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Undercover
09-16-2013, 10:09 PM
For digital first agents, do they only send to digital publishers and not traditional ones? Aren't some of the traditional publishers digital already with their e-books?

What about those digital publishers, that do print later? Would that type of agent submit to those places too?

Digital first, doesn't mean digital only, but again I was hoping someone would clarify.

Old Hack
09-17-2013, 12:24 AM
Digital-first is effectively digital-only, I bet. Why would you pitch books to e-publishers first and only then approach publishers which deal with print and electronic editions? They're likely to sell far more copies than e-publihers, and so be more lucrative for both agent and author.

I wouldn't submit to an agent who only dealt with e-publishers, or who specialised in them. It seems silly to me to purposely limit one's options in this way, especially as most e-only publishers accept submissions direct from authors anyway.

(I made a similar comment in the L Perkins thread in BR&BC within the last couple of hours, where there's a similar conversation going on.)

fourlittlebees
09-17-2013, 12:31 AM
The other weird thing about this is that most of the digital first and e-only pubs take unagented submissions. And the contracts are pretty standard, and have low or no advance. I don't know how agents make a living doing this, and I honestly wonder what value is provided for the percentage when the money isn't great with these unless you are super-prolific as well as super-popular.

Undercover
09-17-2013, 12:46 AM
Both of you bring up very valid points as I have thought of that too. Glad I wasn't the only one. But I'm seeing more and more "digital-first" agents and I'm of course curious of learning more. Hey, who says not to weigh all your options, right?

kaitie
09-17-2013, 02:49 AM
Also if you get a contract from a small epub, does that agent then plan to try to get someone else to offer, too? It makes more sense to start high. Then if you get an offer and take it, you know you're probably getting the best thing you can. If you start small and get an offer that you take, it's possible that you would have gotten a better deal if you'd submitted to bigger pubs first.

After all, if two pubs would have offered and one is a big company willing to pay you thousands as an advance, and the other is a tiny place that doesn't give advances, which would you rather have?

Cathy C
09-17-2013, 03:05 AM
IMO, an agent is only as good as their contacts, so I'd be concerned their knowledge of the people in the print industry isn't strong enough to help me later in my career. I'd be wary of this as a business model.

gingerwoman
09-22-2013, 04:11 AM
I also find it a bit discouraging to look at regular agents (agents with very impressive reputations) latest deals and see they are often with digital only or digital first imprints that a person could submit to direct themselves.
So you go through all the hassle of getting an agent and then the big deal they get for you might be only a digital only or digital first line deal you could have got for yourself? I don't know what to think of it. I'm not trying to be rude. It's just kind of disappointing and puzzling to me. I'm probably missing something.

Old Hack
09-22-2013, 11:04 AM
They could be reissues of out of print books, Ginger, or subsidiary sales of books which are already available in print form, or novellas or books in tiny genres which the author's usual publishers can't publish well.

If they're not something like this, though, you're right to be concerned.

Donna Pudick
09-23-2013, 06:09 PM
This is the first I've heard of it. I currently know of no digital publishers who require an agent. If I have a client whose book I can't sell to print publishers, I'll ask them first if they want me to try an ebook publisher and/or offer to release them from their agreement with me. Most of them ask me to rep the ebook anyway. Others go their own way.

victoriastrauss
09-24-2013, 02:47 AM
I wouldn't submit to an agent who only dealt with e-publishers, or who specialised in them. It seems silly to me to purposely limit one's options in this way, especially as most e-only publishers accept submissions direct from authors anyway.
Or the agent may be inexperienced and/or lacking in knowledge, and is limiting him/herself to epublishers because they're easier to approach and more likely to respond. In which case there's another issue: if your agent lacks experience, s/he may not be able to recognize, much less negotiate to improve, a poor contract; and s/he will likely lack the contacts and expertise to sell subsidiary rights. Beyond getting books into editors' hands, those are two of the most important reasons to have an agent.

- Victoria

gingerwoman
09-24-2013, 06:45 AM
This is the first I've heard of it. I currently know of no digital publishers who require an agent. If I have a client whose book I can't sell to print publishers, I'll ask them first if they want me to try an ebook publisher and/or offer to release them from their agreement with me. Most of them ask me to rep the ebook anyway. Others go their own way.
So this is what would explain my seeing ebook deals on top agents websites which kind of confused me. The agent could not find a better deal for this book, and the client agreed to let them sub to digital first publishers.
So agents would ask before submitting to places right? They wouldn't just say "Hey I just got you a book deal with this e-press, how about it?"

Old Hack
09-24-2013, 10:31 AM
Good agents would certainly discuss such a change in tactics with their author-clients before going ahead. Others? Not necessarily.

Donna Pudick
09-24-2013, 05:58 PM
An agent should talk openly with a client whose book hasn't drawn interest from top editors. Many ebook publishers require special formatting or partials for submitting to them. Authors who are willing to prepare different versions of their manuscripts to different e-publishers can fare quite well, as long as they keep good records of what they sent to whom.

