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 Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?

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michelleakamimi



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Registration date : 2008-04-15

Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? Empty
PostSubject: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyTue Apr 15, 2008 12:23 pm

Hi all. If an author decides to self-publish, therefore self-markets their works, do agents frown on such a thing? If so, why?
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Karina Kantas
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Karina Kantas

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Location : Corfu Greece

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed Apr 16, 2008 1:44 am

Unfortunately, yes, they do. But as SP is growing and displaying excellent talent, some publisher and agents encourage SP authors to submit.

If you're worried about it. Just don't mention that you've SP, in your query letter. Mention about your book if it's relevant to the next book you're submitting.

I'm guessing the reason they frown is that most SP authors don't go through the same channels as a mainstream agented author would; appraisal, editing. Most SP authors can't afford it. Just because a book hasn't been professionally edited doesn't mean it's badly written.
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Jeffrey J. Mariotte
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Apr 20, 2008 9:31 am

The main reason agents aren't interested in self-published authors is that agents are interested in making a living. They make that living by selling their clients' books to professional publishers. Self-published authors, by definition, are paying to have their books published, so there's no percentage for the agent to collect.

Which doesn't mean that an author can't make the switch from self to traditional publishing, with a good manuscript and a willingness to go the traditional route. In that case (unless the author's self-published books have sold tons of copies and developed a real fan base) any self-published books in the author's past are either meaningless to the agent, or potentially a hindrance. The big book chains, for instance, can easily look up how an author's last book did in their stores. If John Smith's three self-published books were carried by Barnes & Noble, but sold 150 copies chain-wide, then that chain isn't going to be terribly interested in John Smith's next book, and may decline to carry it even if it's offered by HarperCollins. And if the agent can't sell it to one of the majors because the chains have no interest, then the agent doesn't stand a good chance of earning his or her percentage.

It's mostly about the numbers, and historically, with a few exceptions, self-published books don't have the numbers to excite agents. A really great new manuscript, though, can overcome a lackluster sales record.

Jeff
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michelleakamimi



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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 07, 2008 9:45 am

Both of these replies have been very helpful and I appreciate it. Thanks!
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lin
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lin

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 07, 2008 11:49 am

Obviously you aren't going to get an agent interested in a book you've already published unless sales are spectacular.

But the real question here is this one: all else being equal, would an agent be more interested in somebody who has undertaken to understand the business and push their own promotion than somebody with no previous publication at all?

(One of those questions that sort of forces the answer)
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michelleakamimi



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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 07, 2008 12:28 pm

Good point.
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donaldjamesparker

donaldjamesparker

Number of posts : 11
Registration date : 2008-03-29
Age : 69
Location : Puyallup, Washington USA

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 07, 2008 7:55 pm

One of the things an author has to do is market himself. With a selfpub book out, he/she's already blazed a trail. I've a couple of thousands contacts and maybe friendships in the writing world in the year since my first POD came out.
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyMon May 12, 2008 9:18 am

Every once in a while, I see statistics that remind us that the sales average for POD books in less than 100 per book.

If an agent finds you all over the Internet promoting your book, but you haven't sold many copies, that seems worse to me than no publication at all. The book either wasn't any good or the author wasn't any good at promotion.

Malcolm
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lin
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lin

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyMon May 12, 2008 12:57 pm

So he'd rather take a chance on somebody fresh off the turnip truck?
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 14, 2008 8:51 am

If there really is a turnip truck, there's got to be a story there.

Here's an agent's post about this subject (POD not turnips) from last year. It sounds reasonable and isn't all bad news:

http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2007/08/self-publishing-and-your-writing-career.html
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 14, 2008 9:47 am

Two interesting points Malcolm. One from Nathan:

It's difficult, these authors work harder than you would believe...

and the other from a comment by Jenny:

But one of the most daunting things I learned in my years in RWA, was that to have a career as a novelist you have to be able to write at least one novel a year, and two is better. If writing at that pace isn't your idea of fun, well, you probably don't want to be a professional novelist.

Everyone here knows by now that I'm a strong believer in hard work, whether it's writing a novel, publishing a novel or marketing a novel.

The thing about the novel a year or, better still, two novels a year is that agents seem to be pretty good at detecting who would be able to be that productive and who wouldn't. I have long thought that submissions are often rejected because the agent/publisher suspects that the work has taken many years to write and a second novel would take just as long.

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lin
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lin

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyWed May 14, 2008 2:15 pm

The thing about the novel a year or, better still, two novels a year is that agents seem to be pretty good at detecting who would be able to be that productive and who wouldn't.

????? How would they detect that?
I find that agents tend to profess profound disinterest in more than one book at the time, unless they're at the point of signing you.
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Shelagh
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Shelagh

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyThu May 15, 2008 1:37 am

Another agent's take on self-published authors:

http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/

_________________
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyThu May 15, 2008 9:23 am

A novel a year?

