ePublishing Impact upon Agents

Source: The Passive Voice, May 2012

I do spend more time than ever interacting with readers and fans. I do that through Facebook, Twitter, and my blog. Every day I talk to readers and listen to what they’re saying, I bounce ideas off them and discuss plots, covers, and characters. I have even started using some of the more enthusiastic as proof-readers. Readers have moved from the bookstores to the internet, and I’ve moved with them.

I think agents will be the hardest hit by the eBook revolution. There is almost no negotiation with Amazon over royalty rates so if you are dealing with them it’s pointless to pay an agent fifteen per cent. It used to be agents who acted as the gatekeepers – more trendy jargon – and they pretty much decided who got published and who didn’t but that has changed. Self-published authors who do well are quickly spotted. The market acts as the gatekeeper – if a hundred thousand people buy an eBook you don’t need an agent to give it a stamp of approval. If publishers realise that they will start to do what they used to do and go looking for talent themselves. The biggest mistake publishers made was to do away with their slush piles and only take submissions from agents. That is already changing.

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