However, there are authors who don't want the hassle and either withdraw their manuscripts or ask the agent to do it for them. Sometimes the agent can get a better deal, but you have to balance that against the 15 percent the agent takes from royalties. As with any book, print or otherwise, royalties depend on sales. They can be great or bad, depending on how the publisher markets them and how the buying public reacts.

Hathor
09-26-2013, 05:03 AM
I thank you all for your insights on this very timely thread. I sent a query & 10 pgs to a young agent today who seemed to be asking for precisely my book yesterday during #mswl. I saw she had no reported sales, but she did have internships at two agencies and is currently at an agency that has made plenty of sales. She quickly asked for a full and seems quite enthusiastic in her personalized response.

During my research, I missed the line on the website that she reps only work intended for digital-first publishers. (I've decided to blame the contractors who were banging about in my house at the time.) She repeated the info in her email.

So. I've queried fairly widely, but do have people I've yet to approach. I have an outstanding full with one of the most successful agents in my genre, but it's been sitting there for some time now. Other subs haven't panned out. I don't want to settle...unless I have to.

Is it uncouth to ask her why she is limiting herself in this way or whether she would consider approaching print publishers first? Or is her business hers and the fact she wants to be digital-first tells me all I need to know about her ability to place something with a traditional publisher?

I don't know how someone could earn much using this business approach, unless they place lots of books and hope one takes off.

Undercover
09-26-2013, 05:50 AM
Hey Hathor, congrats on your full request. I would wait to see if she's completely interested and then you can ask her all the questions you have for her. I'm sure she'll be more than willing to tell you about her approach. You might find that it will interest you as well.

Good luck to you!!!!

Old Hack
09-26-2013, 10:07 AM
If she is only going to submit your work to digital publishers then she won't be representing you as well as she could: she'll be limiting your sales before she even starts.

I'd withdraw the submission.

Terie
09-26-2013, 10:31 AM
If she is only going to submit your work to digital publishers then she won't be representing you as well as she could: she'll be limiting your sales before she even starts.

I'd withdraw the submission.

This. And in this particular case, I'd probably even say why, since this agent needs to be made aware that by not representing clients well, she's not likely to get very many good writers submitting to her.

hikarinotsubasa
09-26-2013, 01:14 PM
Apologies if this is unrelated, but I've been following a couple of related threads (that L. Perkins Agency thread, although the agent in question doesn't seem to be there anymore?) and... I'm confused.

Most of the responses say don't sell yourself short by submitting to an epub agent. But... in certain genres (namely, in my case, M/M romance), is there any other option? Even Googling for "LGBT" instead of "M/M" (and I'm not at all sure that my sappy little love story encompasses any of the... larger issues? that the former implies), I've found just about ZERO agents who actually seem legit.

Saritza Hernandez at least seems like she does what she says she does, but as to whether that service is worth the cost... I'm not sure. Otherwise, I haven't found anyone who seems remotely interested in a love story between two men. And I'm not sure that the major publishers would be either.

Someday, someone is probably going to write a gay love story that breaks out and becomes the next Twilight or Fifty Shades... there are already books like Brokeback Mountain or Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Catch Trap, that were not specifically published with M/M publishers. Musicals like Rent or Hedwig and the Angry Inch have also become mainstream with QUILTBAG characters BUT.... for all practical purposes, are there some genres and some stories for which there really isn't anything better?

I mean... would people really feel like I was selling myself short with an incredibly quirky, derivative, too-long-for-a-debut M/M novel if I went straight to digital first publishers and/or an agent that dealt with them? I understand if it's a mainstream novel, that you'd want to at least TRY with someone more major before you settled for digital-only. But for anyone who has given that kind of advice... do you mean that for ALL genres?

I'm not sure if anyone else who has asked about these agents and publishers is dealing with a similar niche genre or not. But I guess what I've been wondering is... is there any reason at all for someone writing for such a small corner of the market to send a query to major agents or publishers? Or is that advice intended for people with more mainstream novels to sell?

Old Hack
09-26-2013, 02:25 PM
If you're writing primarily for a niche market, and that niche market will accept submissions directly from writers, doesn't pay advances and doesn't usually sell enough copies for their writers to earn significant amounts, then I too would wonder whether you needed an agent or not.

If your books are written in a genre which does sell in a wider sense, and which isn't such a niche market, then having LGBT characters or storyline shouldn't limit your choice of agents. As well as looking for agents who specifically represent writers of LGBT fiction, look for agents who represent writers of romance, if your book is a romance, or agents who represent thriller writers, if there's an element of thriller in your books.

Don't sell yourself short by categorising yourself into a corner--or by working with an e-book only agent when there's a much bigger market out there.

Undercover
09-26-2013, 03:00 PM
There's a lot more LGBT publishers out there then you think. At least in YA and NA there is. Not sure if your book is that too.

This agent may be limiting your options as to where she submits, but if she's interested in you, I don't think it would hurt to ask questions as to understanding what "digital first" means to her. I would hate for you to withdraw to only find out later that she does in fact submit to big publishers too. Say her strategy is, she'll try first with the small stable of contacts that she's built up, but then will focus digital-first afterwards?

