A Bad Week For Agents

Even God got a day off on Sunday, so here’s some stuff for you guys to chew on, while I try and get a story finished.

A Bad Week For… Agents

Agents made a lot of headlines this week. First we had top UK agent Ed Victor announcing the launch of his publishing imprint. Fellow agent Peter Cox bravely called for him to be thrown out of the Association of Author’s Agents (quote in comments at end). 

Curtis Brown UK indicated they will follow Mr. Victor into publishing shortly. This is the agency that already has a $2500, 12 hour “creative writing” course where “stand-out students will be offered representation”. How many conflicts of interest can one agency have?

Some people have called agents becoming publishers a scam. An attorney laid out detailed steps that an agent/publisher should take to avoid conflicts of interest and also explained how to sue your agent if they are no longer acting in your interest. Who wants to bet how many agents will follow these steps?

Stephen Leather capped the week off by calling US agents a variety of salty names on Joe Konrath’s blog. The Blogger collapse on Friday deleted a lot of the saucier responses, but have a search on Twitter to see what some US agents thought of that.

Sample Sunday

If you don’t know what Sample Sunday is, put down that bacon sandwich and listen up. Every Sunday on Twitter a group of writers and readers tweet links to free excerpts.

These can be works-in-progress, upcoming releases, or current titles. Just follow the #SampleSunday hashtag to get a taste. If you want to particpate, read more details here.

It’s simple. You put up a blog post with an excerpt, then tweet the link (mine is here).

My tweet is:

#SampleSunday from @DavidGaughran you never know what’s waiting for you If You Go Into The Woods http://bit.ly/lhbD4b pls RT

If you want to spread it around, go crazy. If you are a writer, get involved, it’s a great free way to promote your work. Follow me at @DavidGaughran for some links.

If You Go Into The Woods

Nadine featured my book If You Go Into The Woods on her blog today, with a brief interview and an excerpt, so a big thank you to her and everyone at Indie Ebooks.

Heather at Doubleshot Reviews gave If You Go Into The Woods an excellent review. Not only that, she then posted it on Amazon and Goodreads then spread it all over Twitter.

Thank you to Nadine & Heather. You should check out both their sites.

And the other reviews are picking up pace – 6 reviews on Amazon, 4 on Amazon UK, 4 on Goodreads, 1 on Smashwords – all with a four-star average. Pretty good.

Sales are slowing a little, but still solid, and should pick up again with these reviews. I’m almost 50% towards covering my costs in less than two weeks on sale. If I can cover my costs in the first month, that would be amazing.

Sales should also pick up when I release Transfection – hopefully towards the end of next week. I have more reviews, guest blogs, and other surprises lined up. I will post the news as I get it.

David Gaughran

Born in Ireland, he now lives in a little fishing village in Portugal, although this hasn’t increased the time spent outside. He writes novels under another name, has helped thousands of authors build a readership with his books, blogs, workshops, and courses, and has created marketing campaigns for some of the biggest self-publishers on the planet. Friend to all dogs.

0 Replies to “A Bad Week For Agents”

    1. Thanks Shea!

      It’s funny though, the more good reviews I get, the more sales drop. The only spike I have had in the last week was when someone gave me 2 stars in the UK. Weird, but I guess good reviews pay off over a longer period.

      1. There might also be a tiny bit of a backlash, because so many self-published authors are obviously gaming the review system. Even books written to a standard that could hardly be called literate have five or six 5-star reviews show up in the first few days. The reviewers either have never posted any other review or have only reviewed that author (all 5-star reviews). After sales pick up, the 1-star reviews start showing up, and one of the 5-star fans will start post obnoxious responses trying to shame the 1-star reviewers. It happens so often that readers and book bloggers have started commenting on the pattern. It might be making readers a little wary when a really good piece comes along and really earns those reviews. Hopefully, word of mouth will counteract the suspicion. It would *suck* to fail because you had a bunch of legitimate 5 and 4-star reviews.

        1. It’s possible, but doesn’t concern me too much. I have a stinky 2 star in the UK if anyone whats some authenticity!

          Seriously though, I’m in this for the long haul. What happens over a two week period is – more or less – irrelevant. If all my 4 and 5 star reviews are genuine, I’ll continue to collect them, and even the most industrious sock-puppet doesn’t seem to go beyond 10 fakies.

          If I get to 50 reviews, and the average is still anything close to what it is now, THEN I’ll see a positive sales effect. All this is just building blocks towards that.

          I’m sure there is some critical mass, some tipping point, to all of this. It could be a factor in the oft-claimed notion that you only really start seeing sales numbers after six months. Most of the success stories say the same thing.

          Most of those who sell three a month probably continue that way.

  1. Earning out the production costs of a well-produced short story, especially in a period with so many self-published novels (though many are truthfully only novella-length) are going for 99 cents, is a major achievement, I think. I might expect it from a strong mid-list author, but no one else. SO *major* applause for you, David! Well done. The hard work shows.

  2. David,

    I was reading your older post on agents splitting and I 100% agree they will have to adopt new roles. The example you gave, with the “30/30” split advertised as “50/50” is a great example of why many authors will go full indie or to a small publisher (such as Robin’s).

    Just think, this is happening with ebooks representing ~35% of the market. It amazes me how few are ready for it quickly becoming 70%. The book world is changing fast and I’m impressed and amazed by the growth of sales by ‘the small guy.’ Good luck!

    I’m looking forward to your historical novel. (Did I understand you correctly on that?)

    1. Hey Neil,

      Yeah this trend towards “net” is worrying as well. If the author’s 30% is only doled out after “production costs” are met then the agent/publisher has no real incentive to keep costs down.

      What’s worse is, you are moving from a relationship where they get 15% of your royalties/advance after they secure you a deal, and only for the duration of that deal, to permanently signing over a huge chunk of your copyright.

      Yes, the novel is a historical, needs another revision though. Aiming for end of summer, but I will have a few more short stories out in the meantime. If you want to read more about the novel – details towards the end of this post: https://davidgaughran.com/2011/05/14/book-extras-are-they-worth-the-trouble/


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