Monday, June 27, 2011

The Backup Plan

So, today there were some minor ripples in the world of publishing.  My agency, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, has made an announcement that they will be offering a new service to their clients: a sort of e-publishing advocacy. 

Strictly speaking, this is a service for their clients who wish to see a second life for their out-of-print work and hold reverted rights.  This service is also useful for that doomsday scenario where an author’s manuscript falls into submission hell and no house is buying.  Here, e-publishing might be the only option left for such a manuscript, unless the author should prefer to trunk it for several years in hopes that one day new editors are working at the houses.

So why should you care?  Well, the times, they are a-changin’.  E-publishing has gained an extraordinary momentum due to technological advances.  You probably have an e-reader in your pocket.  Most smartphones these days are capable of becoming digital books with the touch of an app.  That is a huge potential market of book buyers.

However, this doesn’t mean publishing houses are going away.  And it doesn’t mean agencies are going to become publishers.  DGLM will remain a literary agency and only advocate and advise for e-publishing, keeping in tact the 15% agency fee and quashing any possibility of a conflict of interest.

But with all change, there is resistance.  Some are uncomfortable with the blurring of duties and borders.  Though, for me, such feelings are behind the times.  Agents are now taking roles that used to be traditionally for editors – you need only look at the track changes John made on my last draft to see just how much editing they do. 

Personally, I like having this option – and that’s all it is.  An author can elect to do this, or not – it’s a choice. 

Any thoughts on this new trend?  Share away!

EDIT: Here's an excellent in depth breakdown of where DGLM fits into the agency becoming publisher trend: David Gaughran's site.


  1. Personally, I think it's a good thing. Yes, the times are certainly changing, and I read someone say the other day, "The great thing about e-pubbing is that anyone can do it. The bad thing about e-pubbing is that anyone can do it." E-pubbing is a better option for your trunked ms than the trunk, and doing it with an agent's advice is always better than going it alone!

  2. I think it's a good idea. I like that they're still only e-pubing their authors...not just random people. Time to catch up with the times, right? Although, I am one of the few who never wants an e-reader and doesn't use the app on my phone. I much, much, MUCH prefer real, live books. But that's me. :)

  3. It's like the Wild West out there!

    I'm a paper guy. The texture, the smell. Digital is great and convenient, but the experience isn't quite the same.

  4. I'd be interested to hear what exactly they mean by "e-pub advocacy." As an agency, can they offer any of the marketing push that a publishing house can?
    It's simple enough to publish your own e-book (assuming you know enough about proofreading). What exactly would the advantage of publishing it through an agency be? How much expertise do they really have in that market?
    Assuming the agency is really going to offer some unique assistance, this could be good. Otherwise... Well, it will be interesting to see where this goes, either way!