Thursday, April 28, 2011

ASK BACK: an e-book original deal?

ASK BACK: If your agent advised you, before shopping your unpublished manuscript, that in your particular case you would earn much more by self-publishing as an e-book, would you be happy to follow his advice and skip a publisher submission? If so, would you continue to want the agent to represent you, and under what terms?

31 comments:

  1. I would and I have. e-published, that is, 2 and more on the way. I still want an agent,still do not have one at age 61. I have many novels written over 30 plus years of pitching agents and editors, the Catch-22 existence of the writer, pre-ebooks. Many more novels, waiting for my ebook campaign to pub them, more, still, unfinished, waiting their turn. Ater a long life in business, I want to just write, no longer schmooze for sales all day, and write all night instead of sleep or eat. I am ready for the ebook marketing grind, to build a following, and for that to entice Mr. Lukeman to see me as viable, a profit center. I really see ebooks as my own profit center, if I never get that perfect agent, who just loves me. But it would be lots more fun, more efficient, more lucrative for all, to write all day and leave the driving to someone else.

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  2. Absolutely! E-books are so liberating. Now shy-by-nature authors can opt out of the agonizing publishing process. Historically, writers were the quiet, invisible artists. Painters had walls and musicians had sreet corners, but fniished novels ended up in a drawer. Ebooks won't guarantee an audience, but its the first time writers have ever had any sort of public access. Even the learning curve of self-publishing empowers; the writer edits with keener eye and builds confidence. And the best part of the intensive exercise involved in a self-published ebook is the pride of a finished product. Doesn't matter if the book is sellable, its available. For a writer, the possibility that one person may read and enjoy a book is enough reason to start writing another.
    Madeleine

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  3. No, only because I could've gone the self publishing route myself. I wouldn't want him as an agent because I would have concerns on how much he "loves" my book if he's already setting limitations.

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  4. I'd be willing to discuss it, but if they wanted 15% they'd better be offering me something pretty solid!

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  5. I think having an agent is always better, whether you're self-publishing or not. Having the help of an insider to guide you with marketing and branding strategies would earn his 15%, I'm sure.

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  6. Considering the long time lag between the query, the submission and hearing back from the agent, is it a good idea to query before the manuscript is finished?

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  7. Anonymous @ 6:22: No. It's not a good idea. Let's say your query letter is fantastic and you get a full request. What do you do if it's not done? The agent needs to see your best work, not a draft.

    It's also unwise because the nature of your work will change a bit over the editing process. If you're smart, your query will need to change, too.

    Many agents cite querying before the manuscript is ready as their number one reason for rejection.

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  8. I think this falls into the catergory of it all depends on the situation, the relationship you have with the agent in question, and how fast and how many books you can write in order to generate income.

    Frankly, I've had to manage my own career for almost 20 years, and shop my own books and short stories to publishers. (I never self-pubbed because I don't want to deal with things publishers deal with.) And I've been forced to learn things I never would have wanted to learn if I'd had an agent (Like how to get around being screwed out of digital sales for back listed books I'm in). So I do think, even with regard to self-publishing, it never hurts to have an agent.

    In this case, if I were self-publishing (which I've never done but have been thinking about very seriously) and the agent still wanted to stick with me, I would be fine with standard terms and giving 15%.

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  9. I do have an agent, and I also self-publish ebooks. I'd especially like an agent to sell print rights and foreign translation rights for me, because those are a pain for a self-pubbed writer to handle.

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  10. I'd rather focus on writing and marketing and leave the rest to someone else. If this was the only way forever and ever to get published, I'd sleep on it.

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  11. Quickly: For fiction queries, E-mail or SnailMail?

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  12. Hi Noah or anyone else who can help,

    I'd be most grateful if you could answer these two quickies.

    1. Can you recommend a word count for a debut adult horror novel?

    2. Is it practical/publishable to have a first-person narrator address the reader as 'you'? The story will be told by the protagonist recounting it to the reader.

    Please email jonathanjamesholmes@hotmail.com

    Many thanks,

    Jonathan.

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  13. Nice article, thanks for the information.

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  14. Hi Noah, I have a question. I want to part ways with my agent. He and I had a nice working relationship initially but when my first book didn't sell, he started taking longer and longer to do anything. Now my 2nd book has been on submission for 8 months and we've gotten two responses, and he's had my 3rd book, sitting unread in his inbox for four months. There's a chance that I'll have to wait until the renewal date to end this relationship unless we both agree otherwise to end it sooner like I'd like to do.

    My question: In the event that I have to wait until the renewal date and I don't have a book on submission, is it okay to query new agents with my 3rd book, which has never been shopped, during the two months I'm waiting for the contract to expire if I've already put in writing that I do not want to renew my contract?

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  15. I'm glad I chose to self publish my first book, but the marketing side of it is difficult. I would think a good agent could help with that.

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  16. Hello Noah,

    You had commented once in an interview that writers should take an acting class. Can you suggest one or two in New York who would take a writer (i.e., someone with little to no acting experience) and who has, in your opinion, real insight and the ability to impart it to others? Thanks.

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  17. I think it would still be wise to have an agent, if the agent is a hands on kind of person. The agent critiques and advice I have received has improved my work.

