09 May 2011

Literary Agency Trying Out Life as a Publisher

Today’s Spectacle features an interview with erstwhile blog member P. J. Hoover about the digital publication of her fantasy novel Solstice.

What struck me about this publication is the organization with Hoover worked with: her literary representative, the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
My agent [Laura Rennert] and I had subbed a very different version earlier (about a year ago) with minimal dystopian elements. We got close to selling but never found the right fit. . . .

I had a phone call scheduled with her to talk about what our submission strategy would be. We talked about that a bit and then she said, “Well, there is another option.” And she suggested the self-publishing route. . . .

We did another round of edits. And then a copy edit, and two proofreading edits. . . . They chose the cover picture and found a cover designer. (The POD book should come out a while after the e-book.) So, the agency arranged for cover design and layout and editing, and they are getting their regular 15% of royalties.
That’s a lot less of the revenue than a print publisher hopes to retain, and less than most electronic publishers. But the interview doesn’t say who paid (or fronted) the costs of the editing, cover image, overhead, etc. Also unstated is who will handle or pay for marketing the book. Presumably the agency can keep trying to sell ancillary rights. So there are still a lot of questions about the economic viability of this approach. Nevertheless, it may signal the start of a new publishing model.

[ADDENDUM: The second part of the interview talks about marketing. Not that there’s much to talk about.]

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