Very interesting development.
With big publishing buying only the crème de la crème of books, and more authors turning to self-publishing, many literary agents are getting squeezed right out of the middle.
But some savvy agents are acting as literary consultants to help their authors self-publish, a role that offers up new opportunities and challenges for everybody in the industry.
I talked with three agents about their experiments to serve authors by widening their middle ground.
Ted Weinstein (left), a San Francisco-based agent who represents non-fiction authors, said that self-publishing “has added one more serious option for my clients when we are looking at all their possible opportunities.” He’s currently working with authors he has successfully placed with traditional publishers “to launch additional mid-length material and backlisted books using new self-publishing tools.” These tools include Amazon’s CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt, Smashwords, and more.
What this amounts to is agents turning into a kind of Author Solutions company – offering things that a writer could pull off on his or her own, but a one-stop place for certain services, including consulting. Moral: it’s as hard out there for people in the traditional publishing industry as it is for writers.
This is amusing (emphasis added):
Rennert shopped “Solstice” to traditional publishers, and it even went to acquisitions at one house. She said that when it was finally rejected (because it was too similar to another book being published by a big name house), “we realized this was a concern we were likely going to run into elsewhere, so Hoover made the choice, in consultation with me, to go the independent publishing route and be the first to work with our agency in this capacity.”
This goes out to all those people arguing about independent vs. self-publishing. Give in already, independent publishing has a new meaning (and I’m a person who always uses the term self-publishing). Agents are now using the phrase for the same reason that writers are: to soften the blow and make it seem more legitimate, so it’s a term that’s going to stick.
Meanwhile: AAA will not expel agents turned publishers:
The Association of Authors Agents will not expel those agents who have begun publishing their clients’ work, after a meeting of agents held last night came to what one agent described as a ‘consensus’ that it was not a conflict of interest.
About the Author: Henry Baum
I’m the author of The American Book of the Dead. The novel won Best Fiction at the DIY Book Festival and the Gold IPPY Award for Visionary Fiction. Largehearted Boy says it's "reminiscent of Philip K. Dick and Haruki Murakami, a book that boldly explores the future and defies genre." I'm also the author of North of Sunset, winner of the Hollywood Book Festival Grand Prize, and The Golden Calf - first published by Soft Skull Press, with editions in the U.K. (Rebel Inc.) and France (Hachette Littératures). Visit henrybaum.com for more information. I’m the editor of Self-Publishing Review.