6 Reasons You Need A Literary Agent Now More Than Ever

contract signingYes, even you self pubbed authors need an agent now more than ever.

There’s no disputing that you can publish your own book, get a deal by yourself meeting an editor at a conference or submitting to certain publishers that are open to the slush. I see more and more in our query inbox that an author has an offer from a small print publisher or digital first start up but want an agent to help with the process because they realize they are in over their head. They ask questions like: Is the publisher good? Should I have submitted to them on my own in the first place? I’ve written on why you shouldn’t submit to agents and small presses at the same time already, but this is about why you need an agent first.

6 Reasons You Need An Agent Now More Than Ever:

1. Access to ‘Big 5’

Yes, you can submit to small publishers by yourself, but you will never have access to all the big 5 publishers without an agent. Every writer I’ve ever met has wanted to be published in print. There are writers that are ‘okay’ with digital first publishing, but they all want to build to a career in print.

2. Complex Contracts Continue reading 6 Reasons You Need A Literary Agent Now More Than Ever

A New Digital Dialogue for Agent Representation

When having conversations with prospective clients the conversation has changed. It now revolves around asking plans for digital, ebooks, whether the author wants the agent involved editorially or contractually. These questions weren’t an issue 1 to 5 years ago, but are at the forefront of conversations agents are having with writers in 2012.

Questions emerge like:

  • How long are you committed to a traditional publishing deal until you may want to self publish?
  • If you do want to self publish projects do you want/expect an agent to help edit structurally, substantively, and copy edit?
  • What communication style do you prefer? Email, phone, Twitter, text, Facebook?
  • What are your feelings about agents venturing into self-publishing their own authors?
  • Are you comfortable with submitting your projects to digital-only imprints?

Continue reading A New Digital Dialogue for Agent Representation

10 Reasons Agents Are Not Gatekeepers

I read Publishing Perspectives‘s recent article “What is the ‘New’ Publisher?” which got me thinking about the ways that agents breakdown the gatekeeper stereotype and how the role of the ‘gatekeeper’ is changing in the face of digital publishing. (If you haven’t read the article I highly recommend it. It follows the recent Futurebook conference in London.)

If you think agents are gatekeepers you are holding yourself back from a world of possibilities and not bucking the traditional model, but making yourself jaded and adverse to the opportunities that are unfolding every day.

Agents are not gatekeepers.
  1. Agents’ skill set is not to close doors (which many querying authors think we do), but to open them. When we find a talent we are passionate advocates of we will knock on every door, throw rocks at every window, sift through every contact page, and not rest until our clients are happy with the work we’ve done for them. We don’t land every book, but we build our reputation on the ones we do so we keep working hard.
  2. Agents project manage. We are not keeping good writing from reaching the marketplace. We are project managing on the editorial, marketing, sales and publicity side of books to make our authors successful.
  3. Agents are contract experts. If you are published traditionally, indie, or self-publishing successfully you want an agent looking at contracts for clauses that can trip you up. Agents help you to know what you are signing.
  4. Agents negotiate. Again, no matter what avenue you are taking to make your work public agents are needed to negotiate terms. Territories, length of term, royalties, subsidiary rights, warranties and indemnities–these all need to be combed carefully.
  5. Agents can be publishers. While agents are steering away from calling themselves publishers they are facilitating ebook arrangements with companies like Smashwords to get their client’s work to market in ebook form. Agents are one of the most flexible people on your team: we can reach out to companies that do short ebook work like Byliner and Amazon singles; we can set you up with ebook only publishers like Carina Press and Entangled; we can find you a freelance publicist; and the list goes on.
  6. Agents can be third party facilitators. Agents can work with companies like Open Road to develop brand properties. We work with film agents and talent agents. Continue reading 10 Reasons Agents Are Not Gatekeepers

IFOA International Visitors Meetings: What’s going on in foreign markets?

At the International Festival of Authors (IFOA) International Visitors (IV) programme in Toronto Monday I had meetings with 13 industry professionals (editors, agents, and scouts) from around the world. Following the meetings was a publishing panel discussing co-publishing and featured a keynote from Stephen Rubin from Holt. The International Festival of Authors brings together the best writers of contemporary world literature for 12 days of readings, interviews, lectures, round table discussions, and public book signings each October.

What’s going on in foreign markets?

Brazil: Books are now being sold in supermarkets which is a great for commercial publishing. Only big titles are being picked up by supermarkets, like here. Door-to-door catalogue book sales are big in Brazil because not everyone has a computer. A Brazil company has its own line of ereading devices, they do not use Kindle or Kobo at this time. Publishers are looking for YA and next year the Brazilian government is going to buy tablets for every student, so expect the ebook market to take off very soon!

China: They still have government restrictions on what they can publish. I heard conflicting reports about piracy in China. One report said it was a big issue and the other said it was becoming less of a problem. While it is in publishers best interest to report little piracy, it is still ongoing.

French Canada: They are looking for shorter works of fiction and nonfiction, not lengthy tomes.

U.K.: U.K. publishers have had great success with movie tie-ins like ‘One Day’ and ‘The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas’. The books that work in the U.K. that are big are often pop-culture or humour related and aren’t transferable to North American readership. U.K. publishers don’t ‘Anglicize’ American fiction and vice versa.

U.S.: Hardback sales are down 17%, trade paperback sales are down 17%, mass market paperback sales are down 15%, but ebook sales are up 153%. However, print still dominates 75% of the market. U.S. publishers are looking for authors that can repeat their success with multiple books on their list. They are looking to publish less authors and keep their lists lean, but to put more behind them. U.S. editors are still looking to foreign markets to publish in translation. They are still taking chances on debuts. Continue reading IFOA International Visitors Meetings: What’s going on in foreign markets?