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Old Yesterday, 12:04 AM   #151
darryl
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The authors don't actually pay for the slush piles. Agents get paid a percentage of any contract, so you only pay if you get a contract. That's pretty much the standard way that agents work, in sports, real estate, contract firms or literary.
As I said, very good business. Instead of the publisher paying the cost is shifted to all authors who get a contract. A very smart move.

Personally based on my reading I think literary agents with rare exceptions add little or no value other than providing the foot in the door to those who want a traditional publisher. Where we seem to differ mainly on this is that you seem to think they offer value for money apart from this function. I think such services if any are best sourced elsewhere and paid for in cash rather than a percentage. I expect that as time passes the new entry to traditional publishing will mostly be by way of self-publishing. We will of course see how well literary agents survive as time passes. My money is on not very well.

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If you are a good author, who doesn't mind handling all the business details and knows how to market yourself and build a readership, then sure indie works. I'm not so sure there are a ton of writers in that boat. It's pretty hard to get noticed just throwing your book out on Amazon and sitting back waiting for the money to roll in. Marketing your books is hard work. Book discovery is the big unsolved piece of the puzzle. People are a lot more likely to try a book from a publisher they like than some random author in the Kindle store. That is one of the reasons that Baen had so many successful new authors, that and the Baen monthly bundle.
But authors can obtain marketing services etc relatively cheaply without having to either pay an agent 15% or sign their rights away for evermore, or at least for a lengthy term. Publishers are not the only ones offering these services. It is not a stark choice between publisher/agent or do it all yourself.

Some people do prefer to try a book from a publisher they know. But many more, when faced with the high agency prices, are more than happy to try Indies. The Big 5 lost many readers forever during the agency conspiracy, and they continue to do so. This is why their share of the ebook market is in decline.

Baen is an innovative publisher who does many things right and even prices their books reasonably. Their e-arcs are expensive but genuinely give early access to works and worth it to someone who really loves an author. Baen, unlike the Big 5, has kept its head out of the sand.

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I still think that publishing will re-fragment as the capital cost of publishing drop. That could change the dynamics a bit as small publishers cut out the middle man/agents. That would involve a pretty big change in the way that business is done though.
Unfortunately it seems that the Big 5 at least will be in the rearguard of any such changes, trying valiantly to reverse direction. As I said, what my crystal ball shows is the Big 5 sourcing an ever-increasing share of books from successful Indies, whilst their own submissions from authors and agents decline. What this probably means is that they will pay much more for a book and likely acquire only partial rights. It sometimes makes good sense for a successful Indie to sell print rights to tradpub, though I doubt such an author would sign such rights away forevermore. But the Big 5 (to become the Big 3, 2 and maybe 1) will be forced to price their books competitively, which means their margins will likely fall dramatically. They will will need to be much leaner operations. What will save them, at least for a long time, is their existing intellectual property. They have many term of copyright rights, and many of these have a long time to run. I expect reversions will be few and far between, at least without substantial payment. If they really fail to adapt they may become little more than one of many small publishers, or even simply cease to publish new books and just collect on their old.

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Old Yesterday, 10:05 AM   #152
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As I said, very good business. Instead of the publisher paying the cost is shifted to all authors who get a contract. A very smart move.

Personally based on my reading I think literary agents with rare exceptions add little or no value other than providing the foot in the door to those who want a traditional publisher. Where we seem to differ mainly on this is that you seem to think they offer value for money apart from this function. I think such services if any are best sourced elsewhere and paid for in cash rather than a percentage. I expect that as time passes the new entry to traditional publishing will mostly be by way of self-publishing. We will of course see how well literary agents survive as time passes. My money is on not very well.




But authors can obtain marketing services etc relatively cheaply without having to either pay an agent 15% or sign their rights away for evermore, or at least for a lengthy term. Publishers are not the only ones offering these services. It is not a stark choice between publisher/agent or do it all yourself.

Some people do prefer to try a book from a publisher they know. But many more, when faced with the high agency prices, are more than happy to try Indies. The Big 5 lost many readers forever during the agency conspiracy, and they continue to do so. This is why their share of the ebook market is in decline.

Baen is an innovative publisher who does many things right and even prices their books reasonably. Their e-arcs are expensive but genuinely give early access to works and worth it to someone who really loves an author. Baen, unlike the Big 5, has kept its head out of the sand.



