Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Writers Are Losing the Fight Again

Dean Wesley Smith has written another scathing post about "agents" trying to scam writers in "the new world of publishing." Please read it:

It's a terrific post, which it has in common with all Dean's posts, but this time he made one little mistake, so I had to write a comment on his blog.

But there are so many comments (as there should be, and you should read them all), you might miss mine, so I'm repeating it here.


I’ve been thinking about this whole scheme and decided it’s not a scam at all. It’s actually a terrific idea, with only one slight flaw.

All that it needs to make it a fair deal is to make it symmetrical. In particular, the agents have the right idea about expenses. This is a business, and it’s quite right that the partners in such a deal should be reimbursed for their expenses before any royalties are distributed.

So, I’m looking for an agent who will write a contract with me where s/he gets expenses and so do I. Let’s see, what are my expenses?

Well, there’s toner for my printer.

And several reams of paper.

And the printer itself.

And the computer.

And the software.

And my office, and its furnishings.

Let’s see. What have I forgotten. Oh yes, there’s about 20 years of schooling so I could learn how to write. Let’s figure conservatively about $50,000 per year. It’s probably a lot more, but we don’t want to take advantage of the poor agent, so we just have $50,000 times 20, which seems to come to $1,000,000 before I could write a word.

Now of course, my schooling was a long time ago, so if I hadn’t spent that money learning how to write, I could have put it into US Treasury bonds and easily earned, say, 6% on the average. And I finished my schooling roughly 50 years ago, which means the $1,000,000 would have doubled roughly 4 times since then, making $16,000,000 today.

Don’t you just love this calculating “expenses”? (That's an important part of the new agent scam contract.)

The way I figure is I’d happily sign with an agent who’d give me $16,000,000 up front to cover my expenses.

Or, since I’ve published roughly 100 books, I’d be willing to take $160,000 up front from any agent wanting to contract with me to handle a book of mine.

So, agents, if you’re reading this, better hurry and get your cash in hand and contact me before all those other agents beat you to the punch.

Yes, Dean, I’m sorry, but you’re just going to have to write a retraction saying what a good deal these new agent ideas are for writers. Agents, please insist on it.

Oh, and by the way, here are two of my most recent eBooks, which you can sample at and purchase them there, or at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.


Brian said...

I'm sure there's a Biblical reference about this, but it's late and I don't want to overwork my mind on it.

The world is infested with hustlers who are looking for a host on whom to parasite. Writers' agents are no different from the staff-augmentation agents who want a piece of the action you can deliver, but which they don't understand.

Your take on "expenses" is akin to my response to those "agents" who want exclusive rights to represent me. I say, "Sure put me on your payroll at say, $2,000 a week." Somehow the conversation drifts away.

Ellis Vidler said...

I'm afraid agents are losing their clout these days. Small presses are a better way in for new writers. I still like the idea of having my work vetted in some way, but I'm not opposed to indie publishing--as long as it's really ready to be published. The question is, how do you know?

Ellis Vidler said...

I'm permanently off the agent hunt. It takes a huge amount of time and energy and it's a depressing process. The odds of a big NY publisher wanting my books are not good, and I think that's where agents are invaluable. Now, whether I'm worth all that much--well, that's another story.