Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Agent Debate - Continues

Dean Wesley Smith is one of my heroes. He 'tells it like it is' to newbie writers like me. What I find most interesting is that I agree with more than 80% of what he says, just from a couple of years of lurking around the publishing e-world. When his latest post hit my email this morning, it was the first thing I read.

Take a look, the New World of Publishing for today is about the role of agents in the wide-open frontier of e-publishing and Indie Publishing. The first thing is a reference to this page by Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Mary talks about the New Agent's role, I quote:

Whether we're presenting a book to editors or an app proposal to a digital publisher, we will have had a more active hand in its reaching "market ready" status.

The Agent's Role in Today's Digital Book World | Digital Book World

This article gave DeanWS the screaming shudders, because this "role" would also give the agent a larger (50%) share of a work. It would also perpetuate the myth that 'Writers Need to be Taken Care of" because we are unworldly (and stupid) enough to take the bait.

What gave ME the screaming shudders was her reference to Four Fathom Five – John Frey's you-write-it-for-$250-and-I'll-take-the-rest scheme. Now, Mary Kole is in the world of children's books and apps, far from my corner of the market. Still the idea will spread – the author is the goose of content, and everybody wants the golden eggs.

I mean I get it, agents have very, very little to offer a tech-savvy writer. THE Rock Star of Agents got a Real Job. The writing is on the wall, there will be VERY few agents needed in the future. A handful will have best-selling clients, the rest, who knows?

Not all writers are silly geese who don't know which end of a USB cable is up.

DIY is where the Mid-list will live from here forward. Readers (a lot of them women) are STARVING for good Stories. They adopted e-readers like MAD this Christmas. Barnes & Noble website is still staggering under the load. B&N did 1.1 billion dollars in sales in December. Writers are screaming because the sales data isn't updating fast enough to be accurate. My report shows only my first sale, but my book has jumped 300k in sales rank. (Batch file processing in the 21st Century? What Cobol programmer designed their software? GAG me!)

It is a fact the generations coming up ARE computer savvy. Now the Baby Boomers who refused to learn more than word processing and email will be suckers for these "Let Me Help You" schemes. Still, it is something that anyone with a pair of ovaries can learn. (Tee hee, I made a sexist joke!) Sorry guys, any woman who has worked as a secretary in the last 30 years can figure this out.

I spent years working my way into, then out of, the Secretarial Pits only to end up in Call Center Hell. Now those years are going to pay off, because I have formatting and design skills as well as hardware and networking.

So, I've done my bit by passing this on. I have chapters of "Swallow the Moon" to work on. In spite of Real Life throwing curves at me, I'm back to work. It's a new year and I'm determined to make the most of it.

Just be aware that any writer who doesn't pay attention is going the way of the Goose that laid the golden eggs.

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