I really haven't come across an article saying all digital first agents are only strictly devoted to e-pubs, that's it. Nothing else. This type of agenting is fairly new and I doubt it if every e-pub agent is working in the same exact manner. I just think it's worth a shot to at least ask some more, just to get a better understanding of it.

hikarinotsubasa
09-26-2013, 03:52 PM
Wow, I'm feeling very over my head. Think I am going to start my own thread here because I'd just be hijacking yours and a lot of what I want to ask doesn't have much to do with agents directly. ;)

I think the main concern with an agent who specializes in epublishers is that they might NOT have any connections with anyone else, especially if none of their prior sales are to print publishers.

Anyway, continuing to watch this thread but I think I need to ask some different questions of my own. :)

Hathor
09-26-2013, 04:43 PM
I think the main concern with an agent who specializes in epublishers is that they might NOT have any connections with anyone else, especially if none of their prior sales are to print publishers.



This agent says "exclusively" digital-first. Yet she's at an agency that makes plenty of traditional sales. Wouldn't her mentors help her out with contacts if need be?

Keep talking everyone. It sounds like this is an area of concern for a number of us.

Old Hack
09-26-2013, 05:01 PM
Why would the other agents help her out? They'll be too busy making sales for their own clients for that.

Hathor
09-26-2013, 05:17 PM
Why would the other agents help her out? They'll be too busy making sales for their own clients for that.

Admittedly, I don't understand the economics of literary agencies. If it's every agent for his- or herself, why bother to work together at all? Or hire young agents without clients or sales to date?

I've often wondered if they are structured like law firms, where the young folks don't usually have their own clients but do work for the higher ups and are paid a set salary (and success for the young via new clients ends up redounding to the economic benefit of the senior partners). How do these young agents, without reported sales, put food on the table and pay NY rents?

Undercover
09-26-2013, 05:18 PM
Why would the other agents help her out? They'll be too busy making sales for their own clients for that.

Junior Agents are mentored by senior agents all the time, what completely excludes regular agents from helping e-pub agents? Unless it's somewhere in the agency's policy that that's strictly prohibited, how do we know for sure it isn't happening?

hikarinotsubasa
09-26-2013, 05:27 PM
Just to clarify, I have not had any personal contact with Ms. Hernandez or ANY literary agent at this point. She's a well-known name, and therefore on my radar, but I have not yet decided whether to submit to her, to another epub agent, to a traditional agent, or to a publisher directly. :)

Knowing next to nothing about the industry (and honestly, I'd prefer to focus on the writing and not the business), I would LOVE to have an agent to take care of me. But I'm not sure that (in this and possibly other small genres) it's really a good option.

TaintedBoo
09-26-2013, 05:30 PM
I'm going to toss my question into the ring too.

Why would such a legit agency have a digital first agent if this wasn't something both profitable for the agency and good for the writers being represented?

I'm asking this fully admitting that I also have no idea how the internals of an agency works.

fourlittlebees
09-26-2013, 06:05 PM
Hikari,

I think there are two things at play:

One: By looking only at agents who specifically say they rep QUILTBAG, you are artificially limiting the pool UNLESS you are writing m/m or f/f romance or erotica. With the exception of J.R. W@rd, who took ages to get to that story line, the genres are still predominantly cis-het when it comes to the standalone titles. That being said, bestsellers can come out of digital-first pubs like S@mh@in all the time.

Two: If your novel isn't romance or erotica, the only thing you have to worry about when querying is an agent who specifically says they do NOT represent QUILTBAG. Yes, there are a few, but on the whole, you don't need to limit yourself to just those who call it out like it's a separate category altogether.

Does that make sense?

hikarinotsubasa
09-26-2013, 06:56 PM
Thanks. It's definitely M/M romance. The romance is the main (not only, but main) plot. It's not erotica, but it is definitely a novel about two men falling in love, not a novel about something else that happens to have gay characters.

I think I want a non-existant fairy god-agent who knows everything there is to know about every publisher (digital and otherwise) and knows exactly where my mess belongs. ;)

I'm interested in the answer to TaintedBoo's question too. I think that some of these agents aren't 100% full time agents, just like their authors aren't 100% full time authors... they can do their job online, so they may not live in New York or anywhere remotely close to the publishers. Still, they must be making enough money to make it worth their time.

So, 1) How much money DOES the average sale to a digital publisher make? 2) How much of that does the agent get? 3) How much time does the agent spend helping the author out, and what does the agent provide that the author couldn't do on their own (or could do, but doesn't necessarily have the time or expertise to handle alone?

Is #3 worth #2, and is #1 - #2 worth the trouble? I guess that's the question. But I have no idea. ;)

Old Hack
09-26-2013, 09:13 PM
Admittedly, I don't understand the economics of literary agencies. If it's every agent for his- or herself, why bother to work together at all? Or hire young agents without clients or sales to date?

