Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ad-Based Publishing--The Debate Goes On

Below is Scott’s reply to Robert, with Robert’s reply to Scott’s reply to his reply just after each point of contention or agreement. We apologize for the length, but everyone seems to prefer it posted this way. Sharene was going to contribute her input as well, but that will have to wait because she’s doing agency business as we speak. Plus, it would have enlarged this post even more and it’s already very, very long. Plus, she’s a girl.

Here we go…

Scott: There will still be printed books in the future. After all, you can still buy LPs and even have current hits put onto LPs. You can also buy buggy whips. However, once ebooks come into their own, having a printed version of an ebook will be viewed as a luxury and an oddity. It is all about economics. If there isn't enough demand, there won't be a supply. Additionally, some books will only come out in ebook format and the author and their agent won't even bother considering coming out with a printed version.

Robert: Scott and I agree on many things and we agree about e-books possibly coming into their own. In fact, I wrote a blog post about print publishing possibly being replaced by internet content of which e-books are a part, although I didn’t specifically mention them . Pundits have been predicting that e-publishing was going to replace conventional print publishing ever since there’s been an internet but so far it hasn’t happened. As an agent, I have to think about today and what’s happening right now. My clients expect that of me. They won’t sit around waiting for e-books to start paying enough in advances against royalties to make them worth considering. They like to being paid an advance against royalties and not many e-publishers do that, so until they do, most of my clients would rather stick with conventional print publishers.

Scott: As for Amazon stubbing their toe with ebooks, I've covered this before in Part Two.

Robert: I was referring to Jeff Bezos stubbing his toe when he chose to remove books that readers had paid for, then taking from their Kindle readers without notifying them he was going to do so. See: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/07/23/bezos-apologizes-for.html

Scott: As for major publishers surviving by somehow buying the electronic rights to ebooks, what? Ebook writers will be giving their ebooks away for free to get larger download numbers.

Robert: I agree that free sounds good. But disagree that free will always win the day. Many people have been burned by freebies, so they are liable to distrust things that are given away free. Behind FREE they perceive a gimmick. For example, nine out of ten computer users bitch about Microsoft’s operating system and have been complaining to high heaven since MS DOS (most of you probably don’t remember that). But there is a solution. It’s a completely free operating system called Ubuntu produced by Linux, see: http://www.linux.org/. The Linux operating system has been around for some time and because it’s FREE you’d think one would be on everyone’s machine. But not even 1% have changed over. Where Microsoft is a buggy, expensive and closed proprietary software system, meaning it’s copyrighted and users are blocked from decompiling the software and revising it, Ubuntu is open, meaning it’s not copyrighted and open to anyone who wants to improve it. However, Microsoft is still king. Why is that? I believe it's because free stuff makes people nervous. It’s perceived there’s something wrong with it, there’s some hidden charge or, in the case of free software, it's going to harm their machine. Isn't it human nature for folks to think that expensive is good and free is cheap crap. "If it's so good, then why are they be giving it away?" So the first thing that has to happen, in my opinion, for the free e-book system to work consistently is to somehow change the perception of FREE. There’s even a saying that you get what you pay for. By the way, giving away ebooks free isn’t a new idea, but there’s always been some gimmick tied to them. See: http://publishingtransformed.blogspot.com/2009/06/giving-it-away-when-free-e-book.

Scott: As for people being sick of advertising, like it or not, it is just part of life. It has been part of life of magazines for centuries. Been part of life on radio and TV for decades. Now if you want to talk about what people are really sick of, let us talk about the ever-increasing retail sticker prices of printed books.

Robert: I agree that books are expensive and the most expensive are hardcover books. We are by far the richest country in the world. Avid readers with money still buy hardcover books because they don't want ads in their reading material. I say this because of what's happened in television quite a while ago and more recently in radio. People who don't mind advertising view commercial television, which because must of it is hooked to cables is no longer free. The same with radio--commercials for some, but a vast number of listeners have switched to satellite radio, especially in their cars. I also envision packagers taking care the labor intensive parts of publishing in the near future and I see these packagers being based in India and China. If this vision is true, then packagers will hire writers and pay them on a work for hire basis. So we reach the first point of contention—will writers be willing to give up fat advances for work for hire contracts?

