Dystel & Goderich Literary Management, an agency whose clients include Barack Obama, Joy Bauer and Jacqueline Carey, has announced a new slate of e-book services for its clients. But, it stresses, it is not trying to compete with publishers.
In an announcement on its website, the agency writes, “Over the past months and years we’ve come to the realization that e-publishing is yet another area in which we can be of service to our clients as literary agents” [emphasis theirs]. DGLM says “part of our job as agents in this new publishing milieu” is to make out-of-print books and “books we believe in and feel passionately about but couldn’t sell–oftentimes, after approaching 20 or more houses” available as print-on-demand and digital editions. The agency explains:
Right now, you’re thinking, oh, DGLM is going to be another of those agencies that has decided to become an e-publisher and charge clients whose books they can’t sell 50% of their income for the privilege of uploading their work. Some of you may be mumbling, “Uh…that’s a conflict of interest.” We get it and we understand how that can be the perception. However, we have no intention of becoming e-publishers…
Again, what we are going to do is to facilitate e-publishing for those of our clients who decide that they want to go this route, after consultation and strategizing about whether they should try traditional publishing first or perhaps simply set aside the current book and move on to the next. We will charge a 15% commission for our services in helping them project manage everything from choosing a cover artist to working with a copyeditor to uploading their work. We will continue to negotiate all agreements that may ensue as a result of e-publishing, try to place subsidiary rights where applicable, collect monies and review statements to make sure the author is being paid. In short, we will continue to be agents and do the myriad things that agents do.
Dystel & Goderich currently represents several self-published authors who focus primarily or exclusively on e-books, including a couple of those we mentioned in our post “The A-List Authors of Self-Publishing“: J. A. Konrath and John Locke.
Other literary agencies have rolled out services in recent months in which they take on the role of actual publishers. Last month, the UK-based literary agency Ed Victor Ltd. launched an e-book and print-on-demand publishing company called Bedford Square Books, publishing digital versions of its clients’ backlist titles.
And last year, Andrew Wylie of the Wylie Agency launched Odyssey Editions, which publishes Kindle editions of classic titles by Wylie Agency clients Saul Bellow, Jorge Luis Borges, William S. Burroughs, Louise Erdrich, Norman Mailer, Oliver Sacks, and Evelyn Waugh. Wylie ran into trouble with Random House, which refused to do business with the agency until it removed all Random House titles–including those by John Updike and Vladimir Nabokov–from Odyssey. (Wylie capitulated.)
By differentiating its services from those provided by a publisher, Dystel & Goderich clearly hopes to maintain goodwill with publishers and avoid similar conflicts.