I am, of course, an author whose “time has not yet come”, as it were. (It remains to be seen if my time ever actually will, but I maintain hope.) I’m not really in the industry – not yet. (I’ve only had one professional sale.) So in the long arc of publishing history, anything I say on the subject of the future of publishing, such as it stands now, is subject to all kinds of “I don’t really know what I’m talking about” caveats. And as I look forward to the hopeful prospect of having a career as a writer, I worry about how what I say publicly may or may not qualify me or disqualify me for the having of that career – or in other words, I fear whether something I say now might potentially be damaging to future possible relationships with publishers, editors, or agents. I don’t want to be a problem child or a prima donna, or appear as someone difficult to work with. My goal is to be personable and pleasant to work with.
That said, I follow the news on the publishing industry with avid interest. And I do have opinions about what’s happening, and the changes in the industry. For instance, I feel that a lot of people are spouting off their opinions on what’s the “Gospel Truth” about the future of the industry when they, quite frankly, don’t really know a darned thing about what’s actually happening. Everything is changing so fast that anybody who claims to know exactly what the future of book publishing looks like is probably selling something, and I’m very wary of these kinds of absolute pronouncements. I take them as advice: here’s one version of how things might go down. But as for me… I’m content to wait to see how things actually happen. Besides, I have to focus right now on writing. I can’t very well play any role in the industry until I have something written that’s worth reading.
All that said… I read an interesting post by Jim C. Hines today about one, shall we say, interesting development in the world of publishing. This isn’t exactly coming out of nowhere – this change has been moving slowly for at least the last year (since I started paying attention to this stuff), and probably longer.
This change, specifically, concerns the roles that Author Agents will play in the Brave New World of Publishing, which Jim comments on here.
Reading that post lead me down a rabbit-hole of learning more about how Agents are changing their business models to survive the changes in the industry – and specifically to a very interesting Dust-up/kerfuffle. Here are the relevant links:
- Author Sarah Hoyt chooses to go unagented
- Hoyt’s Agent responds
- Hoyt clarifies her position and the reasoning behind her initial post
- The Passive Voice comments on the disagreement between Hoyt and her agent
- The Passive Voice comments on a similar situation with another, unrelated agent’s similarly-changing business model (an article which I actually read before the dustup in the above-linked posts)
- The aforementioned Author’s Agency responds to Hoyt’s initial post
- Another author of aforementioned Agency who is happy with said Agency’s new direction responds
I reserve comment on just what I really think of the whole situation. At this juncture, it would be imprudent. I will say: I don’t know any of these individuals personally. I don’t have a horse in this race. How can I? I am genuinely interested in learning how this settles out. And I will be following this going forward. But I have my thoughts and reservation (which I’m happy to share privately, for any interested, but I doubt there will be any bites on that one). I just think, for those of you who hadn’t seen this particular dust-up, yet, that this might be worth a read.
Additionally: be sure to check out the comments in those posts. Some of them are at least as enlightening as the posts themselves.
Addenda: Here are some more links provided by others that I thought worthy to share (More Information = More Power):
- Romance Author Courtney Milan in an open letter to Agents who are starting publishing arms
- Courtney Milan clarifies her intent
- Courtney Milan goes in further detail on Agents doing Digital/E publishing
If you’ve got some links to some places where agents and authors are talking about this issue, feel free to share them. I’ll continue appending to this article as I have the chance to read more on the topic.
Final Note: Despite the title to this post, I really do think this is a pretty big – and important – issue. The reason for the title has more to do with my incurable affection for alliteration that for how important I think this is.