Scott: As for why ad agencies haven't done this already, you have to understand about the world of advertising. In the world of publishing, an average book sells 12,000 copies. That's just too small peanuts for most advertisers to consider. And unlike magazines, there's no certainty that average will be reached by a book. On top of this, inserting a full-color print ad into a printed book is expensive. However...

Robert: I disagree. I understand quite a bit about marketing books as I have to help my clients do that. I also understand that marketing departments run large publishing houses, from the CEOs, on down. So when you speak about the world of publishing, you've stepped into my world. In this world, you have to include Random House, Penguin Putnam, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins and Hachette (formally Warner). This is big publishing. When we speak of publishing in general, we are talking about 300,000 PRINTED titles produced a year—no small potatoes here when looking at some single titles that sell over a million copies their first print run. Most mega bookstores stock 80,000 titles on their shelves. As a side note, part of the economic problems encountered by most publishers these days is because mega-bookstores strip shelves every three months of books that didn’t sell and return them to publishers for a 100% refund. Bookstores increase their bottom line at publisher’s expense—not a good system. Just thought I’d throw that tidbit in. The problem as I see it that most publishers don’t see e-books as a threat. They don't see them producing the kinds of numbers mentioned above, that of millions of downloads--not in the near future at least. Maybe in twenty years or so. Ad agencies are well aware of these numbers. These numbers and the huge profits generated by publishing came to the notice of those European corporations who acquired publishers in the 1980s so you have to know that ad agencies have been aware of these huge profits for years. Wouldn’t this be an advertiser’s dream come true? How come they haven’t been taken advantage of it ? If this hasn’t been done in the past, then there must be a reason. Point of contention two--why haven't ad agencies seen the profit potential of ad based books?

Scott: With ebooks, things change and become more attractive for advertisers. Giving away the ebook for free will greatly increase its download numbers. In fact, charging people for ebooks will reduce how many see an advertiser's ad. That happens and advertisers will pay you less for the ads in your book. It is then to your profit advantage to give away your book so your download numbers are as large as possible so advertisers will pay you as much as possible. This is not possible with printed books but totally possibly with ebooks.

Robert: Before this can happen, you’ve got to convince some superstar writers like Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Danielle Steele, etc., to start writing e-books that are going to be given away. When authors of this caliber are talked into doing this, publishers will see the threat and I’ll be convinced this will work. Until then, I don’t see enough of a draw to get the volume that will convince large advertisers this is going threaten their existance. Nothing said so far convinces me this will work—nothing yet. If I can’t be convinced, how can big companies be talked into puting advertising dollars into free ad-based books?

Scott: Secondly, putting in a full-color ad in a printed book is expensive. It isn't in an ebook. There is no printing cost with an ebook.

Robert: I agree that full color e-books might be something to consider. This was thought to be a great idea for children’s picture books because it would cut out the huge printing costs. However, the idea didn’t fly because parents, if they wanted a hard copy, still had to print them and the expense was just trickled down to them. So this idea never took off. As far as color ads, the same problem exists as to how to get readers to want free e-books in the first place. As stated in the paragraph above, the problem of getting quality authors to buy into this is where this whole theory falls apart. Solve that and this might have merit. Writers, writers who are good enough to demand good advances from standard print publishing houses, don’t have to resort to ad-based, free e-books to make a buck. They do okay the old fashioned way. Convince good authors first to give up their print publishing contracts in lieu of a possible work for hire one and you’ve made some headway. Or convince them that they aren’t going to get paid until you sell some advertising and then they might not get paid until you get enough of their books out there somewhere down the road so that advertisers will pay for content advertising. In the meantime, when you put content ads in books, the author has to be very careful as to how trademarked and brand names are used. Using them wrong can land the author in court. There are some very good hints online as to how to do this, but I have to say that use of brand names and trademarks are highly restrictive. Also, small publishers can get away with no advances because they aren’t getting top-notch authors. See what the RWA has to say about publishers who don’t pay at least a $1000 advance. Also check with the Author’s Guild on that too.

