The Changing Role of Agents

My last post brings up a host of questions about agents. In these ever-changing times in publishing, the expanding self-publishing market is raising all sorts of possibilities about how all parts of the system do business. We’re seeing agents  move toward the publishing end of things by getting author backlist titles back on the market. We see authors going it on their own, whether forgoing agents and publishers from the get go or dropping out from the legacy publishers and going it on their own or some kind of mix between the two. Publishers are buying up self-pubbed authors who do well. In a sense, self-pubbed authors are acting as their own agents, using the marketing/selling of their titles to garner interest from editors at the publishing houses. The ball game as it were, is wide open.

So, how does an agent play into this middle ground they are finding themselves immersed in? I don’t have answers here, but it raises a lot of interesting questions/possibilities. When one approaches an agent and you have interest in self-pubbing as well as going with legacy publishers (and there’s something to be said for being able to accomplish both), what sort of questions would you want to ask that agent? You’d certainly want to know how they feel about self-publishing in general and how they feel about working with an author who is also putting work out there on their own. Would they be willing to work with you on both types of projects? Are you, as an author willing to make arrangements with an agent regarding assistance with self-publishing, i.e. editing, marketing, and so on? This is all unsteady ground we’re walking on right now, but it would make sense of course to compensate agents for their assistance. Do you pay them by the hour? Do you cut them in for the same 15% as the traditional books? It’s an interesting discussion and certainly a situation that remains in flux right now in publishing.

Curious here what everyone’s thoughts are on this ever-changing environment. If you were an author pursuing an agent and were looking at self-publishing as well, what sort of give and take would you expect/want? How do you think agents should be compensated? Happy reading/writing everyone!

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