Anyone who has undertaken the arduous task of self-publishing a book with the intention of seriously bringing a quality manuscript to fruition, whether through print or strictly ebook, can testify as to the time-consuming difficulty and frustrations that can accompany the process. There are even individuals whose sole purpose is to help these authors navigate the waters of indie publishing, for a fee of course.
Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, a widely respected New York agency, announced this past Tuesday that they would begin working with self-published authors to digitally publish their books, news that brought on a firestorm of comments from both sides of the debate that DGLM accidentally started. The original announcement can be found here, along with a follow-up post.
According to their blog where the announcement was made, “we have been following developments in e-publishing with great interest. As an agency that has prided itself on being a bit of a maverick among the stodgy old guard, we have always been more intrigued than scared about this new world of e-books. The consensus among us, even after listening to the doomsayers, has been that e-publishing will re-energize our business and create more readers.”
In light of that sentiment, DGLM will begin working with authors who retain the rights to their out-of-print books in order to publish them electronically. They will also be taking on new clients, and in some cases, even unpublished clients.
“Over the past months and years we’ve come to the realization that e-publishing is yet another area in which we can be of service to our clients as literary agents. From authors who want to have their work available once the physical edition has gone out of print and the rights have reverted, to those whose books we believe in and feel passionately about but couldn’t sell—oftentimes, after approaching 20 or more houses—we realized that part of our job as agents in this new publishing milieu is to facilitate these works being made available as e-books and through POD and other editions,” from the DGLM blog.
When looking from the viewpoint that the sole function of a literary agent is to be a champion to bring a book to publication, it should not matter whether that publication takes the form of paper and glue, or encoded words on a screen. However, there are some guidelines that DGLM is bringing to this unchartered water of literary representation.
“As you know, the print publishing market is pretty competitive and probably only the e-books that either sell many, many copies or generate tremendous buzz will be able to successfully make the transition to print publishing. We don’t want to mislead anyone into thinking that the road to getting a print deal will be necessarily smoother,” says Miriam Goderich when asked about the likelihood that this model of representation could open the door to a traditional publishing deal for a previously unknown author. “Because we are first and foremost agents, not publishers, we are not going to be working with everyone who just wants to self-publish. Our intent is to continue to take on those projects that we really believe in and which we think have potential either through traditional means or electronic media.”
As people who have earnestly been following the trends in digital publishing prior to making this landmark decision, DGLM feels that the current market for e-publishing success is to be found in the various genres of fiction. “The success stories in self-publishing are most prevalent in category fiction right now. Given how quickly e-publishing is growing, this will undoubtedly change to include more general fiction and non-fiction, but for the moment romance, thrillers, horror, fantasy and science fiction, YA and commercial women’s fiction will be the most viable categories.”
Goderich stressed the point that DGLM will not be opening its own publishing imprint, but rather sees this move as yet another mechanism for meeting the needs of authors, as it has done since it first opened its door. “We’ll be uploading and managing content on all the existing platforms (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Apple, etc.) and will explore other emerging options. And, yes, we are not publishers. Thank you for letting us state that again. We are agents adding just a new set of services to the list of things we already do. The goal is to help our clients be as successful as possible in this medium while allowing them to pursue their creative work.”