Monday, January 30, 2012

The Rapidly Evolving Role of Agent

STATUS: What a way to start the day. Our ISP had a huge network outage that lasted for 45 minutes. No emails coming in or going out. It's a Monday!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? UPSIDE DOWN by Jack Johnson

Last Thursday I highlighted that the AAR has made some observations on the role of agents in ePublishing. If an agent is both an agent and ePublisher, well, that's pretty much a conflict of interest. If the agent has a biz interest stake in a client's decision, it rather eliminates our disinterested and objective viewpoint when giving guidance to a client.

But the digital landscape is shifting so rapidly and the agent's role is evolving so quickly, what is an agent to do if clients want assistance making backlist titles available in eFormat?

Well, I can tell you what NLA is doing. And because I believe in involving greater minds than my own, I used the best resource of all--our own clients. Working in partnership with them, we developed NLA's Digital Liaison Platform. My lawyer was also a big help but he simply formulated the agreement language once we had nailed down the model.

So what exactly are we doing?

We created a platform where NLA clients can self-publish their content within a supported environment. This is not a publishing house.

Before you say, "isn't this a matter of semantics?" The answer is no. In a publishing house model, the author grants her rights to the publisher and cedes control in that grant.
That is not what we are doing. In our model, our clients maintain full control of their titles. They are not granting them to us. They have full say on covers, editing, pricing, etc. The program is voluntary so if they want to participate on our DLP, they can, but they are also welcome to handle their backlist themselves.

We offer two different options. The first is full service where we hook the client up with cover artists, copyeditors, publicists, and we do the file conversion and make it available on all the electronic distribution venues. We use our individual leverage with all the venues to promote. The second is a distribution-only venue. In this option, the author handles all the details of self-pubbing and conversions themselves but simply want access to venues they can't reach on their own. Overdrive (main source for libraries) would be an example of a venue that individual authors can't reach but we can.

If they are on our full-service DLP, we ask them to commit to a two-year term of license [correction: it's a two year term of liaison, not license. My apologies for not proofreading more thoroughly. There is quite the difference between the two!] since we undergo all the expense and that would be rather uncool for a client to let us do that and then pull the title a month later.

Our agency commission split is the same as it's always been.

Indie Booksellers--we are also on Google eBookstore and Ingram but if you have your own dedicated eBookstore, feel free to contact us directly as we are happy to add your venue to our platform.

Our Launch Title:

SKATER BOY by Mari Mancusi $3.99
The first novel in the sweet, tween-oriented First Kiss Club series.

Apple - access through iTunes