Writer Beware™ Blogs!: Agencies Becoming Publishers–a Trend and a Problem

Writer Beware™ Blogs!: Agencies Becoming Publishers–a Trend and a Problem.

Agencies becoming publishers. And not lower-crust, fly-by-night agencies, either. Major, respected agencies.

As if it’s a good idea. As if it’s ethical. As if it’s legal.

Well, I suppose it’s legal. It’s too new to be illegal. But I’ll tell you, this sets off alarms for me. As a new writer who  has received well over a hundred rejections for two novels and several short stories, I have to say this worries the heck out of me.  I’ve submitted to some of the agencies who are now doing this. What if, along with my rejection letter, I got an offer to self-publish with them? My book’s not good enough for that agency to represent it and send it out to the big publishers. But they’ll let me pay them to publish it as an e-book or POD. The contract is conveniently attached.

It’s stupefying. I simply cannot wrap my brain around it.

But you know what this tells me? It tells me not to worry about those folks who shake their fingers and solemnly remind us that 99% of self-published authors never sell a single book. That people who can’t get an agent or contract with the big six are deluding themselves if the try to self-publish.

Pfft. If they didn’t think there was money in it, they’d never change their business model to include it.

But there’s one thing to remember: Self-pubbing with Smashwords, Lulu, Createspace, etc., is not free. The author is in business – and must cover the expenses of the product he/she sells. So the author pays the “distributor” (as they are called) for every book ordered.  What’s left over goes to the author as revenue (royalties).

What I’m interested in finding out, is how does publishing through an agency stack up against this? Is it a better deal? Or is the author still expected to pay all those costs, PLUS pay the agency 15% of the revenues?

Is the agency just another hand in my pocket?