When the publishers let editors go over the past two years, many of them became agents. Can all of those agents survive and prosper?
In the roundtable, Richard Curtis says, “There are too many agents for not enough business. What will happen? There are many scenarios, most of them grim. Here, with apologies to Darwin, are some: 1) The unfit agents will not survive; 2) Mergers and acquisitions among agents will thin the herd and a smaller number of super-agencies will evolve; 3) The old breed of agents will have to learn new skills to keep up; 4) The “commission basis” you refer to will transform into something closer to the Hollywood model, in which the talent pays managers to handle such business as public relations, website management and contract negotiation. Such an agent-manager might even be called upon by a client to help the client self-publish a book.”
I’ll have to admit that some of what they say makes me nervous for new authors. I worry that agents will try to make more of their money from authors’ (or would-be authors’) pocketbooks. And in fact, one agent in the roundtable says, “I’ve taken a lot of heat because I charge money to consult, train and develop [clients], like with our online training courses or private consulting. Of course, if an A-list author with a huge platform walks in our door, we don’t charge a dime.” [Isn’t that the back-asswards way things always work - the people with lots of money don’t pay, but the ones with little money do?]
I’m not sure that this roundtable - which consisted only of agents who are offering different services to clients, but at a price - is really representative of the way things are going. But it’s still a fascinating read.
Check it out for yourself here.