Friday, December 3, 2010

Why do I need an ePub agent?

I was talking with my colleague Louise Fury a few nights ago about general work and sundry and when I mentioned the deals I've recently negotiated for my clients she said, "See? This is why people need ePub agents!" Then she asked me to write a quick paragraph on the why of an ePub agent. Doing one better and using it as an excuse for a blog post when I should be sleeping, I decided why not kill two birds with one stone. So here goes:

Not all contracts are the same and all of them are negotiable. How do you know if you've secured all of the rights you're entitled to if you don't know to negotiate for them? Do you even know which rights to request? This is a huge issue with traditional publishers at present as they are all requesting eRights with every contract. If your contract with your digital publisher has those rights tied up for seven years, how will this affect your "print" contract?

Why should I pay someone to do what I can do myself? Love hearing this! I really do because after spending four to six hours every day negotiating contracts, editing manuscripts, drafting pitch letters, going through royalty statements, talking authors down from ledges, brainstorming and career planning with my clients, I think... wouldn't it be easier to just let the author do it all herself so I can get some sleep? Is it worth my time to get a 15% commission? Then I get an email from one of my clients thanking me for helping her find a home for "her baby" or for the $1500 royalty check they've received and I'm suddenly pumped and working hard to help them continue to grow. It's not just about sending your submissions in. I think many people erroneously assume that I send in your work to the same submission queue authors do and have to wait just as long. I've established and cultivated relationships with editors at the various digital presses and by creating these contacts, I have the opportunity to send your manuscript directly to an editor I know is looking for a story just like yours. Does that mean you'll get an acceptance simply because it's coming as an agented submission? No, of course not, but the chances of sitting in a slush pile are greatly reduced.

It's about the BUSINESS of publishing. In her blog post, Rebecca Leigh talks about how she handles the craft of writing and allows me to manage the business of writing. It's a win-win situation for both of us. It's also about having someone in your corner who can traverse the muddy waters of the ever-changing publishing landscape with a clear head and sense of direction. Someone who is vested in your success and therefore will guide you to make educated decisions. But, it's also about having someone who will be a voice for you and your book to the digital publishers who receive thousands of submissions daily. As an ePub agent, I wear an editorial hat, a marketing hat and a publicist hat at various stages of my journey with my clients through the publishing process. Most authors in the digital market will tell you they have to do their own marketing and some will even tell you how much they hate this aspect of their career.

So do you need an agent? I don't know... do you?