Scott: And why this hasn't been done yet is simply this is all still new. The internet is new. Less than twenty years old. We are still getting used to it. We are still experimenting with it. We have yet to tap its full potential. Ebooks is the newest wrinkle of the internet. Ebooks haven't even take its baby steps yet. Read up on the history of print and you'll see it took a VERY long time for print to become a success. Cut ebooks some slack.

Robert: As I’ve said before, e-books supposedly were going to put print publishers out of business ten years ago. It hasn’t happened and I don’t see it happening in the near future. Yes, the book replaced the scroll…eventually. But it didn’t happen overnight. Actually, when you get right down to it, books, because they're advertisement free are cheap. Yes the price would come down if ads where placed in them, but would readers rebel? By the way, books used to be much more expensive than they are now. I fact less than a hundred years ago, you couldn't afford a book unless you were rich. So things have improved, not gotten worse. There’s a great story as to how New American Library (NAL) came into existence and put books into the hands of average people.

Scott: As for editorial review, advertisers will not put their ads into just anything that comes along. They'll be selective. None ... not even Microsoft ... has an unlimited advertising budget. They have to pick and choose where they spend their ad dollars. If you're a writer (or an agent representing a writer), your sales pitch to advertisers or the ad firms representing them will be partly about how great of a writer you are (or represent). And advertising executives won't just take your word for it. They'll read the book (or have one of their underlings do so), they'll want to see what critics say about the writer, what other successful writers say about the writer (and/or the book in question), and so forth. It will be just as hard ... if not harder ... for a new writer to get sponsorship as it is today to be published. On the bright side, writers can seek smaller sponsors initially and build up to the Coca-Colas, Exxon, and such of the world.

Robert: My question is what exactly is in this for the new writer, whose biggest complaint is that he or she can’t get in because the system is stacked against new writers? Isn’t this proposed system supposed to let everyone in? What’s being advocated above seems to me to just be a swap of one set of gate-keepers for another. I don’t see the big switch here. Also, I see large overhead in hiring acquisition editors, copy editors and a publisher to get the publishing part accomplished. Someone has to filter stuff that's going to turn those readers off who might tolerate ads in their books, even if they are free. I see the cost of this being a barrier to free e-books, so this is another problem area, as I see it anyway.

Just because you go to an e-book format doesn’t mean that you do away with publishers. The only difference between a print and e-book one is paper and binding. There’s still a cover artist involved. The books are set up so e-readers can read them and very expensive software is involved in the whole process. One big savings is that you do cut out distribution costs if books are given away, but there has to be some sort of storage and downloading capability no matter which way the author goes—another cost. So publishing wouldn’t be dead, it would just be transformed, so to speak. Whether you put ads in books and give them away, books still have to be published.

Scott: As for the "large" area that you (Robert) disagree with me being about the future role of agents, I don't have a clue what you're disagreeing with. I've read that paragraph over a few times and still don't see it.

Robert: You’re right, Scott. I did kind of go off on a wild tangent after I said that there was a large area of disagreement as to the future role of agents. What I was trying to express is that the role we now have is actually new and not the role literary agents originally played, which was being contract experts and going head to head with lawyers that publishers hired to write very complex contracts. I love contracts and I love negotiating them, but I also love books. I’m in awe of authors—the real ones—the ones who write books that are marketable. They are my heroes. So if books aren’t in the mix in the new agent’s role, I will no longer be a literary agent. I’m not interested in anything that doesn’t involve books and authors. I don’t want to interest ad companies to invest in putting their ads in books. I don’t like advertising and have no desire to be retrained to do this. I doubt that any agents would be interested in this new world. One big drawback that I see is that large literary agencies make large amounts of money. For instance, Stephenie Meyer’s agent made tons of money in the last few years. Could she, Stephenie’s agent, be convinced that your idea would pay her as much?

