Ethics & the Literary Agent: What Rights Do Authors Have?

Ethics & the Literary Agent: What Rights Do Authors Have?

By definition, literary agents are writers’ representatives. They work for writers, negotiating offers from publishers until their client deems them acceptable. But in today’s complex agent-author relationship, many writers feel that they aren’t in the position to negotiate with their agent, partly because they don’t understand the publishing landscape as well as their agent does, but also because they are wary of coming across as difficult or demanding.

Although it’s becoming more common for writers to change agents several times during the course of their careers, most would prefer to stay with one agent. But are writers really in the position to speak up if they feel that an agent isn’t honoring their obligations, contractual or otherwise? If they do speak up, what are the consequences? I asked Mary C. Moore of Kimberley Cameron & Associates and DongWon Song of Morhaim Literary.

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How Do Literary Agents Approach Diversity?

How Do Literary Agents Approach Diversity?

Most people working in the book world would agree that, although strides have been made to increase diversity, there’s still a long road ahead. Some publishing companies have imprints devoted to multicultural books (HarperCollins’ Amistad, Simon & Schuster’s Salaam Reads, Kensington’s Dafina), and others make diversity their primary mission (Lee & Low). Nearly every established publisher, from the Big Five to independent presses, has launched some sort of initiative or committee or program dedicated to diversity.

But are these efforts enough? How do agents—generally considered the gatekeepers to publishing companies—approach this highly subjective issue? Are they in a position to increase diversity and equity in publishing? I asked Saba Sulaiman of Talcott Notch Literary Services and Eric Smith of P.S. Literary. 

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Today's Publishing Landscape: Two Generations of Literary Agents Speak Out

Today's Publishing Landscape: Two Generations of Literary Agents Speak Out

How do agenting styles vary within the same family? Are there generational differences when agents approach opportunities such as self- and hybrid publishing, which didn’t exist until a few years ago? Or in how they define their role, which in some ways is continually evolving, and in other ways hasn’t changed at all?

I asked legendary publishing veteran Robert Gottlieb, who founded Trident Media Group, and his son Mark Gottlieb, who is growing his list and has been groomed to work in his family’s business from the start. 

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Literary Agents and the Hybrid Author: A Conversation with Bob Mecoy and Kirstin Nelson

Literary Agents and the Hybrid Author: A Conversation with Bob Mecoy and Kirstin Nelson

How is it advantageous—financially or otherwise—for self-published authors to enlist the services of a literary agent, especially if they are making a sizable profit independently? Can authors successfully straddle the traditional and indie publishing worlds without creating any conflicts of interest?

At the Romance Writers of America (RWA) annual conference, I attended a panel called “Agents and the Self-Published/Hybrid Author: A Winning Combination” in which agent Bob Mecoy at Creative Book Services answered these and many related questions, and I followed up with him after the panel. I also sat down with agent Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency to ask her opinion about the indie author–literary agent partnership.

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Why Writing is a Full-Time Job—Especially if You Don't Have a Book Deal

Why Writing is a Full-Time Job—Especially if You Don't Have a Book Deal

When I meet new people and tell them that I work as a book editor, they usually ask me which publisher I work for. Sometimes I mention the publishers I used to work for—Little, Brown and Simon & Schuster—and they’re impressed, want to know what it was like, if I’ve met any famous authors. If I specify that I’m a freelance book editor, though, the reaction is a little different. People ask if I would consider getting another corporate job, or they try to set up a coffee date on a weekday morning; I guess they assume that I don’t earn a great deal of money and don’t have to go to the office, and they would be right.

What they don’t know, however, is how hard freelancing is. Sure, I set my own hours (a huge perk), and no, I don’t have to answer to a manager (a relief), but I am responsible for every aspect of my business...

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