After announcing on its blog Tuesday that it would be working its clients through the digital self-publishing process, literary agency Dystel & Goderich has had publishing insiders buzzing. What did the announcement mean? How would the agency take commissions from authors who are self-publishing? Would the agency become a publisher itself?
In its initial announcement, the agency said that, after recognizing the burgeoning possibilities of e-publishing, it would work with "authors who want to have their work available once the physical edition has gone out of print and the rights have reverted, to those whose books we believe in and feel passionately about but couldn’t sell." Jane Dystel, one of DGLM's founding partners, told PW that the agency's new initiative is "an evolving situation" and that it is open to both "established and new clients."
When asked how the agency will be approaching new clients who might self-publish, Dystel said the plan is "to continue to represent projects and authors that we feel we can have a long-term relationship with." She added that the agency will "try to place new authors with traditional publishers first (in consultation with them, of course) as we have always done."
Economically, how things will break down when a client does not get a traditional deal but self-publishes, remains somewhat unclear. Since an agent has, traditionally, been seen as the main conduit to a traditional book deal, there are questions about what, exactly, an agent will be providing an author who self-published. To that, Dystel said that the agency has always "provided services for our clients that have gone far beyond selling their books to a traditional publisher," and noted that, among other things, the agency ensures their authors get paid, advise them on creative dilemmas and sell their subsidiary rights.