Different literary agencies and agents work in different ways. For example, some agencies employ agents who work there full-time. Their author-clients are signed to the agency, not to specific agents, but the agents only work on their own clients' books and earn a salary plus a commission from each deal made. Other agencies rent desk-space to their agents, and take a commission off the agents' payments in return. In this model the authors are usually signed to the agents, rather than the agencies, but that's not always the case.

As for why agents don't all work for themselves: it's much cheaper for a group of agents to split the cost of office rental, services, and legal advice between them all than for each of them to have to cover all those costs each; and it is useful to have other agents at hand to discuss things with. Agencies will usually have foreign rights agents, accountants, contracts and royalty managers, and so on, which are all helpful; many have TV and film divisions, for example, so there is a useful crossover there.


I've often wondered if they are structured like law firms, where the young folks don't usually have their own clients but do work for the higher ups and are paid a set salary (and success for the young via new clients ends up redounding to the economic benefit of the senior partners). How do these young agents, without reported sales, put food on the table and pay NY rents?

The agents I know have assistants, who after a few years of getting to know how things are done and making contacts will take on a few clients of their own and become junior agents in their own right.


Junior Agents are mentored by senior agents all the time, what completely excludes regular agents from helping e-pub agents? Unless it's somewhere in the agency's policy that that's strictly prohibited, how do we know for sure it isn't happening?

My point was that the more experienced agents might offer advice and so on, but they aren't going to make sales for the e-pub agents, because they wouldn't make sales for writers who weren't their clients.


I'm going to toss my question into the ring too.

Why would such a legit agency have a digital first agent if this wasn't something both profitable for the agency and good for the writers being represented?

It might well prove profitable for the agency but in my opinion it's not in the best interests of the writers who the e-pub only agents sign up.

Again, in my view, this has worrying implications for the agency as a whole, and its attitude to the writers it represents.


I think I want a non-existant fairy god-agent who knows everything there is to know about every publisher (digital and otherwise) and knows exactly where my mess belongs. ;)

That's exactly what a good agent should be, along with all sorts of other things too.

Buy Carole Blake's book, From Pitch To Publication. It's a detailed and fascinating account of all that a good agent will do for their clients. You'll learn a lot from it.


So, 1) How much money DOES the average sale to a digital publisher make?

As I understand it, the few digital publishers which offer advances only pay small amounts: between $100 and $500, with the lower end being more common.

Royalties can be anything from about 25% to 50% of net price, and they're usually paid monthly or quarterly.


2) How much of that does the agent get?

Agents usually get 15% of an author's income, with 20% on foreign and some subsidiary rights sales. If the author gets paid an advance of $300 the agent will get $45. That isn't much for finding and negotiating a good deal, which is why I'm not entirely convinced that agents who are prepared to work this way are going to do a thorough job for their clients.


3) How much time does the agent spend helping the author out, and what does the agent provide that the author couldn't do on their own (or could do, but doesn't necessarily have the time or expertise to handle alone?

Is #3 worth #2, and is #1 - #2 worth the trouble? I guess that's the question. But I have no idea. ;)

Some agents do a lot to help their clients; others do very little. I can't imagine that agents who are earning less than $100 for the deals they make are going to spend much time doing their job, though.

Hathor
09-26-2013, 09:39 PM
...It might well prove profitable for the agency but in my opinion it's not in the best interests of the writers who the e-pub only agents sign up....


As I understand it, the few digital publishers which offer advances only pay small amounts: between $100 and $500, with the lower end being more common.

Royalties can be anything from about 25% to 50% of net price, and they're usually paid monthly or quarterly. ...

Agents usually get 15% of an author's income, with 20% on foreign and some subsidiary rights sales. If the author gets paid an advance of $300 the agent will get $45. That isn't much for finding and negotiating a good deal, which is why I'm not entirely convinced that agents who are prepared to work this way are going to do a thorough job for their clients.



I'm confused (not an uncommon experience). How could epub prove profitable for the agency if the agent is paid next to nothing?

Also, isn't the tradeoff, at least in part, the question of upfront advance vs royalty percentage? Traditional pub means higher advances; epub means higher royalties. Agents going the digital route wouldn't get much out of the advance, true, but they would get a percentage of those higher royalties, wouldn't they?

Of course, one needs to factor in which format would sell better and the difference in price, too.

I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you. Deciding digital pub only -- in advance and in all cases -- bothers me. I just want to make sure that my unease has some basis in fact and not my own lack of technological comfort (I've never read a digital book).

Old Hack
09-26-2013, 09:50 PM
I'm confused (not an uncommon experience). How could epub prove profitable for the agency if the agent is paid next to nothing?

Presumably the writer will earn more than their advance, and the agent will earn royalties on all those earnings.

The problem is that with such small advances, and no guarantee of many more royalties, the agents are not going to be very motivated to spend much time on ensuring that the contract is the best that it could be, or on ensuring that they've found the best deal for their author that they could.


Also, isn't the tradeoff, at least in part, the question of upfront advance vs royalty percentage? Traditional pub

It's TRADE PUBLISHING!

Gahhhh!


means higher advances; epub means higher royalties.

Trade publishing with a bigger publisher usually means higher sales, and a digital edition too. There are many more variables than you're presenting here.


