By A.C. James
The select few that actually cared enough to read my old blog may remember my post linking a critical article David Gaughran wroteregarding Argo Navis and the agents that are offering this service to their clients. I sat at my computer screen reading his argument and nodding my head enthusiastically in agreement. The Internet is a vast world of digital information which is a good thing and bad thing. It makes it difficult for inexperienced writers to judge information as useful, factual, or as a scam. I like to play Devil’s advocate and test the quality of articles in order to engage and encourage individuals to take these articles for what they are—an opinion. My view on this is also very much a personal opinion that you can either take or leave for what it’s worth.
Clearly, Argo Navis offers writers services that have demonstrated subpar results and they have approached literary agencies to garner business. This is a wise business decision for Argo Navis as agents represent authors and are a business source for Argo Navis. They are attempting to give agents an alternative to offer their clients who might be tempted (and rightfully so) to self-publish, especially if their agent has been unable to sell their manuscript.
Argo Navis approached the agencies David Gaughran mentioned in this article and a source from one of the agencies states that the agency never signed a deal. Authors are not being funneled or milled into this program but are given a self-publishing alternative if their manuscript doesn’t sell. It’s simply a way for agents to dip into the growing self-publishing market and agents are in the business of making money, just like everyone else. It would be foolish for them not to take advantage of self-publishing.
However, agents work for the author—you are their client. Most contracts with literary agents offer an ‘out’ clause. Writers being offered the services of Argo Navis are not under any obligation to take the deal. Obviously, before an author signs any contract they need to read all the fine print and weigh the benefits carefully. Landing an agent doesn’t guarantee they will be able to sell your book. That’s a whole other ball game but if you’re not marketing savvy then finding a good agent might be the best way for you to play the game. Again, that’s something each and every author needs to decide for themselves.
If you self-publish it’s not to say you’ll never publish traditionally and vice versa. Just look at the flack Barry Eisler got after turning down a half-million-dollar deal with St. Martin’s Press, jumping to self-publishing, and then signing with Amazon. The cries of hypocrisy could be heard across the digital web of indie proponents. Eisler took a hybrid deal that met his goals. Plain and simple. There are lots of ways to cook an egg: scrambled, poached, over easy, boiled. Just like there are lots of ways to go about publishing and marketing your book.
Writers have to decide on their priorities and goals, along with the best way to reach them. I suspect that if Argo Navis doesn’t improve its performance then agencies such as Writer’s House and ICM Partners won’t continue to send them projects. It’s a business and if Argo Navis doesn’t make the cut, I don’t think they will continue to get business from these agencies. Writers should not be discouraged from seeking agent representation if that is the route they have decided best meets their current publishing goals.
I probably just irked writers with the ‘go indie or go home’ mindset but I believe everyone should be equally informed of all their choices. I offer that without having any agenda whatsoever other than offering my opinion. When I read articles like the one David Gaughran wrote and scroll down to read comments like this one: “…As a new author still on the fence concerning agents, this info gave me a chill, then made me mad. I’m mentioning this outrageous development in my next podcast episode…” I feel the need to weigh in. It’s not a crack at the person who thought this because like I said when I read his blog, he had me jumping on the ‘go indie or go home’ bandwagon too.
I waffle. I’m a waffler. I will not try to convince anyone otherwise. Publishing is a business. I write books. Learning the ins and outs of the ever changing world of publishing has been a process, one that I’m still learning. It’s a process that an agent, at least a good agent, can help with immensely.
However, in an age where authors choose agents to open doors they can’t open by themselves like with the big 6 publishers (or soon to become the big 5), it seems like bad business to offer authors self-publishing services at inflated costs and take a larger cut of the authors royalties, with the end result being poor service.
There are plenty of online tools and resources that writers can use to shorten the learning curve and figure out their publishing goals. What are my publishing goals? Stick around and find out. I plan on blogging at least once a week, perhaps more, over this year so fellow writers can see first-hand what works for me and what doesn’t. Readers can look forward to excerpts, giveaways, and much more. Not just my personal promotions and giveaways but I’ll be covering anything with romance and a bite. Or faerie dust. Or riding crops and handcuffs. My latest book actually contains all of the above.
Whatever I happen to be in the mood to blog about, I will bring to readers, uncensored and chock-full of opinion! I reserve the right to waffle frequently.