I also wouldn’t want to be part of trying to convince good authors that they should morph into ad-generated or work for hire instead of royalty-based paychecks. I’m a pretty good salesman, but I’m not that good. For another, I have to believe in the product that I’m selling before I can convince others to buy it, and, as you can see, I don’t believe strongly enough in this theory to buy into it, but I’m still open to being convinced. 

35 comments:

Heather Sharfeddin said...

eBooks have their place, but literature is a high art, not to be soiled by advertising. This isn't network television. We get what we pay for. eBooks may be less expensive, but so also are self-published books. Last I looked, the vast majority of those lack the quality in both skill and content to be worth the time. When eBooks reach the point of free, how will the art and craft stand up? Commercialism has its place, but look at Hollywood and how they crank out one remake or sequel after another without thought to story, poignancy, or importance in the name of making a buck. Is that what we want our literary tradition to become?

A Fellow Pen said...

And what does Scott get if he spends all this time convincing you, Robert? Representation? Will you be willing to help he see how viable his ideas are?

Scott says he's going to do this new approach with his novel. If you're not seriously going to consider representing him in his effort, I hope you have the decency to tell him so privately in an email so he doesn't delay his attempt in the mistaken belief you might help him do it.

Not that I think Scott is having this debate with you to get representation. I get the feeling that he's thinking out loud and seeking input on his ideas. That he is expecting you to object. That you're giving his ideas a baptism of fire. I could be wrong but that's my gut take on this.

As for Sharene being his agent (as others have suggested), I agree that Sharene does seem more receptive to Scott's ideas and change in principle, but I really doubt that she would represent him since I cannot find anywhere where that she is interested in representing science fiction.

Now I cannot wait to read Scott's reply. Great discussion here. I really hope we can keep this on an adult level all the way through.

bryngreenwood said...

I am still in the same place I was when I commented much earlier in this debate. Even if an advertising-based publication model develops, there will always be readers like me who despise advertising and are happy to pay more to avoid being assaulted by ads. Just as there are millions of TV viewers who happily pay more to watch TV shows without advertising.

Tracy said...

This is weird. It is as if you, Robert, didn't give Scott a chance to finish a sentence before jumping in with your own comments.

Hatchet Man said...

"literature is a high art, not to be soiled by advertising"??? What fantasyland do you live in, Heather? Have you even been to a bookstore within the last fifty years? Publishers don't view literature as high art. Not at all. They will print anything to turn a buck. ANYTHING!!! And authors are no better. If any of them come up with a good premise for a novel, they milk it dry and then slaughter the cow when it won't produce anymore milk.

And as for despising advertising in books, do you also despise it in magazines?

You two are snobs and disgust me.

Big Apple Dame (BAD) said...

When will Sharene post her thoughts?

Poor Man said...

Heather and Bryn, you are elitists. Let me guess. You think PBS is superior to broadcast networks, NPR is superior to anything else on radio, you drink wine with your meals (never beer), think the only real education comes from Ivy League universities, and Washington DC bureaucrats (with Ivy League degrees) are better at running our lives than we are.

Unlike Robert, Scott is trying to figure out a way to get the written word to the masses. Heather, Bryn, and Robert don't see anything wrong with the ever-increasing prices of books. Why should they? Money's not a problem for them. If those of us who actually have to make choices based on what we can afford cannot afford books, then that's too bad, isn't it?

Scott, I wish you ALL the luck in the world with what you're attempting to do. You succeed and you'll be a hero to the poor.

The Underground said...