Agents going the digital route wouldn't get much out of the advance, true, but they would get a percentage of those higher royalties, wouldn't they?

They would: but I've seen reported sales of less than 500 units on e-publishers' editions, which is pretty paltry even with those higher advances; and books which sold to e-publishers who expected to sell in such low numbers are unlikely to attract much, if anything, in the way of foreign and subsidiary rights sales, reducing the book's potential even further.


Of course, one needs to factor in which format would sell better and the difference in price, too.

I'm not saying you're wrong, mind you. Deciding digital pub only -- in advance and in all cases -- bothers me. I just want to make sure that my unease has some basis in fact and not my own lack of technological comfort (I've never read a digital book).

It bothers me, too. Not because I prefer print editions to digital ones (although I do), but because it limits sales in such an extreme way.

Hathor
09-26-2013, 10:19 PM
Thanks, Old Hack. I'm understanding the subject much better now.

Sorry about the traditional vs. trade. I've seen people using the first term -- is it a no-no for some reason?

Undercover
09-26-2013, 10:28 PM
Well what bothers me is that most (if not all?) e-pubs accept submissions directly from the author. Isn't one of the benefits of having an agent is so you can get into the places that only accept agented subs? Are there agent-only e-pubs out there? If so, I wasn't aware of any.

waylander
09-27-2013, 12:24 AM
Well what bothers me is that most (if not all?) e-pubs accept submissions directly from the author. Isn't one of the benefits of having an agent is so you can get into the places that only accept agented subs? Are there agent-only e-pubs out there? If so, I wasn't aware of any.

Yes.
Another benefit is that agents can get you a better deal than you can get for yourself.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 12:39 AM
Sorry about the traditional vs. trade. I've seen people using the first term -- is it a no-no for some reason?

Go to the Self Publishing room and read the sticky "guidelines" thread there: there's a good explanation, and a few links to follow too.

Hathor
09-27-2013, 12:42 AM
Go to the Self Publishing room and read the sticky "guidelines" thread there: there's a good explanation, and a few links to follow too.

Okey-doke. I haven't considered self-publishing (yet) so I haven't visited that room before.

Undercover
09-27-2013, 12:53 AM
Yes.
Another benefit is that agents can get you a better deal than you can get for yourself.

True. But if you got the deal yourself, you wouldn't have to pay the 15% to the agent. What really is the better deal then? The better deal from the agent or keeping that extra 15% might wind up averaging out anyway, more or less.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 12:58 AM
True. But if you got the deal yourself, you wouldn't have to pay the 15% to the agent. What really is the better deal then? The better deal from the agent or keeping that extra 15% might wind up averaging out anyway, more or less.

If agents only got their authors one deal per book then this reasoning might hold water: but as they try to also sell foreign and subsidiary rights, it's not nearly as straightforward as you imply.

Little Ming
09-27-2013, 01:52 AM
True. But if you got the deal yourself, you wouldn't have to pay the 15% to the agent. What really is the better deal then? The better deal from the agent or keeping that extra 15% might wind up averaging out anyway, more or less.


If agents only got their authors one deal per book then this reasoning might hold water: but as they try to also sell foreign and subsidiary rights, it's not nearly as straightforward as you imply.

Are we still talking about digital-first agents, or agents in general?

I'm curious for digital-first authors, how likely are they to use their subsidiary rights? If "digital-first" does tend to mean "digital-only," is it worth getting an agent so early in the process? (I assume if you have a runaway smash hit, you can get an agent later. ;))

Honest questions, I am unfamiliar with the digital-first market.

Undercover
09-27-2013, 02:31 AM
If agents only got their authors one deal per book then this reasoning might hold water: but as they try to also sell foreign and subsidiary rights, it's not nearly as straightforward as you imply.

I know it's not as straightforward as that. Sorry, I didn't mean to sound that way. I was just pointing out that, with a digital-first agent, you might be breaking even with or without one. Or perhaps may be better off without one. I can see the agent helping you retain your foreign rights, but when selling it, isn't that up to the foreign rights agent of that agency to take that on? Or does the agent take care of that as well?

Not every book sold by the agent gets their foreign rights sold either. It all depends.

And you bring up a good point, Little Ming, this all might be different for digital-first agents too. Since they are limiting themselves to e-pubs, they might be limiting themselves to other things as well.

gingerwoman
09-27-2013, 05:05 AM
Hikari,

I think there are two things at play:

One: By looking only at agents who specifically say they rep QUILTBAG, you are artificially limiting the pool UNLESS you are writing m/m or f/f romance or erotica. With the exception of J.R. W@rd, who took ages to get to that story line, the genres are still predominantly cis-het when it comes to the standalone titles. That being said, bestsellers can come out of digital-first pubs like S@mh@in all the time.


