As I sit here drinking coffee, catching up with my new twitter followers, and reading emails, my morning newsletter from Digital Book World came in. There's the usual chatter on the publishing industry about ebook and ereader sales activity during the holidays, gains and losses and all that crap. What caught my eye was an article about publishing agents,
I thought that looked pretty interesting, so I read the article. I haven't read anything in the past few months that made me so instantly furious, soooo fuming pissed off MAD. I had to sit down and write this blog post.
The article is an interview with Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Jane starts off with her credentials. She represented Obama when he wrote "Dreams from my father", before he was President. That's some serious Klout goin' on there. I'll bet she's got one hell of a Klout score. Despite all that overwhelming Klout, the sheer audacity of her business model is staggering.
She isn't even a publisher, but she helps self-published authors, charging a mere %15 of their sales. She will help them find editors-on their dime, find cover artists-on their dime, and help them upload their ebooks to all the retailers (a very harrowing experience of about 20 mouse clicks). What a wonderful service, for only %15 royalty on someone else's hard work.
She goes on to admit she wishes traditionally published authors received more than 25% royalty of net sales, she thinks 50% of net sales is much more fair. Us authors should get at least 50% of net sales royalties. How kind and considerate, how very progressive.
I get 70% of GROSS sales on Amazon and between 60-80% of GROSS sales at other retailers.
Jane Dystel admits that the challenge Agents face is to convince self-published authors, "that we can help them do better than they are doing for themselves ... many of these self-published authors are doing phenomenally well."
You're damn straight that's a challenge.
The gist of the entire article is this: Our Agency skims through the self-published authors to see who's a bestseller and then attempts to convince them that somehow or other, they need us.
If I hit anywhere near a bestseller status with my ebook, that's saying a lot:
1. I already know how to write a good book.
2. I already have at least one editor or more.
3. I already know how to hire a cover artist, and help work out the design specifics of the cover I want.
4. I already know how to hire an ebook conversion formatter, or do the formatting myself.
5. I already know how to upload my finished ebook to all the retailers.
6. I already know how to launch my novel through social media and blogs.
7. I already know how to make the most of ebook retailer's promotional mechanisms, like free offerings, discounts, giveaways, and coupons.
8. I already know how to sell myself as an author brand, and my novels as a part of that brand.
If I hit anywhere near a bestseller listing with any of my ebooks, why the hell would I need an Agent?
Jane Dystel looks a lot like a predator to me. A predator preying on the dreams and aspirations of self-published authors who still feel the sting of not having "made it" in the realm of traditional publishing. She looks like an Agent who's scrambling to figure out how to convince people like me that there's any need at all for her antiquated, obsolete business model.
If I hit anywhere near a bestseller list with my ebook, you better have a seven figure offer on the table and a movie deal before you even think about trying to talk me out of my successful self-publishing business model.
I have never written a query letter. I never will. Its a waste of time. Jane Dystel says she has represented JA Konrath and John Locke early in their self-published careers. Here's JA Konrath's words from a year ago:
"Now, writers are much better served learning how to upload their work to Kindle and write a product description than learning how to write a query letter or do a successful book signing."
As I catch up on a ton of social media connections for the morning, start writing another interview series for erotica authors, and begin editing my next two novels for release in the next two months, I wonder how much Agents can afford to adapt? How much room is there in today's world of self-publishing for an Agent to survive? NOT MUCH.
This is a time of great change in the world of publishing. The power is shifting to the authors, specifically the authors who learn the ins and outs of self-publishing. I strongly suggest people abandon obsolete business models and embrace that power, take it in full measure and use it to the best of your ability.
Until next time,