What I see here is a man (Scott) trying to innovate an industry that is in bad need of help and, at the same time, trying to make the written word available to everyone. Can you say the word "noble"? I can and do when it comes to Scott.

If I was an agent, I would want to be part of Scott's experiment. But I don't see that here. Not from Robert at least. The verdict is still out on Sharene.

If I was an agent, I would asking Scott privately what I could do to help. Have you, Robert and/or Sharene, asked Scott this simplest of questions? There's probably many layers of help that you could give. From stuff that wouldn't cost you practically anything on up. I can think of several. Do I need to spell those out for you?

Robert and Sharene, please step back and think about what's going on here. This isn't a game. This isn't us vs. them. You should be trying to help Scott improve and polish his ideas, not attacking them.

But I don't see any of that. I see Scott hiking off on his own with you, Robert, throwing stones at him.

As for you, Sharene, we're all still waiting to hear from you. Do you help or throw stones?

The Word said...

Mr. Jensen, why are you wasting your brain power here. Hello? WMLA is not even a minor league lit agency. Little league at best. Backwaters little league as it isn't even in New York City. Has WMLA ever represented a New York Times bestseller? Not that I have ever heard. How about signed a deal with any film studio to do a movie adaptation of one of their author's novels? And I do mean any film studio. Independent ones. Hell, film students.

If WMLA was going to sign you up, they would have done so by now. Have they? Have they even asked you to send in the first three chapters of your science fiction novel for them to look over? Have they? For all you've done for their blog to date, the former is the least they could do. I would think they or you would have told us if either was the case. It is time to move on, Mr. Jensen. The grass is dead on this side of the fence. It is clear Robert isn't interested in your ideas and my bet is Sharene won't take you on if Robert isn't interested. Go and post to other agent blogs and see if you can interest one of them to sign you up. There are many agents out here. It is time you gave up on WMLA and started looking elsewhere.

If I'm in error, correct me. I hope I'm in error, but I'm sure I'm not.

A Bloody Brit said...

I find this discussion both interesting and humorous.

Interesting in the ideas that Mr. Jensen is presenting. Made even more interesting by the fact that he is going to actually do them.

Humorous by some of the objections I see here to Scott's ideas. For example, Heather Sharfeddin and bryngreenwood are hilarious. They remind me of pretentious art majors at universities.

As for Robert, I get the feeling that he simply isn't getting it. Go and read his arguments against Scott's ideas. Not just in this post but in the ones proceeding it. I have a few times over now. They're now verging on being almost circular and repetitive. I would absolutely hate this discussion to end in the lame "we'll have to agree to disagree" way so many discussions like these end. Scott is onto something here. I get the feeling that Sharene gets that. I don't know if Robert can get it. I really hope Sharene starts to speak up.

Suzy said...

Only three comments? Wow. This discussion has gone from hot to cold in the blink of an eye.

Sam Black said...

I think you should post Scott's replies separately and as a whole. THEN post your reply with you breaking his post apart so you can address his points one at at time. This new style doesn't give Scott's reply a chance to flow. It is like you're interrupting a speaker at a conference and not letting him make his case without you picking it apart as he presents it.

Other than the above, this is a terrific debate. Keep it up.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

A fellow Pen Pal,

Scott and I have been friends for quite some time. He is not a client because he doesn't require representation to major publishers. What he's writing about here doesn't require representation; in fact, if it were to come to fruition, in his own words, it would destroy publishing as we know it. Did you read any of this? I wonder.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Sam Black,

We tried that already and if you'll go back and read past posts and their comments, you'll see that many wanted in posted this way to see both sides of the issue on one page. We are just having a discussion here so it's hard to please everyone.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Suzy,

Warming up as we speak. It takes time to read and digest what's in a post of this length--don't you think?

