Wylie Agency Walking on the Wild Side

This morning, NPR reported that the Wylie Agency, a top literary agency, has teamed with Amazon on a joint venture to electronically publish what’s known as ‘back-list titles,’ best-sellers written long before the age of e-books. The publishing industry wasn’t happy, particularly Random House. In a quintessential display of the kind of pig-headed mentality that has alienated authors (like myself) from traditional publishing, RH essentially blacklisted the Wiley Agency, refusing to enter into any future (English language) agreements with any of its clients. This act on their behalf has left some bloggers, that is Café Lopez, extremely confused as to the message they’re trying to send. Last I checked, self-publishing made up an insignificant fraction of over-all sales. A non-threat, if you will, consisting of self-serving amateurs who know nothing about publishing. What changed?

Well, to be fair, these books are already proven best-sellers, so some of the risk has been weathered. But if you consider the recent news about Amazon selling more e-books than hardcovers, and the fact that the e-book market has grown over five percent in the past year, it’s fairly obvious that something else is at play. E-books aren’t going anywhere. Now that authors no longer have to accept pitiable royalties, we (finally) can earn a respectable income off of the art around which our lives are built.

Last week, I posted a reply from an agent who had declined my book. This morning I got another reply from the same agent, declining the same book a second time (I sent two requests months apart due to his initial failure to respond). The error suggests that he is so swamped in queries, that he (or his secretary) was unable to recognize a duplicate query. So again, should I let my success be determined by overworked agents and an industry increasingly hostile to entrepreneurial authors?

Yes, but only if I want to sell myself short.

  • Spelling correction: Wiley Agency should be Wylie agency.