The Knight Agency has started up a very exciting program to facilitate e-book publication for those of our authors who want to take advantage. To be clear, we’re NOT becoming a digital publisher. We’re not taking a publisher’s cut or submissions or doing anything but working collaboratively with our authors who want to take advantage of the program. We’re doing all the legwork in getting books scanned, putting together a database of copyeditors and arranging for cover art, ISBNs, new cover copy, etc., much of it at the agency’s expense and for only the agency’s regular commission. And ONLY for our authors.
We are NOT giving up on traditional publishing. Rather, this program is for backlist which is no longer available or had never been digitized to begin with or for projects that have not found a home with publishing houses but which the authors and agents agree should absolutely be in the hands of readers who will adore them as much as we do. We’re not telling anyone they have to go through us. Rather, we’re providing a whole lot of really exciting incentives, like marketing and promotion.
Our first titles will launch in September*. We’ve got an incredible line-up, with backlist from bestsellers like Stephanie Rowe, Rachel Caine, writing as Roxanne Conrad*, Cecil Murphy, Susan Sizemore, Christie Golden and others. You’ll definitely be hearing more about this as the launch approaches. (*New note 9/21/11: the launch has been pushed back to mid-October and Roxanne Conrad’s works will be in the third wave of titles, coming out in 2012, rather than the first to allow more time for covers and other logistics.)
7 thoughts on “The Real Scoop on our New Program”
This is AWESOME!
Paraphrasing what Deidre Knight said on Twitter, agencies that are setting up a publishing arm are not taking their standard commissions. They are working off of a different business model entirely. They are acquiring rights for splits, sometimes/often for as much as 50/50. Agents who are assisting their current clients in further utilizing their backlist and “in the closet” works and doing the legwork as well as absorbing upfront costs on their behalf, and then taking a standard 15% agency commission are NOT “publishers”. They are simply offering one more service to their clients who may be interested in pursuing this avenue. The distinction between an added service, and a separate venture is incredibly important.
We’ve been incredibly transparent with our clients on our intents with this program and our reasons for doing so. We’ve also put hundreds of man hours into learning what readers want in the eBook market so we can help our clients put together the best professional product for their devoted readers, and assist them in marketing it to ensure maximum findability and exposure. We’ve taken this responsibility on because our clients have consistently asked us over the last 12 months how they can utilize the new market available to them. It should be expected that they wanted our help and career guidance in this area, just as they depend on us for guidance in all other arenas of their career. Its our job as agents, to stay on top of market changes and assist and advise on new opportunities as they arise, just as we continue to do in the more traditional publishing outlets. At the Knight Agency we’ve always prided ourselves on total career management and growth, and this is just one more exciting piece to that puzzle.
I just want to comment and say there’s one other important distinction between agenting services and publishing. If, in the middle of getting up a self-published project, an agent and a client cannot agree for whatever reason, the relationship can be dissolved, and the two can go their own separate ways, perhaps annoyed with each other.
Now think about what happens if you’ve signed a publishing contract with your agent, and you hit irreconcilable differences. No matter how bad those differences are, you’ve already signed over the exclusive right to distribute to someone who retains that right, even if you hate what they’re doing. The agent can always say, “I’ll put agenting first,” but what if your split is over something unrelated to the publishing contract, and your client has fired you?
The big difference is if you’ve granted someone else rights (publishing) or if they are doing it on your behalf (providing services).
I’m also interested in hearing what the Knight Agency has chosen for the term of the agreement, once the material has gone live, or if that’s something the author decides.
Courtney, we’re working very collaboratively with the authors on this, sending those involved info on the cover artists, for example, so that they can view portfolios and decide who they’d like to work with. Our goal is for everyone to be happy with the end result. Also, we’re currently talking about a two-year term, which can, of course, continue if everyone is happy about the way things are going.
I’m with the Knight Agency, and I’m one of the launch authors for their digital program. Some people may think it doesn’t make sense to have an agency self-pub when you can do it yourself, but I’m not one of them. The way I see it, can I self-pub my work myself? Sure, I can. If I work with the Knight Agency, will they do it so much better that it increases my sales more than the 15% that they would take? You bet they will. See, here’s the thing. The Knight Agency won’t just put it up there. They will have the economies of scale to negotiate with the publishers/etailers for page placement, for links to other books (if you like JR Ward, you might like Stephanie Rowe), for special promos or price shifts that get your book up front with readers. Right now, indie authors are saying “Wow! That was huge that Amazon picked my book to do a free eRead. I don’t know how they picked me, but it was awesome for my sales!” When you have an agent working for you, they can actually negotiate for that kind of thing, instead of simply crossing their fingers and making a wish. In fact, the more people there are who self-pub, the more impt my agent will be. If there are a million $0.99 books out there, how is the reader going to find you? Product placement for one, and that’s what the Knight Agency has been doing for decades: negotiating for this kind of stuff from the people who put your book in front of readers.
It’s really good to hear your thoughts, Lucienne! It’s also really interesting how publishing options have changed. I bet your clients are happy to hear this news.