I received a number of comments about my last blog and the matter of my wearing two hats in the work I do as a Literary Agent and Book Publishing Consultant. Thanks to those who like how I conduct my work.....and sorry to those who have some negative comments.
The fact is that the book publishers in North America are going through more than simply a technical revolution with the introduction of the ebook. They are also bleeding (not hemmoraging) because their customers, the bookstores and stores that sell books, are in many cases gushing blood, cutting back dramtically on the space devoted to displaying books, or closing up shop ...or declaring bankruptcy. It it not a pretty picture....with the domino effect on lower sales to retailers, high returns, and marginal profits..if at all for these publishers.
Publishers are however reacting positively with increased ebook publishing. But the sales are a long way off from the downtrun in printed book sales. It will be awhile yet...likely at least five years. And not all categories and/or authors books sell well through the internet as an ebook.
The affect on authors? Well book publishers are being very, very conservative in acquiring new books by new authors. They are being further conservative in the advances offered against future royalties ...some as much as 30% less. This does not mean deals cannot be done...it does mean however that we agents need to recognize the current economic reality in representing the interests of our authors and ensuring that submissions are more complete than ever and deals are struck with more creativity so authors and book publishers can benefit mutually. In some cases I have completed deals successfuly because the author was able and willing to commit to a pre-purchase of a sufficient quantity of the new book so the publishers risk has been lessened and they are willing to still offer a fair royalty advance. Not all publishers think this way. Those that do are able to acquire and sell good books because the "numbers" say they can sell less books at retail and still be ok.
Those authors who do make the purchase commitment almost always need help with building a strategy and specific tactics to market/sell the book they wind up purchasing from the publisher. This is where my "second hat" comes in consulting with the author in areas of marketing they know nothing about...but have the money to invest in what is needed to move the books they bought out of the basement or garage and into the hands of the reader. Frankly it is a win-win partnership for the publisher, the author and the consultant.