Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Fully Integrated Literary Agent

Is she still a legitimate agent some asked when Emmanuelle Morgen left Wendy Sherman's agency to join a book packager. Would there be conflicts of interest for a literary agent becoming a component of another firm that was aligned with the publishing side of the business?

Stonesong was expanding when it took in Ms. Morgen, tacking on literary representation to an established packager. Naturally there was concern that someone seeking representation would be steered towards the custom publishing side of the office, suggesting that clients would not be getting the best possible deal because the literary agent would have some incentive to not heavily push the book to other publishers.

It is an ongoing dilemma in these days of digital publishing and authors doing it themselves and literary agents helping their author clients publish things that the major publishing houses don't want. The industry is changing due to technological advances that are coming up too fast for the normally slow-paced publishing world to adapt.

But what about the final phase of the process? After the literary agent has sold a manuscript and the publisher has created a book, who sells the book?

If you are Emmanuelle Morgen, you point to yourself.

Ms. Morgen is joining two other women in opening up a book shop in her native town of Hoboken, New Jersey. By going into the selling trade, she has integrated herself into every phase of publishing, doing just about everything but reading books aloud to the buyers.

Little City Books is slated to welcome book buyers at the beginning of May, to fill a niche that the owners see in the local market.

The shop will host author signings and readings, as you would expect, but wouldn't you love to be represented by an agent who could get you and your book into a brick-and-mortar store? Would that not be a huge bonus in signing with her?

Not only can she get you a publishing contract, but if things don't work out as planned, her agency could still get your book published. And then she can get you some publicity via an appearance at Little City Books.

Literary agents are getting into the publishing business with increasing frequency these days, if only to stay on top of the game. How long before some of them start investing in local book shops to provide a forum for their authors to get a little attention? Publicity budgets are tight in this bean-counting era, where art is pushed aside in a drive to reap the maximum profit from blockbuster bestsellers that may or may not be worthless drivel.

Today it is Stonesong extending its reach. Who will be the next literary agent to follow in the same track?

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