Today I was spoiled for choice concerning topics to write about.
Hugh Howey broke the news about his terrific deal with Simon & Schuster.
Also Dean Wesley Smith has been having some interesting discussions over on his blog about agents and--since Hugh's terrific deal was landed with the help of his agent--I thought, in an odd sort of way, the two stories go together.
Hugh Howey's Awesome Deal With Simon & Schuster
Hugh Howey, bestselling author of Wool, has landed a breathtakingly good deal with Simon & Schuster. The bones of the deal are as follows:
- Hugh Howey retains control over ebook pricing and will continue to sell ebooks online.
- Simon & Schuster publishes paper copies of Wool--both hardback and paperback--and (of course) distributes them to traditional brick and mortar bookstores.
Congratulations Hugh Howey!
Here is what Hugh wrote about it:
In March, Simon and Schuster is releasing a print edition of WOOL here in the United States, and I couldn’t be more excited. This deal is all about the new publishing paradigm. There are no clauses limiting what I can write and how quickly I can release. I keep control over the ebooks, which means the prices will stay where they are. ... You’ll finally get a print edition with the utmost in quality and design.Simon and Schuster is also doing a simultaneous paperback and hardback release. This is just a whole bunch of firsts! I'd encourage you to read Hugh Howey's post in full: Luddites, Rejoice!
Hugh Howey also made a 13 minute video in which he talks more in depth about his publishing journey and how this deal came about. Fascinating and highly recommended.
Agents And The Independent Author
One of the things Hugh Howey mentions in his video (Announcement Time!) is the role his agent, Kristen Nelson, played in landing his deal with Simon & Schuster. And not only that deal, his movie deal with Ridley Scott as well. Hugh Howey said that these deals would never have happened without his agent's help (this is my own transcription):
[W]e're talking about a book that's only been out since January and in that time we've had some incredible things happen.It seems like Hugh Howey feels that Kristen Nelson more than earned her commission!
One of the first of which was hearing from Kristen Nelson in the middle of the night who ... I'd already told some agents I didn't think it made sense to go with an agent, I was happy doing things the way that I was and she convinced me, "Hey, let's explore foreign rights, let's amp up the Hollywood push," both of which have been ... I mean, Ridley Scott and 20 countries later she's proven herself, everything she said has come true.
Let's think about that for a minute.
Dean Wesley Smith has published two (excellent!) articles in a row about agents (See: A Side Note About Agents and One More Agent Question). Dean and a number of authors have been vocal in their opinions that, these days, authors do not need agents.
In fact, Dean feels that, for most authors, agents hurt your writing career more than they help it. Dean writes:
Agents are no longer needed in this new world of publishing for most writers.
I don't disagree with Dean. How could I? He, Kris Rusch, Laura Resnick and a number of other full-time writers have horror story after horror story involving their former agents. Everything from fiscal mismanagement (author's money not remitted to him, incorrect amount of money remitted, etc.) to neglecting to pass along offers (offers from publishers, movie people, and so on) to the author.
On the other hand, there are some authors who praise their agents. Hugo award winner, Jim C. Hines for instance. Jim has stated publicly that he is happy with his agent. He writes:
[T]here seems to be an assumption ... that I’m blindly sticking with a system that’s screwing me over, that I haven’t seriously considered or researched other publishing options, and so on. I would like to reassure people that this is not the case. I read my contracts, both U.S. and foreign. I review my royalty checks and statements, and I ask my agent about anything that looks odd. (Often he beats me too it, sending me royalty spreadsheets with a note that he thinks some numbers look off, and he’s following up with the publisher.) (In Which Others Worry About the State of my Career)
Does An Indie Author Need An Agent?
It could be that while many, perhaps even most, agents are a hinderance to a writer's career, this is not always the case.
It seems that for certain things: offering one's book for auction, pursuing a movie deal, and so on, having an agent can make sense financially.
Could Hugh Howey have done, himself, everything his agent did for him? Possibly. But chances are he wouldn't have had as much time to write. And chances are he wouldn't have gotten the movie contract or the publishing contract with Simon & Schuster, as quickly.
Also, let's face it, some writers loath the business side of writing. If they could find an agent who was both skilled and honest they would gladly pay them to handle rustling up movie deals and the like.
Perhaps in the beginning, before the writer has hit it big, they don't need an agent. But, afterward, when things like movie rights and deals with large US publishers are being discussed, then having a savvy agent can be an asset.
But, still, the writer is left with the daunting task of finding an agent both skilled and honest.
Other articles you might like:- Turning Off Your Inner Editor
- Guy Kawasaki Writes The Definitive Book On Self Publishing: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur: How To Publish A Book
- The Dark Art of Critiquing, Part 2: Formulating A Critique
Photo credit: "My little ladybird" by jonespointfilm under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.