Pub Rants

Talking NLA’S DLP

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STATUS: This morning I thought I had a mild day in front of me. After the third fire before 10 a.m., I gave up that notion.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? REMINISCING by Little River Band

So yesterday’s announcement is not the be all end all of this topic. I’m happy to chat some more about our new Digital Platform.

As I said yesterday, we developed our model in conversation with our clients. In fact, their input modeled it. I went to them and said, “If an agent was going to offer a supported environment for self publishing, what would make sense to you? What would be of concern? What would make it worth an agent’s commission?”

And they told me. They also were gracious enough to review various model outlines and the DLP agreement that any author interested in using the DLP would need to click “I Agree” to use it.

And their help was absolutely invaluable and I feel quite comfortable that what we’ve created is the right approach–that we have not created something that will be a conflict of interest in representing clients and is a very ethical way for an agent to provide yet another facet of services to our authors.

My client Courtney Milan was gracious enough to post a blog entry on the topic today if you’d like some insight from an author who is currently self pubbing happily and successfully and not through our DLP–which by the way, bothers me not at all. I support her choice. Another client plans to do a guest entry on why she is using the full-service option and why she has been over-the-moon to do so.

Just wait until you see her totally kick-a** cover–something I don’t think she would have gotten on her own. It’s stunning.

I imagine that if a writer believes that all an agent does is sell books to publishers, there might be questioning on why an author would bother using an agency’s DLP. After all, a writer can certainly write the book, convert the efiles (or pay someone to), and put the titles up on Amazon, BN, Smashwords, Apple, what have you.

But you see, my authors know I do so much more than that.

And as an agent, I have relationships with folks that most writers can’t even imagine. Will all of them be valuable? No. Have some already proven to be? Yep.

But let’s talk DLP stuff.

1) First a correction. In yesterday’s entry, I realized that I typed “term of license.” Oi! In our DLP agreement, it’s a “term of liaison.” Not quite the same thing in a rather big way. So my apologies. For our full-service option, NLA foots all the upfront costs–which is why we specify a 2 year term of liaison. Could you imagine plunking down the money and have the author pull it a month later and we are simply out of luck? Quite frankly, my authors are awesome and I can’t imagine any one of them doing that but as an agent, I still have to be smart about it.

In short, for full-service, it needs to be on our DLP for 2 years and that’s it. After that, authors are free to do as they please and we will even give them their files. After all, they own it. They didn’t grant rights to us.

If we haven’t recouped in 2 and they take it, are we screwed? Yep. But I’m betting that it’s so worthwhile, that they are happy to keep it there. Nothing is in perpetuity. Why would an author do that?

For distribution only venue, an author can come and go as they please. All we are providing is access to venues they can’t access. It’s our standard 15% commission. For anyone who doesn’t think that’s worth it, they obviously have not wrestled with google’s very unfriendly platform. Not to mention, we have venues that authors individually do not have access to. And let me tell you, having been there and done that, it’s probably not worth the headache for an author. Amazon and BN have designed it to be easy. Not all venues have done the same.

2) Now remember, the author is in full control of their work. In the full-service option, they have access to a rather in-depth list of resources for cover artists, copyeditors, proofreaders, developmental editors, publicists, web designers, etc. They choose; we pay. The only exception is the developmental editor. The only reason for that is because we have no say in the revision process and I could see an author running up a rather big tab on the agency’s dime by doing endless revisions for months on end. Probably unlikely but once again, we need to be smart about things.

Now, keep in mind, as many of my clients can attest to (for good or for bad *grin*), I’m an agent who edits–probably to the level of a developmental editor.

3) On our full service, we rep the subrights–foreign, film, etc.

One commenter asked “It seems an inherent conflict–the agent has a vested interest in the author NOT publishing with a publishing house else, but instead self-publishing using services NLA benefits from financially.”

Actually no. The author client is self-publishing so it’s not even a choice for me. I have no say on whether they are on the DLP or not. If they are looking for an agent, my assumption is it’s because they want a finger in all pies and are looking for a print/ebook deal with a “traditional” publisher (for lack of a better word). I’m not taking on writers who just want to use our DLP.