I submitted to Samhain through the slush pile because I thought it would be faster than trying to get an agent and because my book was LGBT erotic romance.

gingerwoman
09-27-2013, 05:12 AM
If agents only got their authors one deal per book then this reasoning might hold water: but as they try to also sell foreign and subsidiary rights, it's not nearly as straightforward as you imply.
There is no DRM on a lot of digital first lines. I have no DRM on my novel as a digital book so people can buy it in digital form anywhere in the world.
The print version will be POD so I don't know that there are any foreign rights necessary for POD? Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think for Ellora's Cave, Loose ID, Siren, Samhain, Total Ebound that the whole foreign rights thing even applies? It appears to be a different set of rules from the whole print run thing. I mean if I try to buy a digital book from Harlequin online and my account says I live in New Zealand a message will come up saying I am not allowed to buy it because of geographical restrictions, which is something to do with foreign rights, but if I buy something from their digital first line Carina I am allowed to buy it it has no DRM no foreign rights restriction.
So I don't know if there is other stuff I don't know about, but that is what I know.

gingerwoman
09-27-2013, 05:28 AM
They would: but I've seen reported sales of less than 500 units on e-publishers' editions, which is pretty paltry even with those higher advances; and books which sold to e-publishers who expected to sell in such low numbers are unlikely to attract much, if anything, in the way of foreign and subsidiary rights sales, reducing the book's potential even further.


.

You've seen less that 500 units over how long a period?

Terie
09-27-2013, 07:54 AM
You've seen less that 500 units over how long a period?

My novel released from an e-only publisher sold 15 (fifteen) copies in the first year.

gingerwoman
09-27-2013, 08:17 AM
Oh yes sorry that kind of thing happens all the time. I just wondered how long after release did she think less than 500 paltry.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 10:50 AM
Gosh. Lots of questions.


Are we still talking about digital-first agents, or agents in general?

I'm curious for digital-first authors, how likely are they to use their subsidiary rights?

An agent who is happy to only submit to e-publishers and doesn't even try for a print deal is settling for a low advance and, probably, low sales for her authors. I know royalties from most e-publishers are higher, which will make up in part for those lower sales: but lower sales means fewer readers, which is going to have knock-on effects on all subsequent books too. And that means that an author's career is unlikely to build well.

The only way I can see an agent doing well in this scenario is to make a lot of deals quite quickly. So, she'll sell her clients' books: but she won't spend much time negotiating a better contract for them, she won't spend much time exploring the best options for them, and so on. And she's unlikely to spend much time trying to sell other rights either.

Foreign and subsidiary rights are a huge potential earner, too. Writers shouldn't overlook them.


If "digital-first" does tend to mean "digital-only," is it worth getting an agent so early in the process? (I assume if you have a runaway smash hit, you can get an agent later. ;))

Once you've sold a book that's it. You're very unlikely to find an agent willing or able to take it on after it's been a hit (it's likely you'll have sold all rights to it in the original contract, so there's nothing for an agent to sell anyway). You could get an agent for subsequent books, of course.


I can see the agent helping you retain your foreign rights, but when selling it, isn't that up to the foreign rights agent of that agency to take that on? Or does the agent take care of that as well?

Some agents take care of their own foreign rights sales. Some agencies have agents who take care of all foreign rights sales for the agency, and who make no domestic sales. The former is usually better than the latter, as an author's own agent is likely to be more passionate about the book, and more interested in selling it. All agents and agencies tend to work with overseas agents, which accounts for the increase in agency commission on these sales.


Not every book sold by the agent gets their foreign rights sold either. It all depends.

I can't think of any good agents who don't routinely sell foreign rights for their clients' books.

Most books will sell into perhaps four or five foreign territories, plus large print and audio. An agent-friend of mine averages twenty two foreign rights deals for each of her clients' books, and aims to ensure that her clients get a cheque every week, even if it's only a small one.

As you can imagine, this can be very nicely lucrative for the writers concerned.

And as you can also imagine, I can't see a digital-first agent doing this for any of her clients.


There is no DRM on a lot of digital first lines. I have no DRM on my novel as a digital book so people can buy it in digital form anywhere in the world.

DRM and foreign rights are two separate things, Ginger. They're not related.

DRM is meant to stop people pirating a book and selling it themselves, without paying anything to the publisher or writer.

Foreign rights restrict the territories in which the publisher can make authorised sales of the book.


It appears to be a different set of rules from the whole print run thing.

No: rights restrictions still apply. What's different is that there doesn't seem to be the same voraciousness to make the most of a book's sales in the e-publishing world that there is in the bigger, print-first trade publishing world.

If your book is selling all over the world then it's likely the e-publishers you've dealt with buy world-rights to your books.

This is fine if they have a good track record of selling them on: but if all they're doing is taking all rights, and then only exploiting a small proportion of them, then it's not so good.

If they take all rights but have never sold a book for translation then they should only take English language world rights, or they should investigate the possibility of working with a foreign rights agent. They have a huge reservoir of good books with unexploited rights: they're ignoring a very strong potential income stream, right there.


You've seen less that 500 units over how long a period?

Over the life of a contract.


Oh yes sorry that kind of thing happens all the time. I just wondered how long after release did she think less than 500 paltry.

