Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Is there a role for the agent in self publishing?
What role does your agent take on if you published your first book (with the agent;s help), but are choosing to self publish your second book?
This is an excellent question, and you have touched on what is probably THE question of our time.
As always, it depends on many factors. It depends primarily on who your agent is, and on the nature of your book. If your agent did well by you the first time around, and if your agent is well versed in the ebook world and will actively help you self publish and guide you through issues like tech issues, jacket art, title, synopsis, pricing, etailers, etc., and if he only wants to charge you the same standard 15% commission, then I would advise you stay with your agent. As a compromise, you might want to limit the term on the agreement to 1 or 2 or 3 years, since ebooks technically never go out of print--at which point you can mutually renew if he is doing well.
If your agent did a lousy job the first time and/or if your agent is out of touch with the ebook world and has nothing to offer you that you cannot do yourself, then there is no reason to use him. There is a broad spectrum of expertise among agents and ebooks: some can bring a tremendous amount to the table, and others will only get in your way. Ask him on what specifically he will give you that you cannot do yourself. Good ebook agents can make a big difference by guiding you through issues like title, length, plot, pricing, jacket art, etc. Bad agents cannot and may take a fee they don't deserve. Some authors will really need a lot more help, and others will not. Each case will be different.
Please feel free to ask Mr. Lukeman your questions about publishing (or about the craft of writing) by posting them in the "comments" section of the blog. He cannot answer every question, but will pick questions to respond to periodically. Please be advised that he is providing this service simply to give back to the writing community and that he is not accepting new clients, so please don't use this blog to query him.
To give back to the writing community, Mr. Lukeman has made several of his books available for free, including How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter and Ask a Literary Agent (Year One). Feel free to visit www.writeagreatquery.com to download the e-books.
Periodically, Mr. Lukeman will send out the Ask a Literary Agent ezine. If you'd like to subscribe, you may do so here:
Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.