Seeking Representation – Indie authors and agents (Part 1)


When I was almost ready to publish my first book, I did my due diligence and looked into my options. There was of course traditional publishing, through one of many Australian publishing agencies, or self-publishing, through a service such as CreateSpace or KDP (Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing). I chose the latter based on a number of writer’s seminars I’d attended and the fact it was going to be a great deal easier than begging and pleading with publishers. I also wanted to see how my book faired on the market, getting direct and real feedback from readers rather than publishers (if lucky enough to even be assessed/read).

So now, after two self-published books, I feel I have a product and something people like and want to read. If I were a marketing guru and didn’t have a full time job, I’d probably choose now, the month before I finish the final book in the Ruthless trilogy, to ramp up my campaign and really try and sell these suckers. But, I’m not (a marketing guru nor choosing this course of action). Instead I am looking towards traditional publishing options again and this time I am investigating the value of writers’ agents.

Writers agents (or literary agents) represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiation. More importantly in submitting to publishers, they target the editors/publishers who are best suited to your work, and thereby more likely to a) not reject your submission, and b) have the mechanisms in place to publish it well.

Through my research, I found that despite many publishers now opening the door to unsolicited manuscript submissions, few submissions, via this route, are actually read. Publishers generally rely on writers’ agents to sort out the wheat from the chaff. They are much more likely to read a submission made via an agent than via an unsolicited manuscript harvest. I also found it can be somewhat harmful to have self-published a book when seeking a traditional publishing deal. This is because, publishers want numbers. They want to know a product is saleable before they invest in it. When you are unpublished, this is a gamble the publisher will take based on the quality and content/genre of the book, but if you are published, they will want sales! Unfortunately, sales are not always a good representation of a books saleability (sounds like an oxymoron I know). This is because sales rely on marketing and in a flooded market like eBooks and publishing, if you don’t have good, consistent and snappy marketing, you don’t have good, consistent and snappy sales.

This is an interesting article that talks about the value of agents and why you should avoid submitting to publishers directly: http://editorialass.blogspot.com.au/2008/09/why-you-should-never-submit-unagented.html 

In my next post, I will gather together some good articles on how to find and approach an agent. This is all new to me too so I’ll let you know what I’ve tried and whether I’ve had any success soon.

Update: Part 2 now available

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KDP Select or Reject


After reading what seems like every single blog post and article on the subject, I still don’t know whether I should sign up for KDP Select or not. Every scathing review has an opposing  tribute, every word of warning is dimmed by a success story. I just don’t know.

I am one of these people who doesn’t like to shop at the giant supermarkets if I can help it- and if I have to shop there I refuse to by their “home brand”. KDP Select smells somewhat like the beginning of one of these giant retailers that stack their shelves at eye height with their own, well disguised brands and make you have to ask for assistance to reach anything else.

Indie authors are lured in with the promise of big $ale$ supported by lending (that counts towards sales rankings) and five free promotion days. In return they must sell their ebook exclusively via KDP (with the decision to renew every 3 months).

If you are like me, that is not such an issue because you have just released your ebook and you don’t have any sales cred to lose by cancelling your distribution through other retailers (such as Apple and B&N). In that case, shouldn’t the decision be easy? Not for me, because I still have concerns about the long term future of indie ebook publishing. If readers can’t find titles they want on other retail sites then why would they return? KDP has everything they need. Dare I use the M word here? If KDP ends up having a monopoly on ebook publishing, then indie authors end up with no choice. No choice means that KDP can do what ever they want. They could sell our books for what ever price they feel is right and there would be nothing authors could do about it.

It’s a scary thought and I’m hoping an overly imaginative one. Perhaps if authors pushed back and wrote to KDP about concerns such as these, there may be a change in their policy. Authors should have the right to sell their ebooks through as many retailers/distributors as possible- let’s face it, we need all the help we can get. In my opinion KDP should stand out as a leader because of its sales records and opportunities not because it’s the only horse in the race.

There are plenty of good articles/posts on the subject but I have listed just a few here (good and bad). I will post an update soon with my decision and hopefully some positive results.

http://publishingperspectives.com/2012/01/is-kdp-select-salvation-or-damnation-for-indie-authors

http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/12/amazon-shows-predatory-spots-with-kdp.html

http://selfpublishingadvice.org/blog/amazon-plays-indie-authors-like-pawns/

http://karol.gajda.com/kdp-select/

http://skipjackpublishing.com/interesting-and-not-in-a-good-way/