If a book doesn't sell 500 copies in its first six months I'd be very concerned. I'd expect it to sell that in its first month, if not its first week after publication.

hikarinotsubasa
09-27-2013, 12:52 PM
I live in Japan and have had the same experience. Digital-first small presses, I have no problem. Otherwise I have had to assign a friend's US address to my Kindle account (fortunately Amazon doesn't require a US credit card like the Nook does) to order a lot of books I want. (Although that isn't always great... for whatever reason Ursula K. LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness is available for Kindle from amazon.co.jp, and not from amazon.com)

International rights issues drive me bloody crazy actually... that may be a point in favor of digital-first. I'd like my book to be accessible to anyone who wants to read it, wherever they happen to live.

Just thinking about foreign-language translation, film rights... seems so beyond me. Sure, my beta and I joke about casting my characters in the movie sensation of the year... but I don't honestly believe it's going to happen. But, I guess I would feel awful if someone WAS interested, and the rights had already been signed away to a press that wasn't going to do anything with them.

I think I'm starting to feel that digital-first or digital-only is not a terrible option in all cases... but that there's not much need for an agent there.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 01:09 PM
You're prevented from buying those books because the publisher you're trying to buy them from doesn't have the right to sell them in the territory you're buying them from.

This really isn't a DRM issue, nor is it anything to do with digital-first agents or publishers. It is a rights issue.

If the author has licensed world rights to a publisher, and they publish an edition which is available worldwide, you should be able to buy their versions wherever you are.

If the author has licensed world rights to a publisher which only publishes a UK version and does nothing with the rest of the rights, you'll only be able to buy that book legally in the UK.

There is no guarantee that working with a digital-first agent or publisher will make your books available worldwide. It all depends on what rights you sell, and how your publisher uses the rights it acquires.

ETA: I agree that DRM doesn't stop pirates, but that's what it's meant to do.

gingerwoman
09-27-2013, 01:20 PM
Oh well I guess I shouldn't have posted about this stuff. I know almost nothing about how foreign rights work. The reason it came up was because I had some doubts about agents selling a lot of foreign rights on digital only and digital first books. But I don't really know.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 04:44 PM
Of course you should post things here, Ginger. It's good when people ask questions.

Hathor
09-27-2013, 05:37 PM
I asked about this subject over on Uncle Jim's thread. This (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=8452999&postcount=2579) is what he had to say.

I'm now inclined to pass on the opportunity to submit my full. I don't want to restrict my options.

Old Hack
09-27-2013, 06:50 PM
I'll quote the post that Hathor linked to:


My thought is, why are the agents limiting themselves to one format? Suppose there's a non-digital-first publisher that would be a better fit for the book? That's like going with an agent who says they'll only submit to paperback-original houses. Why?

Those guys are advertising, "Our business model is to leave money on the table!"

I doubt you'll find many (if any) top-tier agents in their ranks.

That's pretty much what others have said in this thread, I think.

Hathor
09-27-2013, 06:58 PM
I just told the agent thanks, but no thanks. That's the first time I've rejected an agent, rather than the reverse. It felt strange.

I'm trying to cope with my immediate regrets. Another (but standard) request today would definitely help with that.

Thedrellum
09-28-2013, 05:54 PM
Hathor,

I went through the same thing of rejecting an agent (in my case, I hadn't properly researched her beforehand) without having any other offers on the table.

Eventually, luckily, a few months later I found an agent who I had researched and am really, really happy with.

I guess what I'm saying is this: I feel for you; good luck with the rest of your search; and, as many people on these boards have said, it's better to have no agent than a bad one (bad, in this case, meaning Not the best fit for you).

Hathor
09-28-2013, 06:18 PM
Yeah, the information was right there on her website description, but I missed it. I've decided to blame the contractors banging around my house.

I suppose I shouldn't have tried querying with all the uproar around me. I just saw a #MSWL description and it sounded so like my book...

At least she expressed interest, which is something.

I'm glad you ultimately found the right agent for you. It gives me a ray of hope.

Donna Pudick
09-30-2013, 05:54 PM
Speaking from experience, it's a lot of work to prepare manuscripts and submissions to ebook publishers. They all want something different, and no two contracts are alike. If the book is really successful, I suppose the work is worth it, and we've had some very successful ebooks published. But if we were to be paid by the hour, instead of on commission, we'd be way behind on work vs. rewards. I just don't see digital only being a sound business practice. Just sayin....

Vespertilion
10-02-2013, 04:04 AM
Just saw this tweet (https://twitter.com/loriperkinsrab/status/385185411963682817) from Lori Perkins, intro'ing a new agent as the one who "discovered" Fifty Shades.

The agent, Tish Beaty, is listed as an ePub agent. (http://lperkinsagency.com/meet_the_agents)

gingerwoman
10-02-2013, 07:23 AM
Just saw this tweet (https://twitter.com/loriperkinsrab/status/385185411963682817) from Lori Perkins, intro'ing a new agent as the one who "discovered" Fifty Shades.

The agent, Tish Beaty, is listed as an ePub agent. (http://lperkinsagency.com/meet_the_agents)
She must have been an acquiring editor at The Writer's Coffee Shop.