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  18. I have a question about response time and the publishing shutting down for the summer. I submitted my manuscript to 12 agents in July. It is now September and I've only heard from less than half. Is this normal even after following up?

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  19. I've got a couple questions I'm hoping you can help me with. I'm part of a writing group and we are putting together a contract internally for a book we plan to self publish.

    We're unsure how to write a clause on rights in our contract. The book will contain first time published stories plus previously published stores. Because of this, I think this clause should read:

    2) Rights: I understand that I will retain all copyrights associated with my submissions only and grant THE GROUP one-time rights and electronic rights to publish my work in NAME OF BOOK. I also grant THE GROUP excerpt rights for promotional purposes.


    Another writer thinks it should read:

    2) Rights: I understand that regarding my submissions only: I will retain all copyrights and grant THE GROUP one-time non-exclusive English-language print publishing rights and English-language electronic rights to publish my work in NAME OF BOOK. I also grant THE GROUP excerpt rights for promotional purposes. Any rights not specified in this agreement, including foreign translation rights, other media (film/TV, audio, serialization, game adaptation), will be retained by me.


    I think this is a bit redundant in the wording based on the yellow highlights. I also think that when you give non-exclusive rights to a publisher they get the right to republish your piece in any additional ways they deem fit. Perhaps I'm wrong and it means they can publish at the same time someone else publishes what YOU have resold. Does this mean that publisher may or may not republish your story in a different venue (say another book they are producing)?

    Can you provide any clarity on these questions? Or direct me to someone who could? We don't have a lot of money so we probably won't go to a lawyer for this one sentence.

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  20. I would think that if I went through the process of getting an agent that I would be prepared to take whatever advice that agent gave me short of jumping off a cliff. :)

    I have to wonder if we will soon see a lot of new writers being picked up by publishers as EBook releass only. It seems to me like that would be a great way for publishers to "float a trial balloon" to see if a book will sell before investing in a print release.

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  21. Interesting discussion going on here. I have to say finding and editor/publisher is very difficult if you are a new poet in the market. While many of us have been writing for years as a closet writer it is difficult to open the door and get your work published. I have collaborated with another writer and we are currently exploring e-books as it seems to be a great alternative to the standard route. I think we would all like an editor/publisher as it helps one feel their writing is validated but, in today economy many are not willing to take a risk on a new writer. If there is an agent out there I'm willing to talk. Take care everyone and best wishes to all of you on your journey.

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  22. From the outlook of someone with little real world experience, I think the marketing and promotion of the end product would remain as my biggest concern, agent or not.

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  23. ...I have a feeling it may be harder than I expected it to be (not that I thought it would be easy in the first place).

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  24. Hi Noah and others. I have a finished manuscript(no publishing deal) that has a very unique and interesting angle. I'm wondering if it's ok to send out press releases to newspapers and blogs in order to get some exposure/interviews for myself and the book idea prior to getting publication deal. And if so, do you think this will help or hurt my chances at a publication deal. Thanks. I REALLy need some ideas on this!!!

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  25. An unrelated question. Over many years I have compiled and keep current a significant collection of local history facts, figures, locations, and photographs I self-publish. Publishers are now approaching me, so I must be doing something right. It seems that I should engage a Literary Agent to help me choose the right publisher, but I would not know how to begin finding one.

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  26. Whoa. I was hoping to stumble upon a blog like this. I'm aspiring teenage author of science fiction and fantasy and hope to get my first novel published within the next ten years or so. This should be a huge help. Thanks so much!

    Looking forward to future stuff!

    -Matt

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  27. I'm getting ready to query for the first time. Of course, the dream is to go traditional, get an agent, have the WIP at Costco next to James Patterson's and Micheal Chricton's stuff. That's going to be a hard dream to let go of. If an agent agrees to represent me, then I'll expect him/her to try that route. Telling me to go self-pub before even trying to shop it around would be unacceptable and I'd look for someone else. If it's a case that, after shopping it around, the agent tells me to go self-pub, then I'd do it, but it would have to be a long enough time for me to feel as though the attempt was ernest. If I already had some books with an agent that went trad, and he told me to go self-pub on something, I'd probably take the advice without a hitch.

    I'm curious, is this question directed at people

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  28. I have a question related to the e-book question, only for small press.

    After thirty rejections from traditional publishers and agents, I was accepted and signed a contract with a small press publisher. While they've published books and magazines before, I'm the first author they're publishing under their new fantasy imprint.

    Now I'm petrified. Everything I read online says that small press is on it's way out, and it's better to do it yourself (though I really wanted to see my book in print too). At a writers' conference I heard successful writers (and even publishers) claim that there is a mystique in the "debut" author, and if someone goes with a small press, they nix their chances of being picked up by the big guys, or even making a living. Others have told me that if my book does well and I build my readership, the chances of getting an agent and moving on to bigger and better things increases. It's a "foot in the door."

    What do you think, Noah and friends?

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  29. There is really no clear set way for marketing ebooks. There are many different combinations of tools to effectively promote and sell your ebook. We will be talking about three unique ways to promote said ebook.

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  30. I have a question regarded to publishing.

    i wanted to send a manuscript to a publisher who allows sending manuscripts either as a hard copy by post or by email.

    I wanted your opinion on which way is better.

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