I’m continually intrigued by the digital self-publishing phenomenon. I’m unsure of its limits, and like most, am still unable to work out the effects it will have on the traditional publishing routes.
If you read the previous post, you’ll see I have a high regard for those in the position of Editor and find it hard to understand the reality, that their role is under threat. If the major Publishing Houses are in danger, then so too are their editors. Not only are these people the gate keepers to the mainstream publishing world and those priority bookshelves. They are invaluable advisors – Literary Guidance Councillers if you will. Surely a digital possibility can’t swipe that all away? And yet, with the dawn of Self-Publishing this seems to be the case. The author is master – and can guide his or her career however they so wish.
So if the Editor is negated what happens to the agent – are they now moot in the face of the independently powerful author? They shouldn’t be. Agent, Editor, Author – they shouldn’t be considered as mutually exclusive. Perhaps the role of agent needs to revert to an older model, one inhabited by the eponymous Gertrude Stein, for instance. The Agent and Editor will have to become one again. Self Publishing isn’t a defined model; as the digital age quickly evolves it is easy for certain codes of conduct to be ignored or dismissed. Contracts still have to be signed, money still has to be dealt with, authors can still be taken advantage of.
Great agents know what’s best for great authors but in this digital age, time is of the essence. Investing in an author who simply shows promise, but isn’t quite there yet, can be costly. If, however, the Editorial Agent were to collaborate with new (self-publishing) talents who could do with a little nurturing, in it’s purest sense, they may find that it will be both a financially and editorially rewarding process.
In turn, as the digital self publishing market becomes over-saturated (and I really think it will), the wisest authors will recognise that everyone could do with a helping hand. So rise up Neo-Agents! I am pretty certain there’s a Self Publishing wizzo out there looking for a partner in their writing business.