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Sorry if you're all tired of it, but here's my take on the whole thing. http://bit.ly/ntm2Zm

And here's some of my post if you don't want to follow the link:

I don't think it's a conflict of interest for an agent to epublish their clients. There. I said it. (Please don't hit me with rotten tomatoes.) I'd like to address some of the arguments I'm seeing.

Agents should be representing the author. If they're publishing the author, who is representing them? - Okay, first of all, the reason we all want to get an agent is because the large publishing houses won't look at your book if you don't have an agent. They're the go-between. They get to read all the slush, find the books they like, and submit them to the large publishing houses. If you don't care about being published in a large house, you can probably submit your book to some smaller publishers all on your own. In fact, I know quite a few authors who have been published without an agent. I don't see anyone up in arms over what the small publishers are doing. They are doing something for the author that they don't want to do for themselves, and that is set up their own publishing company.

That's right, authors. You can set up your own print publishing company and do it all yourself. It's much easier now than it was 30 years ago. But how many authors want to go through that work and expense? A lot of them don't. So they sign with a small press, without an agent, and the press does the work. And guess what, the small press takes a cut of the profit.

But what if an agent selfishly tells you to publish with them instead of someone else? What if there's a deal on the table and they don't even tell you about it? - If you believe your agent is honest and trustworthy, why would starting up an epublishing company change that? And if you don't believe your agent is honest and trustworthy, why did you sign with them in the first place? To me, this comes down to checking with places like preditors and editors to make sure you're signing with someone reputable.

But agents know nothing about publishing. - Bull. How in the world can someone work as a literary agent and not know anything about publishing? Admit it, agents know something about publishing. Do they know everything? Of course not. But I don't know a single indie author who went into self-publishing knowing everything. There is a learning curve, and we're all on it. In fact, I'd guess that the average agent is better equipped to self-publish than most of the indie authors out there were before they took the plunge.

But the authors can do this themselves, for a lot less than 15% over the life of the book! - Sure, an author can self-publish an ebook, just like we've established that an author can start up their own publishing company and publish paper copies. I know some authors who have done this. However, not every author wants to. It's a lot of work, time and money. Well, guess what. It's a lot of work to self-publish an ebook too. Less work than starting up your own paper publishing company, less money, and less time, but still it's not something all authors want to do. In fact I'd venture a guess that some authors don't even have the internet on their computer. Heck, some of them might not even have a computer.
I know some people disagree with me, and that's fine. I just wanted to get this off my chest.

Vicki
 

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I think you make some important points, Victorine, but what The Passive Guy, in particular, points out is that the agent is then no longer an 'agent', whose job it is to represent authors and defend them.  The agent is a publisher.  The conflict of interest comes in if the agent is trying to both represent his clients and publish their work.  Authors have always worked with small presses on their own, but they were always free to hire an agent to negotiate for them if they were worried about it.  How does it work if one's agent is also one's publisher?  It would be kind of weird to hire an agent to deal with your agent.

I think there is an element in this too that has always bothered me about the writing world.  Pre indie-publishing--long ago in 2006 :)--as a total newbie myself, I was ignorant of this strange new world I'd gotten involved in.  Now, I agree that it is on me to educate myself, but sometimes you don't even know the right questions to ask.  If you are lucky enough to land an agent, that person, as your advocate, should be helping to educate you, I would think.  But now an agent-turned-publisher is just one more person trying to earn a buck out of a newbie author and NOT as their advocate.

Maybe everyone just shrugs about this and says 'that's business'.  But at least when agents were agents, they were interested in getting their clients the best deal because the more money the client made, the more they made.  Now, particularly with many of these agents doing some sort of 50-50 thing, it looks like the agents are far more actively looking out for themselves first.

I think you've clearly stated the other side of this discussion.  I'm just worried that this is yet another pitfall and scam for authors.
 
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