Yes, that might be one way to do it. Yet, I notice that many of the top authors I read don't do that. Rowling didn't. Conroy didn't. Neither did Gabaldon.

I'm glad some people take longer, for that's the traditional route, letting something mature for 2-3 years or even ten. :-)

Malcolm
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Jeffrey J. Mariotte
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptyFri May 16, 2008 12:46 pm

One common mistake that writers--especially those of us in our later years--tend to do is to tell agents in their query letters that "I've spent 10 years (or whatever) working on this book."

Agents would rather know that you can do it in a year or 6 months, so that you'll be a steady source of income for them. Unless, of course, your 10-year project is so brilliant that it will continue to bring in royalties for decades to come. But in a business where most books have a relatively short shelf-life, agents want to sign productive writers who will keep earning.

Jeff
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySat May 17, 2008 1:38 pm

That's true, of course, Jeff. Ironically, most of the books that become part of the so-called canon are not produced by authors who churn out books at the rate of two per year.

That said, one does want the agent to see that there's a plan, more books on the drawing board...

Malcolm

Visit my Writer's Notebook blog at: http://jockstewart.typepad.com/writers_notebook/
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Jerry Watson

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Location : Bellingham, Washington

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySat Feb 28, 2009 11:21 am

Speaking of shelf life. . . I'm amazed at how many famous and prolific authors' works occupy the shelves at the local thrift shops and Goodwill. Some recent editions, even, like John Grisham's works, King's, and others.
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lin
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lin

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySat Feb 28, 2009 12:32 pm

That's what you tend to find overstocked in used venues: best sellers. They blow out ajillion of them, people read em and get rid of em.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySat Feb 28, 2009 1:09 pm

When I lived in northern MN, we didn't have a large bookstore, so I loved to shop for books at Walmart & Target, as their selections were huge. Bestselling authors had shelf space as well as new authors in all genres. I could almost take a picnic lunch and spend the day browsing.

Now, all I find are the so-called bestselling authors, so if you've read them or don't care for them, you're out of luck. Plenty of copies if you want another Grisham or a rerelease of another bestsellng author.

But in reply to Michelle's question, my agent told me it would be better if we didn't mention my former publisher. So when we were 'talking' to the publisher, no mention was made of my first book.
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Jenny
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 01, 2009 2:50 am

This is agent Colleen Lindsay's take on what you should or should not include in a query letter regarding your publishing credits.

http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/11/why-i-may-have-rejected-your-query.html
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Shelagh
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 01, 2009 3:09 am

Thanks Jenny! I followed your link and read the submission guidelines, including a link to how to write the query letter:

http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

_________________
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Dick Stodghill
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 01, 2009 6:16 am

A thousand letters do not equal one face-to-face meeting with an agent.
If you hide something in your past, a good agent will quickly discover it and wonder why you weren't upfront about it.
Over the past 30 years I've met quite a few of them at various conventions, seminars and during drinking sessions. One thing that seems to turn all of them off is knocking another agent, a publisher, another writer or anyone else. That means you would turn around and knock them in the future.
If you have something they believe they can sell, and if they think you will be productive in the future, most agents don't care if you have two heads or murdered your grandmother. They're business people so what matters most is the bottom line. Money is the language the good ones all understand.
I have heard agents who specialize in mysteries complain about people who don't write them asking to be represented.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 01, 2009 6:55 am

I've met quite a few of them as well, Dick, only not in drinking sessions - I'll leave that to you. But in the conferences I've attended, where I've met agents and acquiring editors for the major publishers, most of them agree on what they consider a writing credit. Self-pubbed books and books with what they consider vanity presses are not among them, unless that book happened to have sold a certain number of copies.

One thing to remember is that unless you're already an established writer in the industry, agents are more interested in what you have to ofter Now. What is your book about? Is it well-written? Most of all, can they sell it?

An agent, James Cypher, gave me permission to include his suggestions on my website:

http://www.brendahill.com/todaysfictionmarket.htm

He has a lot of information on his website:

http://pages.prodigy.net/jimcypher/
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Ray_Osbo
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PostSubject: Genre differences, mine is Nonfiction History   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 08, 2009 8:40 am

The more I read messages from author's the more I appreciate the differences
between genre's. It really is imperative if one is seeking advice to find other
author's who have similar genres. Mine is Nonfiction history for popular
reading. Anybody else here with that?
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Carol Troestler
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Carol Troestler

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PostSubject: Re: Do Agents frown on Self-published authors?   Do Agents frown on Self-published authors? EmptySun Mar 08, 2009 8:57 am

Ray,

I have a book of nonfiction history based on the Cuban Missile Crisis. I am working on finding a publisher for this book.

I also have two historical novels I wrote based on family and real historical events, mostly during the Civil War.

Nonfiction history has its own characteristics, especially when querying publishers. They usually want far more than a query letter. The last one wanted photos, sample chapter, sentence outline, and bibliography. It always takes a lot of time to put everything together.

What have you written?

Carol
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