At the beginning of this year, we at The Knight Agency first talked about launching a program to assist our authors with digital publication. We’ve been researching with a vengeance since February about promotion, pricing, timing, visibility, content editing, covers, ISBNS, copyright—essentially all facets of publicity and distribution. We wanted to make sure that we’d be able to offer value-added services and a truly effective program right from the start.
To that end, we also sent out a digital survey earlier this year to find out which authors might be interested in TKA starting up such a program and what they’d want us to include. We took those comments to heart in creating the program that we’ve begun and incorporated the information we gathered in the letter which went out to authors. Somehow, a former client read into this that we were becoming a digital publisher, which is heartbreaking, since we created the program specifically to better advocate for our authors for works that weren’t currently in print. A potential service, not a requirement, for anyone interested in self-publishing. And one where we absorbed all costs except copy editing. The client misread our letter, never saw that we were absorbing full costs, and her recent post resulted.
However, we’re happy to be completely transparent on the program as we’ve been with our authors. Thus, I’m reposting the letter that went out below (and which is also being reposted on The Knight Agency website).
As you know, The Knight Agency has been working on a very exciting assisted self-publishing initiative that will aid authors in digitally republishing backlist titles, as well as allow clients to publish select front list titles which the author and agency will hand-pick together. For example, clients and agents may select novels, collections, or shorts that mainstream publishers may not consider remunerative enough for acquisition, or that the authors and agents believe would be better served by our sleek new system, which will allow us to monitor and act quickly in terms of pricing, promotion, bundling, etc.
We’ll be taking our standard agency commission of fifteen percent (15%), absorbing all costs except those associated with copy editing. As always in our work as your agents, our objective is to allow you as the author to focus on what you do best, which is writing the most wonderful books possible while we take the time-consuming and tedious business elements off your shoulders. For our fifteen percent commission, we will provide self-publishing assistance in the following areas:
●Content editing – the agents will act, as we regularly do, as editors, reading material and offering suggestions for revision.
●Line and copyeditor referrals – since none of us are copyeditors ourselves, we’re creating a database of quality freelance editors who can provide line and copyediting services.
●ISBN Number assignment – we’ll take care of the cost and work of getting an ISBN assigned to your work. Not all venues require an ISBN, but many do, and of course you’ll want the widest possible distribution for your work.
●Copyright registration – in the event that a book is backlisted, this may already be taken care of, but if a work predates automatic extension or is a new work that requires initial registration, we’ll have it covered and absorb the cost.
●Cover copy – although previously published titles will have cover copy, it will be proprietary to the publisher of that edition, and new copy will have to be written. We’ll handle writing or provide feedback on author-written copy.
●Cover design and consultation – we’re well aware that it takes good, professional quality covers to indicate high quality works, and can handle cover design in consultation with the author.
●File conversions to ePub and mobi – this is where a good deal of the work comes in, and it’s something we’re equipped to handle.
●Uploading files to major retailers – there are many places self-published authors can’t reach on their own, but we’re establishing relationships with e-tailers to make works widely available.
●Dynamic pricing – as mentioned above, we’ll have detailed pricing plans and will be able to move quickly to change pricing to build sales momentum.
●Metadata – the agents, in conjunction with the authors, will develop a list of key phrases to serve as tags to increase title visibility on various retailer sites and search engines.
●Search engine optimization — When promoting e-book titles, TKA will employ the latest techniques in SEO to maximize search rank visibility
●Marketing plan – one of the advantages to the assisted self-publishing program is that The Knight Agency will help promote the works in various formats, including a digital newsletter, a new digital showcase area on KnightAgency.net, on Twitter, in blogs, etc.
●Subsidiary rights – as with all titles we represent, we’ll work on the subrights for these books, including film, foreign, audio, etc. at our standard commission rates.
●Royalty tracking and payments—collecting and tracking revenue with a variety of digital outlets will require vigilance. If any problems arise, authors will have TKA as their advocates.
●Oversight of existing contracts and obligations—non-compete and option clause language will become even more important in existing print contracts. TKA will have full career oversight, making sure that authors are covered and clear to enter into digital self-pub arrangements.
●Down the road, TKA has long-range plans to help clients arrange for print publication of these titles via print-on-demand or other avenues.
We’re developing a simple agreement that states our terms in writing so that our responsibilities and yours are clear. We have our first wave of titles in the works and anticipate launching the first books in September. Please let us know if you have any material you’d like to discuss putting into this program and also, of course, if you have any questions.
All the Best,
Deidre, Judson, Pamela, Elaine, Nephele, Lucienne, Melissa, Jia and Jamie