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

The Word,

Yes, we are a small agency and yes we are not in NYC--so? Alexander Bell invented the telephone. I don't remember who invented the fax, and Al Gore says he invented the internet--whatever. I do know that information travels at the speed of light through most of these conduits and so as soon as I speak or send someone a message, for all practical purposes, I'm in NYC. No, I can't do lunch every other day, but I also don't have to pay thousands of dollars for office space. I'm about 2.5 hours from NYC on any given day, about the amount of time it takes to get from The Burroughs to Manhattan. I don't feel isolated; in fact, I feel pretty good about our location at the present time because it might just allow us to survive this current mess intact. Just because we don't represent someone on the NYT bestseller list doesn't mean that it won't happen the next six months. Any other questions?

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

The Underground,

Why don't you become an agent and ask Scott if you can represent him?

A Fan said...

I totally agree that it takes time to digest a post like this. And to do it right, you have to go back and read previous posts and then look in the comment sections of each of them for when Scott, Robert, or Sharene reply. I think all future posts should start off with links to all the posts in the order they appeared, say when we should also look into a post's comment section, and the first post in that link order should be Robert's "Demise of Print Publishing" post. Then after that linkage preface, they present their latest post.

As for WMLA being a backwater little league lit agency, so what? Seriously. So what? What does it matter that Scott posted here and not at one of the major lit agencies? Would one of the major lit agencies even let Scott's ideas appear on their blogs? Be thankful that a lit agency is even having this public discussion. Now why did Scott pick WMLA over all the other lit agency blogs? I haven't a clue. Only Scott can answer that. Maybe Robert or Sharene know.

All I do know is that this is a GREAT discussion. Keep it going!

Kitty said...

Robert and Sharene, keep a cool head. Don't snap back at posters here. Scott isn't. Let them have their say. You don't have to reply to attacks directed at you or anyone here. Snapping back will only prevent people from speaking their minds, can cause some posters to leave, and cause other posters to start a flame war. Chill. You're doing fine. Stay above the fray.

bryngreenwood said...

I swear, I'm almost flattered to be called both an "elitist" AND "pretentious." I'm much more accustomed to being called an ignorant redneck, but I suppose it's more convenient to assume I'm some Ivy League type. That said, at what point have advertisers become the kindly friends of poor people? When television broadcasters sell advertising, they're not selling time. The viewers are the commodity being sold. I don't like advertising, because I don't like being a commodity.

As for the masses, libraries have been doing just fine getting books into our hands. Just like PBS has been doing a pretty good job getting decent kids' programs to poor kids.

Poor Man said...

Bryngreenwood,

You think you're making a good comeback but, by your own words, you're just proving me correct. And it is sad that you don't understand how the marketplace works and how it has helped the poor. But then again, you think capitalism is an evil so how could you? Do you still have your Obama sticker on your car's bumper?

Do yourself a favor and don't reply. You'll only prove me more right if you do.

The Underground said...

Because I'm not an established lit agent and you are. DUH!

A Fellow Pen said...

WMLA,

Yes, if what Scott predicts happens, it will destroy publishing as you know it. In fact, if he's right, it will destroy publishing period. But what he has NOT said is that it will destroy agenting. Just the opposite. Read Scott's Part 3. It was ALL about how agenting can and will continue on. And he has said so elsewhere later in this discussion as well. Thus it is you who apparently hasn't been reading his posts and comments.

In the last paragraph of Part 3, he even talks about looking forward to the day that he can turn over pitching ad firms to an agent. Obviously, he sees a role for agents like you two. How about you, Robert and Sharene, find out what that role can be? What you can do. How agents like you can be part of the future he's predicting. It is clear that he has some ideas about this. Ask him. Publicly here in a post or privately.

And "The Underground" comment was a call-to-arms meant for you two. I'm disappointed you dismissed it in the way you did.

The Word said...

Sure, I got more questions. How about all those I asked in my second paragraph?

Helen said...