Unfortunately it seems that the Big 5 at least will be in the rearguard of any such changes, trying valiantly to reverse direction. As I said, what my crystal ball shows is the Big 5 sourcing an ever-increasing share of books from successful Indies, whilst their own submissions from authors and agents decline. What this probably means is that they will pay much more for a book and likely acquire only partial rights. It sometimes makes good sense for a successful Indie to sell print rights to tradpub, though I doubt such an author would sign such rights away forevermore. But the Big 5 (to become the Big 3, 2 and maybe 1) will be forced to price their books competitively, which means their margins will likely fall dramatically. They will will need to be much leaner operations. What will save them, at least for a long time, is their existing intellectual property. They have many term of copyright rights, and many of these have a long time to run. I expect reversions will be few and far between, at least without substantial payment. If they really fail to adapt they may become little more than one of many small publishers, or even simply cease to publish new books and just collect on their old.


Not being an author, I really don't have a personal point of reference as to how much value they provide. My only point of reference is what various authors have written. As I said, some authors appear to think they add a lot of value. I remember reading a Larry Corriea blog post talking about being an indie verses going the tradition publishing route and the pros and cons on both sides. Since he started as an Indie and still publishes some of his books via the indie route, I suspect he has a pretty good handle on the situation.

Fairly interesting Correia says he sold 2000 copies of MHI as an indie, and that is what got interest from Baen publishing. He started doing a serial novel on a forum, kind of like Baen's author use to do, so he already had a bit of a following before he self published. He also mentioned that the owner of Uncle Hugo's (the big SF&F book store) read the serial, pushed to MHI indie book to his customers and got him connected with Baen Publishing.

Here is a link to an interesting podcast on self publishing that interviews Correia
http://www.writingexcuses.com/2009/1...larry-correia/

That's where I picked up the information.

Corriea's comments on agents is - 1) he is unagented because he already has a relationship with Baen publishing. 2) on the other hand, agents have their upside, they can get you better contracts and deals you can't get on your own (he specifically mentions foreign language sales)

Here is the link to his comments.
http://monsterhunternation.com/2010/...get-published/

I think that the big difference is that I understand the author who likes his agent point of view. I have specific things that I like to do and am a firm believer in Napolean's maxim - ask anything of me but time. Time is my most valuable resource, not money. More money, I can get, but I can never get that time back. I pay someone to do the yard work because I hate yard work and it's worth it to me. When I bought my townhouse, I used a real estate agent and closing attorney who pretty much did all the grunt work. I just showed up at the closing with check in hand and signed lots of papers. It was worth it to me. So hiring someone to do a lot of the grunt work that you don't particularly like makes a lot of sense to me.


From a future point of view, I think that the big issue for indies is they are pretty much limited to ebook and audio book sales. Yes, Amazon has a paper publisher arm now, but based on the price difference, I suspect that paper sales tend to be a very, very small piece of the puzzle for them. That's the inverse of traditional publishing authors (and why Corriea went with Baen). Indies are never going to get in the bookstores, book racks at supermarkets, drug stores or news kiosks. Until the ratio is a lot closer to 50/50, I don't see that dynamic changing. We may be the hard core ebook readers on this forum, but that doesn't make us particularly representative of the majority of book customers.

I do think that the ebook market has gotten big enough that someone can make a good living and can be quite successful as an Indie. That's good. There are several Indies that are now in my buy list if I happen to find . I like good books, I don't really care where they are published. But Indies really will need to solve the discovery issue. Tor has a weekly newsletter. If Tor publishes a book that I'm interested in, I'm going to know about it. I've actually gotten notices for over the last several months for new books by J.A. Sutherland and Marc Alan Edelheit, so maybe Amazon is starting to figure it out.
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Old Yesterday, 10:22 AM   #153
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I don't see a need of that. Every book that has any literary value, be it even a crappy serial crimi or harlequin paperback printed on wastepaper, has been already scanned, digitalized, and stored on thousands of computers across the world. Otherwise, it is useless and unworthy of preservation/public access. Even libraries don't keep that junk.
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Old Yesterday, 11:28 AM   #154
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Originally Posted by Sarmat89 View Post
I don't see a need of that. Every book that has any literary value, be it even a crappy serial crimi or harlequin paperback printed on wastepaper, has been already scanned, digitalized, and stored on thousands of computers across the world. Otherwise, it is useless and unworthy of preservation/public access. Even libraries don't keep that junk.
Can you point me to the store selling a digital version of Adventures in Time and Space?
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Old Yesterday, 03:07 PM   #155
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Originally Posted by Sarmat89 View Post
I don't see a need of that. Every book that has any literary value, be it even a crappy serial crimi or harlequin paperback printed on wastepaper, has been already scanned, digitalized, and stored on thousands of computers across the world. Otherwise, it is useless and unworthy of preservation/public access. Even libraries don't keep that junk.
I'd be wary of judging books by what an ordinary library would keep. Libraries have finite space and a need to continually acquire contemporary books.

