Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Is For Sleeping

Last week I read a really great blog post about the ethics of literary agents becoming gateways for self-publishing.  Courtney Milan wrote a really wonderful bit about it that I linked to from Friday's post.  If you haven't read it, you should.  Then on Sunday, I read about an agency that was going to do something similar.  And earlier in the week I'd heard from another agency that is doing that.  I questioned how an agency could justify 15% of the monies over the lifetime of the book (which is forever for an e-book) for helping a client publish an e-book.

I have a lot to talk about when it comes to publishing and agents and all that crap.  I started writing this post and then realized two things:

1.  I haven't had enough coffee to write intelligently.
2.  This is going to take more than one post.

I'll keep it short this morning.  Mondays suck too hard to deal with a long rambling post.

So, yes, in June my agent and I parted ways.  It was amicable.  He's a stand-up guy, an outstanding agent, and that's all I'm going to say about that.  If you were hoping for drama, you won't find it here.

The interesting part is what happened next.  I have a book I've been working on for over a year.  It's just about ready to go out.  A friend is giving it a really detailed read-through.  I'd prepared query letters to agents that I thought would be a good fit. 

Then I wondered why.

I questioned the role of a literary agent, the role of a publisher, and wondered whether self-publishing was maybe the way for me to go.

Whether we want to admit it or not, publishing is changing.  I'm not going to hide in a corner or cry to the heavens that publishing is dying.  It's not. People freaked out when YouTube came on the scene.  People were worried that if easy to upload, free videos were all the rage, that no one would want to watch TV.  TV was going to die.  Oh noes!

That didn't happen.  What did happen was that TV continued to thrive, YouTube remained a niche, and the two met somewhere in the middle.  Sites like HULU and Netflix began streaming quality shows on-line.  Those who wanted to remain tied to their TVs could, and those who wanted to watch on the internet did.  Experiments came and went, web shows haven't really taken off but experiments like Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog proved that they could be great AND profitable. 

I think the same will happen to books.  The medium of a paper book is too deeply ingrained in our collective subconscious for them to simply go away.  People who want books will get them, people who want e-books can have them, and people who want free, user created content (book versions of YouTube videos) can have those as well. 

But like it or not, it's all changing. 

Wednesday, I'll share some thoughts about where I see the role of the agent going and how I see the role of the agent in my own personal journey.

Happy Monday.  First person to bring me more coffee wins a pat on the head.

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