Am I the only one that feels it is odd asking Scott a question with this new format of give-and-take between Scott and Robert? I feel any question asked is one that Robert will feel a need to answer and not Scott. Look at who has been responding. Only Robert.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Helen,

If you address your question to Scott, Scott will answer your question, if he has time. If the question is an open one, then either of us might answer it. However, since I moderate and post comments, I'm more likely to answer open questions because I'm already here.

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Dear Fellow Pen Pal,

Do you want to see publishing as we know it destroyed? I ask this because I'm assuming you write and hope one day to be published. Please let me know if this is an incorrect assumption.

If do you write, do you consider yourself a part of the writing community and if you do, don't you think your fellow writers, those who are published would disagree with you vehemently about cheering on the destruction of their industry?

Forget about me, I'm only a small part of the whole process, but how about those who have published books coming out? Do you think they want them not to be published, their contracts rejected, a source of income cut off? What about readers, have you even considered them? I agree that some things about publishing need to be changed, but I don't advocate destroying an institution to fix it.

Other Lisa said...

Wow, there are some nasty commenters here. What's that about?

Okay, call me an elitist (which is pretty funny, but hey, go ahead). I too would prefer to read ad-free books. I mean, I don't mind a few ads in the back in paper editions promoting other offerings from the publisher, and I don't mind a teaser chapter for an upcoming work. That's just fine. But I can't even go to the beach without being involuntarily assaulted by advertising (planes with banners being the most offensive, IMO).

Scott's model may very well work, so I wouldn't rule it out (and it may be a model that could exist in parallel with more traditional publishing practices). But I think there are other structural issues with the publishing industry that could and should be tackled first before moving to something like this.

I also agree that although the system is far from perfect, the main problem with ePubs and self-pubs is the lack of a quality filter. There are good ones out there, but how do you find them?

Large publishing houses already base a great deal of their decision-making about what to publish on marketing considerations. Where is the quality filter in a totally ad-based model? Are the people who decide where to place their ads people who care about books and writing? How do they make their decisions?

Professionalism in all kinds of fields is much derided at times, but there's something to be said for it. I don't think it's overly elitist to want some aspect of the publishing decision-making process to be made by people who, you know, have some understanding of books and writing.

Forgive me if I've greatly oversimplified the positions here; I'm new to the debate.

A Fellow Pen said...

WMLA,

I do not see what Scott is advocating as being something that will be bad for writers or agents. I think you should really read what Scott is suggesting. He's not talking about not getting paid for writing (or agenting), but merely switching who pays.

Where has he said that writers and agents will not get paid for their work? I have just re-read all of his posts and replies in the comment sections of all posts in this discussion. Not once did I see where he said writers and agents won't get paid.

That you think he has been advocating this can explain why you are so resistant to what he's talking about. You're reading what's not there. Re-read his posts and comments.

As for myself, I am already published. I have quite a few titles to my name actually. Enough to do write full-time. But I see where publishing is presently heading and it isn't a bright future. My current agent is like you and not willing to explore alternatives. He will ride the current system to the ground and only change when he's forced to change. I do not think that is wise and thus why I'm reading the blogs of other agents. I believe in experimenting. Testing new things. Challenging old assumptions and finding out which are still valid, which are wrong, and which are decaying fast. Our industry has to change. I want to be part of that change. I think Scott's ideas are good ones and worth given a chance. I and/or Sharene can see that and assist him in his efforts.

Frank Speaking Frankly said...

Robert,

First, I wish you and Sharene would indicate which one of you is posting a comment or blog post. Like "Robert at Wylie Merrick Agency" and "Sharene at Wylie Merrick Agency". That way we know which of you is speaking and we can then properly address our replies to the right person. Also, we get an idea where each of you stands and not wonder about which of you are saying/believing what.

Second, I read your last reply to A Fellow Pen (the one that starts with "Do you want to...") and I think you're FAR off on what Scott is advocating. No wonder you're reacting the way you're reacting to him, but you're wrong about him and his plans. Time to get a cup of coffee and read this whole discussion from the start again.