That is not the point of offering this service.

Hopefully I’ve answered all questions. It’s after 8 p.m. and all I really want to do is go home and eat dinner.

9 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    The only comment I’d like to add is that authors who agree to other venues fully understand that most sales of digital books are generated through Amazon. Or through digital publishers web sites. In other words, an e-book can be sent from one venue to another but the sales still come from Amazon as it stands right now.

  2. Laurel said:

    I think the whole kit and kaboodle is genius. And I’ve been wondering for a while when an agent would embrace in something like this.

    I hope you have great success with this model.

  3. Quill2006 said:

    This is really interesting to see, and I hope it works out well for you and the authors who decide to use the service. It sounds like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort to work the kinks out in advance and to maintain your ethical standards. I’m pleased to see an agent who’s looking to the future and attempting to find ways to help authors publish ebooks in more venues.

    I’ve only seen this from the consumer end, where I’ll want a book in a particular format and not be able to obtain it, even though it’s readily available in another, similar format.

    I’m a librarian, and we’re pretty much stuck dealing with Overdrive (and their, in my opinion, terrible system) and our patrons don’t understand why we aren’t getting ebooks in the formats they prefer, nor why we keep using a system that doesn’t function well. We can finally get Kindle books, but it’s been a long battle and there are a lot of issues still to be resolved.

  4. magolla said:

    This last year, I decided to self-pub the middle grade novels I’d written (2 series novels and 3 related short stories), and I’m currently editing #3 for uploading.

    And NLA’s DLP would be something I would jump at. Like anything new, there is a HUGE learning curve with self-publishing. I know numerous authors who are doing well and making decent money at it.

    Many of them have a few added advantages:
    1) a known name (published traditionally)
    2) writing in an established genre (romance, erotica, etc). MG is relatively new in ebooks because the parent is still monitoring downloads and most kids don’t have an e-reader(though they were big gifts this last Christmas!)
    3) a networking platform that reaches out to potential readers, prior to SP endeavor.

    I’ve had a tough time finding reviewers for my MG novels. In fact, I’ve been on one waiting list for over 7 months. Having an agent who has access to numerous reviewers would be wonderful.

    Finding a designer for cover art is hard . . . and a crap shoot. What I want to see on a cover isn’t necessarily what sells the cover. To that end, I LOVE my covers.

    Don’t even ask me about foreign sales. True, Amazon has opened new shops in numerous countries, but they want to read TRANSLATIONS and not the English version. Finding (and paying a translator) is totally out of my abilities.

    I’m sure there are a few more points I’d like to make, but I need to walk my kidlet to school!

  5. SBibb said:

    This is a very intriguing offer, in my opinion. I recently read about another book that used a similar idea, where the agent offered help for it.

    I personally am hoping to go the traditional route, but something like this is just as viable to me, for example, if no publishers show interest.

    My question is, how do you choose people to use this service? I know the author elects to do so, but do they need to query you first, specifically for it? Or is it a case where the book didn’t sell to a publisher, and you offer to give them this sort of representation?


  6. Lucy said:

    And if Blogger eats my comment for the third time, I want to know why. 😀

    Just to say I think this is a great model, Kristin, and I love the idea. Thanks for all you do to support your authors. Even if I’m not one of them, it gives me the warm fuzzies to see an agent so involved.

  7. Anonymous said:

    I find it interesting that a new type of service is still compensated by the “old” standards.

    Why 15%? Why put in the loophole of having a two-year minimum in your liaison agreement to cover your risk? Why not price the service for what it is?

    I’m still waiting to hear about that “fresh new idea” from an agency on how they can help the writer in the e-market. (Gee, haven’t we heard that request before?)

    I’ve followed this blog for quite some time and appreciate all the insight you’ve provided. Please keep this conversation going. The agent’s role in the new way of publishing has yet to be clearly articulated and NLA is an agency who could make this happen.

    Thank you, Kristen, for your honesty and putting yourself out there in the best interest of all writers, not just your clients.