I’m going to make this very quick, because I’m a day or so behind paying my authors – that’s what publishers do, by the way. They don’t charge their authors for “services” – they show faith in the work, and they share in the profit and success…
I now know of at least two, and possibly three “services” signing on with or being created by literary agents and/or agencies. These “services” volunteer to scan, convert, get covers, for, publish, etc. eBooks from author’s old backlist titles. For a price. Usually a BIG price. Let’s be clear, while they probably do what they can for their high-profile clients, they are doing no favors, marketing, or actual selling for most. Just taking money.
I have even been told that some are being pressured. They are being told that they can’t go do their own editions of books that agents haven’t thought about, represented, or cared about for YEARS – because originally that title was repped by the agent.
Let me tell you something – that agent better have a clause in their very old contract that says – eRights. Just like with a publisher, agents sign on to represent certain rights of certain properties. My old agent did some film negotiation, and did print books. Nowhere in our agreement did it say he had rights that didn’t even exist when the book was sold / published / first represented, and – my agent not being a crook – he never tried to claim that it did.
An agent’s job is to sell your books. To represent them to viable markets and find you the best deal. The agent suggesting you PAY to be self-published and then give them a percentage? What’s that about? I can give them references of at least three agents who know they’d have a better deal through Crossroad Press – and we would charge NOTHING for exactly the same services…so what is in it for the agents? You can bet they get a cut for everyone they opt in. Don’t let them strongarm you either. Even if they DO have the representation for your eRights, you don’t have to sign the deal they want you to – if they got your book a deal at Random House, it’s still up to you to say yes – or no. THEY WORK FOR YOU…if it ever feels differently than that, you should find a different agent.
If you pay thousands of dollars to have your old titles made into eBooks, you are being screwed. You are being screwed by frightened people whose existence is threatened by new paradigms in publishing. They can’t save themselves with this, but they can tie up and ruin successes that you might have. I’m not even going to pitch Crossroad Press here, I’m just going to say – don’t let them steal your rights. Publishers have been trying – but the AGENTS? They are supposed to be YOUR representative – it’s your well-being and success they are supposed to care about. If they have so little faith in your work that they feel they need to grab a couple of thousand dollars up front and run – they aren’t representing you at all any more, just themselves.
I’m not going to start naming names – but the agencies and “services” are not obscure – they are involving big agencies and big names, and I will say one thing.
The first two or three top-shelf authors who either break off and fly solo, or go with a newer, more cutting edge publisher like Crossroad Press? The whole thing is going to tumble. These people have had TWENTY YEARS to figure out what to do about the Internet…how long will it take them to figure out that they blew it?
Irritated beyond belief – sad for those already taken in – not happy in NC.