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Can Agent-Publishers Fairly Represent Authors?

Over the past year, literary agencies have been embracing digital publishing technologies and taking on the role of the publisher.

For example, literary agent Scott Waxman is publishing eBooks through Diversion Books and Dystel & Goderich will help clients navigate eBook and print-on-demand options. Movable Type Literary Group literary agent Jason Allen Ashlock argued in a recent editorial that this approach is not fair for the author. What do you think?

Here is more from Ashlock in Publishing Perspectives: “Though some agents come to representation from publishing houses, without significant internal reorganization, few agencies could publish efficiently: workflow restraints, small staffs, capital concerns, and the modest revenues generated by most digital properties will prevent most Agent-Publishers from adequately managing and effectively publishing more than a few titles.”

Beyond having smaller staffs than a traditional publishing house, Ashlock argues that these agencies also lack relationships with bookstores and lack production resources. Here is more from the piece: “Without relationships with major bookseller accounts, an Agent-Publisher’s marketing and discoverability efforts will be nominal at best, supported by inexpert efforts in new media marketing. Most Agent-Publishers will emphasize electronic editions, yet most agents lack technical proficiency to oversee workflow, conversion, design, quality control, distribution, accounting, title management.”

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