Romance By Catherine: Agents for today's authors

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Agents for today's authors

With all the changes in publishing, small press, e-press, self publishing and everything Amazon... where are agents going to be in the entire process ten years from now? At this point, I do see where a good agent is going to help an authors carrier, help open doors, help get proposals read by people who can publish them. But the days of only having your work published because you landed an agent first are behind us. I know that certain houses only want agented queries. They don't want a slush pile the size of Mt. Saint Helen's before she blew her top, but will it stay that way?

Seems to me a lot of really good authors are branching out on their own. Self publishing for an author has always been considered a vanity publication. A book not wanted by a reputable publishing house put out by an author. Now authors are looking at the digital market as a way to ensure a steady income for years to come. An agent isn't going to help this process. A good editor now... that is a different monster.

Here is what I predict... not that you really care, but I hope my words make you think a little outside the box. Agents might need to diversify their portfolio in the very near future. They might have to figure out a way to be useful to an author determined to self publish good work. The standard for an agent is that no money exchanges hands from the author to said agent until a manuscript is sold. Anything less and the agent is one you need to stay away from. But a good agent is also a good editor. Many times, they are the first editor. So isn't is plausible for an agent's job for a self published author to be that of an editor and perhaps a coordinator or cover art and formatting? I see a new title for an author assistant. Where the job description is editing, cover art, formatting and uploading to Amazon and websites selling digital books.

Years ago when digital books starting hitting the market many big publishers didn't think it would have the impact on the market that it does today. Now, many of them are starting their own digital imprints, asking for unagented queries... To me, this means that an agent might be left out.

Tell me, dear reader, where do you think agents will be in ten years? How do you think their role will change?

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