Tempest in a Teacup: Author Agents & Self-epublishing

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:

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):

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.

17 thoughts on “Tempest in a Teacup: Author Agents & Self-epublishing

  1. Courtney Milan’s also got two more interesting posts. See the posts on Conflict of Interest, and the Open Letter to agents. I’ve also been following and it seems like things are changing week by week. I also expect more agencies to make announcements like this, but, like you, I’m reserving judgement for now. It is quite interesting to follow… though it all does make my head spin at times…

    • I’ll definitely have to read Milan’s posts on the issue, thanks! This issue being as complex and difficult as it is… I think getting more thoughts on it can only be beneficial. What’s particularly difficult, at this stage, is what all these changes mean for us… the unpublished authors. One thing is certain: everything we’ve been told about how you build a career as a writer in this day and age – almost none of it will be true or viable in a very short amount of time, now.

  2. I see you have a link to Dean Wesley Smith’s site over there on the side. Have you been following his posts about the publishing industry? Because he is, in my opinion, the most well informed and level headed person involved in the discussion right now. He and his wife (http://kriswrites.com/) have been blogging for a long while now about the changes and how they are affecting writers of all kinds. It’s really invaluable reading.

    • I occasionally read Dean and his wife when one of the blogs I more regularly follow points to something interesting by one of them… but I don’t follow them regularly. I find him a little bombastic for my tastes… and more especially I don’t like the way they speak in very absolute terms about the publishing industry. Quite frankly the industry is changing so rapidly, there’s no way anyone can know with any certainty what things are going to look like. So I respect their opinions, based on their experience, but I just can’t bring myself to hang on their every word. (Plus… this maybe is stupid, but I’m really aesthetically turned off by the ugly parade of poorly-done ebook covers on Dean’s site… they set off alarm bells in my brain that suggest that the writing is amateurish, even if I know in fact he’s got a lot of experience.) Now, I will say I don’t find Dean as bad as Konrath, who strikes me as something of a snake-oil salesman…

      • That’s interesting you should get that impression from them. I see them always acknowledging the changes in the industry and that no one knows how things are going to shake out in the next few years. As long as I’ve been reading them they have always said that every writer is different and that there is no one right way to do things. That’s one of the reasons I respect them so much. They always make it clear that any statement they make using wording that seems absolute is still just an opinion. At the same time, they do make it a goal to help educate new writers. I’ve never felt Dean was bombastic.

        I agree about Konrath though. If there’s anyone who comes across as “my way or the highway” it’s him. And he just doesn’t have enough experience in the industry, no matter what he claims, for me to trust anything he says.

      • I don’t know… Maybe it’s the excessive use of bold type face… Using bold is a lot like using all caps, typographically speaking; it calls attention to itself and makes it seem like the sentiment expressed in bold is meant to be heavy and important and weighty and you-better-listen-up-because-I-know-what-I’m-talking-about-here. But you’re right… he does include the kind of caveats you mentions about opinion and things changing too fast and whatnot. But they read like “small print” when the next thing he says is a bold statement in bold font. Hmm. Maybe a lot of my reaction to Dean Smith is about aesthetics, really.

  3. I second the recommendation that all writers aspiring to be published would do well to heed the advice of Dean Wesley Smith. As prolific writer, editor, and two time publisher, he knows what he speaks.

  4. Stephen, I don’t like Dean’s covers either (and I haven’t read any of his fiction yet), but he’s the one who gave me confidence to go indie again (I did do it in the 90s, before the internet, so it’s not totally new to me).
    The upcoming workshops are also about preparing covers… just wondering, what do you think of mine? Do they look amateurish? And do you prefer the ones I draw myself or the ones I commissioned to my artist friend Cristina? Please let me know your honest opinion, thank you! 🙂

    • Well, I’ll tell you this: your Book of the Immortals covers are quite a sight better than Dean’s. They’re very different than what I am normally used to on covers, but overall they’re quite attractive.

      However, I might have a small critique: the title and author’s name are sometimes difficult to read because they fall against a very busy backdrop and they’re a little small. I’m not sure how it would look in reality, but I’d maybe tinker with making the font bigger and adding a clean “outer glow” or shadow to make the title and author’s name stand out.

      I can’t comment on the difference between your own covers versus those of your artist… I don’t recall what your own self-done covers looked like.

      • The BoI covers (Air, Fire and Water) are done by Cristina, the rest by me.
        Thanks for the tips, we’ll work on making the writing more evident! 🙂

      • Ah, I see. Well your own covers are similar enough in form and appearance that I don’t have a sharp distinction in my mind between them. I’d have to look closer to make any more specific comments.

  5. Pingback: A Tough Row to Hoe… « The Undiscovered Author

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s