On a more serious note it is little benefit to researchers, or would be readers if a book is stashed on a few thousand computers without legitimate public access and many researchers have a use for certain types of written material regardless of literary merit.

[I've just been reading about the Modern English Oxford Dictionary and the possibilities provided by online digitised documents when trying to give the best history of a word. ]
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Old Yesterday, 06:38 PM   #156
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Originally Posted by Sarmat89 View Post
I don't see a need of that. Every book that has any literary value, be it even a crappy serial crimi or harlequin paperback printed on wastepaper, has been already scanned, digitalized, and stored on thousands of computers across the world...
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Can you point me to the store selling a digital version of Adventures in Time and Space?
Whether or not it is available in a store or not I have not looked, but as Sarmat89 was only claiming scanned, etc. and being on thousands of computers across the world, not availability in stores, I can verify that Adventures in Time and Space edited by Healy and McComas has been so made and is freely available (like at not cost, as is typical of such sources ) - only problem is I am not allowed to tell you where to find it unless all its stories are out of copyright in your country (I am picking that they are not) .

I am with Sarmat89 on this, there are very few books (in comparison to the millions out there) that have not been made available in digital form some place or another, and if one knows where to look.
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Old Yesterday, 07:07 PM   #157
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...I can verify that Adventures in Time and Space edited by Healy and McComas has been so made and is freely available (like at not cost, as is typical of such sources )...
I'm well aware. I helped in the cleaning up and formatting of it.

Regardless, not all books of worth have been scanned and uploaded, legally or otherwise.

Also, one person's trash is another person's treasure.
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Old Yesterday, 11:26 PM   #158
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From a future point of view, I think that the big issue for indies is they are pretty much limited to ebook and audio book sales. Yes, Amazon has a paper publisher arm now, but based on the price difference, I suspect that paper sales tend to be a very, very small piece of the puzzle for them. That's the inverse of traditional publishing authors (and why Corriea went with Baen). Indies are never going to get in the bookstores, book racks at supermarkets, drug stores or news kiosks. Until the ratio is a lot closer to 50/50, I don't see that dynamic changing. We may be the hard core ebook readers on this forum, but that doesn't make us particularly representative of the majority of book customers.

I do think that the ebook market has gotten big enough that someone can make a good living and can be quite successful as an Indie. That's good. There are several Indies that are now in my buy list if I happen to find . I like good books, I don't really care where they are published. But Indies really will need to solve the discovery issue. Tor has a weekly newsletter. If Tor publishes a book that I'm interested in, I'm going to know about it. I've actually gotten notices for over the last several months for new books by J.A. Sutherland and Marc Alan Edelheit, so maybe Amazon is starting to figure it out.
I haven't quoted your comments on agents and Mr Corriea. Thanks for the links. They made good reading. People do have different opinions and so far as literary agents go time will tell.

The market you refer to is essentially closed to Indies right now except if they do a deal with a traditional publisher for the print rights, as, for instance, Hugh Howey did years ago. This is partly because most such outlets boycott even Amazon imprints and have little interest in stocking books by individual Indie authors. But it is also the nature of the business. Self-publishing thrives because of the low barriers to entry. Publishing an ebook does not commit an author to large outlays for printing, warehousing and distributions.

Nevertheless I think there will eventually be a significant Indie content in these outlets. I can't see a day where Indie authors are themselves routinely financing large print runs etc. It will mainly be the province of Indie authors who have done very well with ebooks and POD and want to reach this additional sector of the market. They will do so by way of deals with traditional publishers, usually print only deals. We may even see some publishers founded purely to fill such a demand.
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