I had a great visit to New York, justified in part by our friends’ wedding anniversary (a fabulous rooftop renewal of vows ceremony and dinner) and, in part, by a desire to touch base with my agent. The major downside about moving back to Australia is the sheer distance it is from anywhere else. It literally took a day and a half of travel to get from Melbourne to NYC…so I was really hoping that the visit was worth it!
Meeting my agent was important for three things: 1) to get feedback on my WIP; 2) to discuss next proposals and plans; and 3) to get insight into the industry (as it continues to change, an agent’s perspective is always helpful). I also think there is no real substitute for a face-to-face meeting.
Thankfully, the feedback on all three was extremely positive, and perhaps just as importantly, my agent seemed pretty optimistic about the publishing industry in general. A year or so ago he seemed much more subdued – but (no surprise for us TKZers here) the success of e-books has definitely buoyed the industry. Here’s a few things I took away from our meeting:
- Though the YA market continues to be vibrant, the mystery/thriller market is still tough going, with many houses streamlining their lines and focusing (again, no surprise) on their bestselling authors. It remains tougher than ever to get published (in fact, I doubt my first book would ever have sold in this market – which is a depressing thought!).
- E-books have become extremely profitable for publishers and are creating greater opportunities for publishers to target readers. A few years ago most publishing decisions were driven by what the buyers from Barnes&Noble and Borders liked. Such market concentration wasn’t necessarily a good thing (for writers or readers) but now, e-books present a huge opportunity for a more ‘level playing field’. Even Amazon doesn’t command a massive market share and the growth of the Nook and other e-reader/book options is making the market more ‘democratic’ and accessible. Good news for authors and readers alike!
- Given all the industry changes, agents are re-evaluating how they can advise and work with their clients on publishing e-books (particularly for their backlist). As there is potential for conflict of interest, agents are looking into the options carefully. There are now companies who work only with agents and their published writers in this respect. I think it will be interesting to see how this pans out – especially as many writers are already choosing to go it alone and self-publish their e-books with or without an agent.
So my question to you all is: how do you view the role of agents changing in this current environment (apart from selling your work to a traditional publisher)? Have your expectations regarding an agent changed with the success of e-books? If you are unpublished, are you still seeking agency representation?