Why Agents as Publishers is Just Plain Wrong

Trident Media group has decided to become a publisher of its clients' ebooks. (You can read about it here and elsewhere.)

As DWS has made clear, this is a conflict of interest. Period. I can understand authors who have been trad pubbed for a long while being afraid or hesitant to upload their own stuff; they might be Luddites for all I know. (Hmm...Luddite...a gold star word, heh. :-))

But as many self pubbers (myself included) have shown, formatting and uploading ebooks really isn't that hard. Pay attention to the Smashwords formatting guide, and uploading shouldn't be all that stressful. (Although it still makes me shake my head when I see so many people on Kindleboards pulling out their hair with all of their uploading problems; boggles my mind.)

You can even do your own covers if you have a graphics background or have a minimal amount of money. That's what I originally did, and what I still intend to do with any short stories I put up.

Can't do the covers or are afraid to do it? No problem. There are plenty of artists out there willing to do very nice covers for a decent amount of money, and they'll even let you pay in increments. (Imagine that! All you have to do is ask, like I did. :-))

Won't do the formatting and upload thing? There are companies offering flat fee services out there where formatting is one of a few different things they do; you choose and pay once. And again, ASK if you can pay in increments (the installment plan), because a lot of these start ups will try to accommodate you.

No commissions forever and ever. Pay one price, and you're done. You're happy, the company you engaged is happy.

Agents as publishers? First of all, how many agents are tech savvy? What about blurbs, etc? Agents are going to need to go to similar people/organizations for editing, tech stuff, writing blurbs - all the same things that self pubbers are ALREADY doing.

And, the pissy part of this is that the agents are going to get their 15% cut - and more, I have no doubt. After they've nickeled and dimed their clients up the wazoo, how much of the royalties will be left for the author, the creator of the content, hmm? A ton less than if those authors did it themselves. Even if those authors contracted for different services, they wouldn't have to worry about giving away a percentage of their earnings to agent for the life of an ebook. (Ebooks are forever, right?)

I know, I know - I've kind of gone on a long time about this. But when I see a couple of people talking about this sort of thing as being not so bad, I can't help but be angry about it.

Why should authors give up so much of their royalties after they've put in all that work? It makes no sense to me. At all.

Agents have to survive, so I understand they want to try something, anything to stay relevent.

Except they're doing it on the backs of hard-working writers, a lot of whom won't know about BOHICA. After all, it's something they've had to do in order to survive this far in their writing careers.




Mary Ellen Quigley said...

I agree. If it is an ebook, I would rather publish it myself. Why pay someone else to do what I can do for free? It's crazy! I didn't even know some agents were doing this.

Arlee Bird said...

You've convinced me, but that's not too difficult since I know virtually nothing about all of this. I keep seeing more and more authors taking the route you've described so it must not be rocket science. Luddites like me might be challenged at first, but I figure with proper guidance I can do just about anything. We all want to make a buck, including the agents, but it's important that all parties are getting their fair share.

Tossing It Out

Nancy Beck said...

Mary Ellen,

Thanks for commenting.

Yeah, this is a new thing for some agents. Why Konrath insists this might be a good model, I'll never understand.

And you're right - If I can do it all myself, why would I go to an agent/publisher to have them do it?

At least with those flat-fee author service companies that have popped up, you pay a fee or two, and that's it - no need for an agent to take 15% forever.