This will be my last post on agents for a time, maybe ever. I’m going to sit back and watch this agent stuff work itself out. Don’t worry, I will be doing lots of other posts about indie publishing, about writing, and about my challenge which, with luck, I’ll be finally getting back to here shortly. (This estate stuff is killing me.)
But one last quick fling into logic, then I am done with talking about agents and publishing until a court moves to shut this down or it just keeps going and going.
Traditional Publisher vs Agent Publisher
– Agent publisher puts up all costs for anywhere from 15 to 65%.
– Traditional publisher puts up all costs for anywhere from 70-85%.
Conclusion: Better to go with an agent publisher if (and only if) your expenses earn out and you get any money on the back end, while in traditional publishing you get the money on the front end. If you don’t have enough sales, better to go with traditional. So I’m calling this a draw.
– Agent publisher can get your books in the same place you can as an indie publisher.
– Traditional publisher can get your books everywhere if your book is deemed worth it.
Conclusion: Slight win for traditional publisher, but less as major chains cut shelf space and electronic publishing grows.
3) Difficulty of Submission
– Agent publisher due to the numbers of backlist and front list their clients will have will be selective in which book they will work on. Can be mailed to directly for submission.
– Traditional publisher will be selective depending on what their sales force thinks will sell. Can be mailed to directly for submission.
Conclusion: Draw, unless you already have an agent, then slight win for agents. If you already have a traditional publisher, large win for traditional publisher.
– Agent publisher is doing this on a shoestring budget. Agents are losing their traditional income as traditional publishing changes, thus the reason they are going this way. They will do everything cheaply or outsource to someone who also takes a percentage, changing the percentage the author can get.
– Traditional publisher, even in tight times, has very deep pockets and if your book is chosen as marketable, no shortage of funds to put behind it.
Conclusion: Win traditional publisher by a long, long ways.
5) Possibility of Insolvency
– Agent publisher will be very close to insolvency during this transition, since they are either small corporations or sole proprietorships. They could shut down at any moment or hold your money without warning. Once your income streams are set to go to an agent from Kindle and B&N and so on, it will be very difficult to change those streams and control if an agent suddenly shuts their doors.
– Traditional publisher is also hurting, but backed in most cases by very large multi-national corporations. No doubt some of these companies will fail and your book moved to another imprint or sold as an asset in the bankruptcy.
Conclusion: Both are dangerous at the moment, but slight win to deep pockets of traditional publishers.
Agent publishers will not give an advance. You will just let them publish your book for no advance and hope you get money out the other end after their expenses are recovered.
Traditional publishers give advances of all sizes. These are loans that as long as you turn in an acceptable book, you do not have to repay. And expenses do not have to be taken from the advance. You get to keep the up front money with a small chance of royalties on the back side.
Conclusion: Are you kidding? Totally toward traditional publishers. Why have someone else publish your book and get no advance?
In my opinion, if you are not going to indie publish, keep the costs low, do the work mostly yourself or hire it out up front for a flat fee, you are better off by a long ways staying with traditional publishers.
And just to be clear here:
I still publish with traditional publishers. My wife still publishes with traditional publishers. I don’t see that changing at the moment.
We are doing both indie publishing and traditional publishing, both without agents at the moment.
I have nothing against writers using agents, although I think right now a couple year wait-and-see attitude is a safe one. But if you are going to use an agent, make sure you split payments on traditional deals, and don’t let your agent slow you down or harm you in any way on the agent publishing side. And if you are thinking of hiring an agent, for heaven’s sake, check them out financially.
Now I will head back to my own writing and getting this estate settled. Tonight I should be in Canada, at a wonderful writer’s conference in White Horse in the Yukon, but because of the estate and court issues, I am here. Sorry folks in White Horse. I really, really wanted to see your wonderful area. I’m sure you won’t miss me, though, with Kris there. (grin)