Third, I completely understand why Scott isn't posting any comment in this comment section. I know I wouldn't given all what you guys are talking about. Not that I don't find your discussion very interesting. Disappointing now that I know you, Robert, are off-base on Scott's plans (see my second point above), but interesting in how other posters here are talking about Scott, his plans, and their desire for W-M to represent him.

Fourth, that last part above needs a spotlight on it. My read of most comments here is that the posters -- contrary to what you might think, Robert -- like W-M. If they didn't, why would they be here? My read is that they think you guys are great agents and they're hoping you'll help Scott. And you say Scott's a friend of yours so prove it. Help the dude out. That's what friends do for friends.

Fifth, how I think W-M can help Scott out is by representing his sci fi novel to ad firms. If Scott does it himself, he's just some Joe off the street. If W-M does the contacting, he'll be taken seriously. Now if you're lazy, over-worked, swamped, or just don't think you have the marketing ability, what I suggest is turn over the initial contact work to Scott. He's a marketer, right? I bet he can do the email inquiries in his sleep. Just let him use an email W-M email address. It shouldn't be under his name or that would defeat the purpose. I'd suggest making up a fake W-M "junior" agent name for him to use. Have him bcc all the email work he does to one or both of you so you can keep tabs on what he's doing (and possibly learn some good marketing lessons in the process) and then if some ad firm or big-time advertiser says they're interested, you can take it from there. Or let Scott continue to do the work as long as it continues by email until it needs a voice on the phone or face at a meeting whereupon one of you takes over and does the representation. How about that???

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

Okay Frankly speaking Frank,

From what I see and the fact that you're posting on this page, which was posted and the comments therein three days ago, apparently you haven't been keeping up with the posts. To enlighten, there is a post further ahead in which Robert identifies himself as ROBERT and Scott identifies himself as SCOTT.

Most of the comments here are posted by Robert and he needs no identification. If smoke rolls out of them, you immediately know they are Robert's comments. If they're posted by anyone else, they are identified as such. Now to the meat of your comment: Please go a couple of posts ahead of this one and you'll see that Robert addresses all of the concerns you have posted in your comment here. To find out what he has to say, you have to read his comments instead of just Scott's as this is a two-way debate. Also it is much easier to to answer your questions if you post them on the page where your questions originate. It doesn't matter that what you agree or disagree with is stated here. The debate has moved on, apparently without you. Join up, Big Guy, you might learn something. Robert

Wylie Merrick Literary said...

A Fellow Pen,

I'll tell you the same thing I said to Friendly Speaking Frank.

Please more ahead where more discussion is taking place. Your still dealing with comments that don't mean much unless you can link them back to what's actually begin debated. Move ahead and read both sides to this complex issue--then voice you opinion. Sounds like you are only hearing the song and not the melody. Listening to both makes music. What can I say except that your comments don't follow what's been expressed from BOTH sides of the issue. You're still back here when the discussion has moved two pages ahead. Please read both sides, man. and then comment, okay. Robert

Frank Speaking Frankly said...

Robert,

What are you talking about? This post here is the latest one. I don't call your hall monitor "Caution: No Mud" to be really part of this discussion at all. A comment on the discussion but not part of it. So this is the latest comment section on the latest relevant blog post.

Oh, and lose the attitude. When you use it and make inaccurate statements as you have, it makes you look even more the fool. Better yet, how about reading the blog post "Caution: No Mud".

Josh said...

I get the feeling that he simply isn't getting it. Go and read his arguments against Scott's ideas. Not just in this post but in the ones proceeding it. I have a few times over now. They're now verging on being almost circular and repetitive.

muskel

Book Publishers said...

Unlike Robert, Scott is trying to figure out a way to get the written word to the masses. Heather, Bryn, and Robert don't see anything wrong with the ever-increasing prices of books. Why should they? Money's not a problem for them. If those of us who actually have to make choices based on what we can afford cannot afford books, then that's too bad, isn't it?