Old Hack
10-02-2013, 10:27 AM
Note that Lori Perkins is a literary agent who set up her own digital publishing house, Ravenous Romance, which is a direct conflict of interests; the Lori Perkins agency has employed digital-only agents in the past; and (if I've got this right) The Writers' Coffee Shop press specialised in publishing fan fiction, which seems to me to be a direct copyright infringement.

The Lori Perkins agency, its digital imprint Ravenous Romance, and The Writers' Coffee Shop press each have their own threads in BR&BC if you'd like to continue any specific discussions there or look up any background to this aspect of the conversation. (I'd provide links, but I'm having a few connection problems at the moment.)

That the Perkins agency has employed another digital-only agent shows that having one on the books is working for them; but it is such a restrictive way to work that I doubt very much that this is the best option for the writers who those agents represent.

Vespertilion
10-02-2013, 08:16 PM
Thanks, Old Hack.

I'd noticed this thread and read through, and when I saw that tweet, thought this would be a good place to put it. I probably should have thought of something more substantive to go with the discussion here, but I was mostly chuckling over the "discovered" thing. Like she was hunting through the wilds of fandom, Indiana Jones style, for treasures unknown to the outside world. Or saw FSoG pulling sodas at the Fandom Pharmacy in a tight sweater, and like its look. :D

I do wonder if having her on the books, and billing her that way, is something of an encouragement for more fic writers to approach the agency with their work.

fourlittlebees
10-03-2013, 04:40 AM
A bit of history about TWCS: it came out of fan fictions that were removed by Fanfiction.net for TOS violations for both ratings (M and MA fics aren't permitted there) and content matter (abuse, human trafficking, rape as erotic content).

So it's less about "discovery" and more about "there is this hugely popular fan fiction that no longer has a home where it was, so let's get those pageviews." MOTU, as it was known back then, had tens of thousands of reviews; it wasn't languishing undiscovered.

As for any agent; I'd honestly be concerned about experience in publishing (beyond a fan fiction file 'n pub), as well as the digital-only angle, which, as we've already noted, doesn't really seem necessary when these publishers accept unagented submissions.

Then you get into the ethical questions about this agency (OH, those are in violation of AAR, right?) and I see red flags everywhere.

gingerwoman
10-07-2013, 05:51 AM
Note that Lori Perkins is a literary agent who set up her own digital publishing house, Ravenous Romance, which is a direct conflict of interests; the Lori Perkins agency has employed digital-only agents in the past; and (if I've got this right) The Writers' Coffee Shop press specialised in publishing fan fiction, which seems to me to be a direct copyright infringement.

.
I'm not sure about that. What happened with TWCS was that they had a fan fiction community posting fan fiction on their site which yes...is copyright infringement although these free fan fic sites seem to be largely ignored by the enormously popular authors that seem to inspire fan fic communities, and treated as free publicity. But what TWCS published for money were and are I think only books that had at least been transformed from fan fiction into original fiction such as Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean Fifty Shades of Grey is not about vampires, it is not set in a High School I don't think it lifts any passages from Twilight? It was inspired by Twilight.
I don't write fan fic and it's not really part of my world, but from what I've read I don't really think TWCS is as terrible as is being made out in this thread?

fourlittlebees
10-07-2013, 06:24 PM
But what TWCS published for money were and are I think only books that had at least been transformed from fan fiction into original fiction such as Fifty Shades of Grey. I mean Fifty Shades of Grey is not about vampires, it is not set in a High School I don't think it lifts any passages from Twilight? It was inspired by Twilight.

This is where everything gets murky. FSoG wasn't "transformed" from anything. It's nearly identical to the original fan fiction as it was first posted on Fanfiction.net. Those who've run it through plagiarism software show that the published text is 88% similar to the original: about what you'd expect when you see names and descriptions changed.

Fanfiction isn't always set in the world of the canon material. Much of it is called "AU" or "alternate universe" which is how Edward can be written as a human billionaire CEO or a human barista or any number of things.

As to whether fanfic as a whole can be considered "copyright infringement" that would have to be decided by a court. As none of the property owners took FSoG to court, that issue was never decided, and the resulting glut of former fanfic that's been published seems to have established a precedent.

And there's been fanfic published with vampires, too.

For more info about how all this goes down (and about fanfic in general), there's a great book coming out in December that talks about fic, the legalities as they're understood, and what all went on with this trend. [Disclosure: I have an essay in it].

writer1709
10-25-2013, 02:08 AM
TWCS was created by the Twilight fandom, same with the Publisher Omnific, the majority of their books published are originally Twilight fanfiction stories.

Secondly you don't want to publish with TWCS because they make the authors sign a NDA, if publishers have you sign a NDA RUN THE OTHER WAY. The only thing you get from TWCS is poorly edited books.

Also Tish was an editor for TWCS, she so called "edited" FSOG, if you could call it editing. What fish brained editor can't tell the difference in British Diction and the American language.

gingerwoman
10-25-2013, 09:59 AM
lol FSOG is so completely British, pretending it is set in the USA does not work.