All the wonks are predicting The End Of Publishing As We Know It -- but then there's that 22% increase and the wonks say authors will do all right. My question is whether or not we'll need agents, in the New World. What do you guys think?

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When it comes to novels are there many that are only available for 25-30 dollars? Don't they all come out as ten dollar paperbacks at some point? Now, it's true, that whole model may change, but at the moment the 5-10 e-books are a good competitor for paperbacks but maybe not for hardcovers.
Generally, the pb comes out a year after the hc.
The current standard royalty on ebook sales is now 25%, at five of the six big houses. The agents' association would like to bump that number up to 50% in the near future; so, expect it to settle around 35-40%. At 40% of my current sales, I'd be making some real money. Go, agents!
Good question minervak, need? I dont see any any real need for them. Most authors will publish their own ework. We will still need editors. I hope they will make their services available at a decent price.
Well, sure--I could "publish" my stuff on my blog, for free, right now--or do the smashwords thing and give my work away in the Kindle store. A lot of people will probably do pretty much exactly that, just to see their names up on Amazon (a momentary thrill at best, it turns out). But if you want to actually get paid, you're still going to need an agent--assuming there's any competition left in the publishing world, and not just one or two entities handing out cookie-cutter, "we get all yer shit" contracts, that is.
I think we can count on them at least trying the cookie cutter approach.
The question that keeps me up at night is how the hell am I going to find and pick an agent, knowing NOTHING about publishing? What if I get stuck with some guy who thinks e-books are a fad and only tries to sell my book to Doubleday or somebody? Conversely, what if I get stuck with some guy who thinks Doubleday are dead meat and only tries to sell my book to Kindle? It's scary out there.

I agree with the Jo(h)ns and Dana, that professionals are usually worth what you pay them, but how do I figure out 1) who to hire and 2) what to hire them for?

Maybe I need a mentor.
Generally speaking, unless you're a big gun, your agent picks you. You may have a wishlist (who agents your friends? The writers whose careers you'd like to emulate?), but it's generally the agent who accepts or rejects you, at least initially. The relationship may sour, of course, and if it does you'd be entirely within your rights to terminate the agreement and move on.

If your agent sold your book to Doubleday, first you celebrate! Then you celebrate again, because part of the contract will deal with ebooks, for which you'll get paid roughly twice per copy what you'd be paid per hardcover sale. Nice! No book deal with a major publisher would exclude ebooks these days--wouldn't happen.

Now, if your agent advised you to go straight to Kindle, you might have something to worry about--they'd have to have a very compelling argument about why that was the right move for you at this point in your career. I can't think of such an argument, at least for a debut author. anyway, it probably wouldn't happen--you could sign the standard Kindle deal on your own, without the agent's help--anybody could. Unless the agent was able to negotiate an extraordinarily favorable deal, including promotion, bonuses, etc., they wouldn't really be providing much of a service. Frankly, with iBooks coming on strong, I wouldn't want to sign an exclusive deal with Kindle anyway--no matter what they promised in goodies.

Basically, a competent agent from a reputable house is likely to be fine. But there's a big differnece between a competent agent and a great agent--a competent agent will help you sell a book, a great agent will help you get rich.
No sense putting the cart before the horse, Minerva. First you have to find the agents who want YOU. But say you're in the fortunate position of having a number of people interested in representing you. Then it's simple: You talk to them. You ask them about their likes and dislikes, what they're thinking of in terms of your work, and anything else that's on your mind. (Their websites are a big help, too -- lots of information about who they represent, who they've sold to, often a bit about their philosophies). Most agents expect it -- even welcome it.
Neil said:
You talk to them. You ask them about their likes and dislikes, what they're thinking of in terms of your work, and anything else that's on your mind.

Absolutely. I had an agent a couple of years ago, and I liked her. She helped the book, and I don't doubt she worked hard to sell it to the big New York houses. We had a falling out over what to do next. She didn't think the book I had just finished would sell, and wanted to wait for me to write another. I had less patience and wanted her to look into some smaller deals to build readership. (In baseball terms, I wanted to get men on base and move them along; she wanted to hit home runs.) We would up going our separate ways.

That was my fault; I lacked some patience, and didn't have as good a grasp on the different levels of complexity as I might have. (Or do now, for that matter.) She could have handled it better, but I understand she had client who actually made money for her, and deserved more of her time. The real error here was I never had that philosophical discussion before i signed up: how are we going to market this book? Even if I had disagreed with her, if she had convinced me of her method i would have known better what to expect. As it was, each of us assumed the other was on the same page, and it didn't have to be that way.
Yes. That happened to me, too. I'm staying with my agent, but that means I have a real problem deciding what to do with the book we disagreed on.
Publish it yourself, I J, on Kindle and see what happens. You can always take it down if someone wants it. Amazon will list it in there with your other works and it might take off. Besides I heard they are going to start paying 70%.


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