No, I do not know how long the commission lasts; I assumed it was the same as her other relationships since she did not specify otherwise. All her article says is: "Our commission is 15% on all those [digitally published] books as it is across the board."Courtney Milan said:Do you actually know that she's claiming an income stream "for life"? Because she very well might not be. I know my agent has "self-publishing services" (where she pays for a lot more than JD does), and she only claims two years as the distributor (but you still have the right, as the author, to pull the books entirely, if that's what you want.) Don't assume something is "for life" until you read the contract.
This might be a good deal for some if the term claimed is short enough. So if she's claiming 6 months, you, as an author, work with her for six months, you get the cover and ebook file, and then after 6 months, you put it up yourself. For authors that are busy enough, and/or aren't good enough.
My agent also allows authors to use her service to reach places they can't reach on their own--so, for instance, I do all the work on my books, pay for everything, and then give her the file and she puts it up on Overdrive and a handful of other places that I can't get to on my own. She gets 15% on those venues alone, I get 100% of what I put up myself on the other venues, and I can pull the files with 30 days notice.
For the conflict of interest thing: I think it is a conflict of interest for an agent to claim publishing rights. If an agent says to you, "No, you have to let me keep this file on Amazon/you have to keep this extremely [crappy] cover I came up with/blah blah blah" I think the agent is acting as a publisher--they're putting themselves in the driver's seat on your books, and that's a conflict of interest, one that I think is legally problematic at best. If they are doing things at your behest, and you're the one that's calling the shots--that's something that is well within an agent's bailiwick.
In my mind, the test is this: If you told the agent, "No, pull the book, I don't want to sell it anymore," does she have to do it? If the answer is "no," the agent is acting on her own behalf, and there is a conflict of interest. If the answer is "yes," the agent is acting on your behalf, and the agent is an agent.
Sorry, to clarify, Konrath was selling the virtues of it (as I recall) and DWS was most strenuously against it (100% sure on that).Sheila_Guthrie said:I need to find that Konrath post, where DWS was chiming in on this as being a good idea, as it goes against everything he posts on his blog about the author learning to do the business stuff themselves, or hire it out for a flat fee.
I don't think she takes just any indie. Here are her words: "More recently these indie authors, who were already tried and true because they have these great sales, would come to us. As long as they were good writers and they could tell a good story and I felt they had a writing future, I really wanted to try to help them."sarracannon said:I agree with Courtney in that this could be beneficial to some people, especially if the length of the agreement is reasonable. I have spent a lot of time looking at cover designers for various projects I have coming up and making the final decision on who is "right" for my project is time consuming. I'm lucky that my husband formats my novels, but if he didn't, I would be so lost, lol. I know there are walkthroughs, but I'm terrible with things like that. An agent as broker for services is the future, in my opinion.
The perfect agent for this job would be someone who keeps up with the talent and options available, has a wide network of artists and editors with different special skill sets, and has access to digital venues (like Overdrive) the average self-published author does not. A lot of us have learned how to do these things for ourselves, but haven't we also made some mistakes along the way? I know my first cover was awful! I've also made some formatting errors in the past that had to be corrected. It's been a learning process, sometimes painful. If an agent could take all that away and make it a smooth experience so that all you had to do was keep writing, it might be worth 15% for a limited time.
It would be unreasonable for an agent to front all the costs of production for many self-published authors. 15% of even a lifetime of terrible sales still might not cover edits and a great cover. I think the misunderstanding here is saying that all she's doing is uploading. What she's really doing is helping these authors find quality formatters, editors, and cover artists so they don't have to research and find their own.
Of course, you still have to make sure the agent is good at finding the right people for your project. And that they don't 'force' you to use their people if you don't like their work. I don't personally think this is something for me right now, but I could see where it would appeal to others.
ellecasey said:Jane Dystel: "We're not acting as a publisher; we're acting as an agent. Our commission is 15% on all those books as it is across the board... What we do is we help them [the authors] put their books up. They pay for the cover, the copy edit. We actually put the books up for them and we have accounts with all the retailers and we collect the money and pay them.
Smashwords has a HUGE client base, buyers of books who go to their site to shop. Dystel has nothing like that. That agency is not a retailer like Smashwords is. That's one way it's different. There are others.Cherise Kelley said:How is this any different from what Smashwords does? Plenty of us use Smashwords.
How many of us moan about how difficult it is to find good editors these days? Maybe for a newbie it is worth paying out 15% of future costs for referrals to vetted editors and cover artists and formatters.
But this varies from agent to agent. I know of agents who don't claim lifetime rights to an income stream.ellecasey said:No, I do not know how long the commission lasts; I assumed it was the same as her other relationships since she did not specify otherwise.
If they have her as an agent they are WELL past the "average" writer status and she is hardly "mercy-publishing". Of course, if the author can't bother to do hire their own subcontractors, who knows if they'll bother to do anything else for their books, such as marketing and promotion. But suggesting this is something the agency is doing from the kindness of their hearts is ... stretching credibility.Dalya said:15% of an *average* self-pubbed book's earnings isn't very much. I've been advising a few off-KB friends and my god it's time-consuming, just to hold the hand and offer a soothing word.
It's possible she's just offering a mercy-publish to people whose work she loves, but can't sell. It's possible this isn't a huge money-maker.
As for the full-service package people, they just get paid a flat fee, so I can see it as being no more or no less profitable than a firm that does website design, or an ad agency. I've worked at both, and they're not all glamorous like you see on TV.
Don't get me wrong! I'm still bitter and sore about promises broken by mean ol' agents.
I'd pay 18% for that. Minimum.Yeah, but you can tell people you have a literary agent. You can mention it at parties.
"My literary agent has suggested I write more shapeshifter lactation porn. She feels the market's about to swing that way."
Precisely. Dystel is simply climbing onto the rip-off-naive-authors bandwagon that we're seeing more and more publishers and agents launch as self-publishing peels off more and more authors from traditional publishing. It's a way to augment the bottom line with little of their own resources invested. When I read "15%" I always assume it means in perpetuity because that is the standard model in the publishing industry. It's too bad budding writers fall for these schemes. A few weeks scouring KB would arm them with the requisite knowledge to avoid rip-off traps like this.Jane has come across the idea that brokering services that Joe uses to ignorant self-publishers is a money making scheme.