The (Publishing) Times They Are Achanging

(Or Why I’m No Longer Agented)

… or I won’t be when the thirty days for contract expiration run out.

First of all, because dropping one’s agent in publishing is a lot like a Hollywood divorce, particularly when you’ve been together for eight years, as Lucienne and I have, I’d like to say it’s not her; it’s also not me; it’s the field and the way it’s changing (and how fast.) Lucienne was the best agent I ever had and is also a talented YA writer whom I can tell you without reservations to check out. (And now it’s not a conflict of interest.)

To explain what I’ve done, I need to explain my reasoning, which at the time is a little hard since part of me wants to sit around in a robe all day eating rocky road ice cream. (Inadvisable, since I need to finish Darkship Renegades and also because I’m not allowed marshmallows on this diet.) I haven’t been unagented since 97 and every time I dropped an agent before I secured one first. This time I chose not to do so because I think an agent won’t help. I could be wrong, in which case I’ll shop for an agent sometime in the future. However for now I’m alone, working without a net.

Things have changed so fast, you see, that a year ago because it looked like my series might all crash, I was very afraid Lucienne would drop me. Because she’s my fourth agent and because I haven’t even looked in so long, I was terrified of the process of looking and how much it would take away from my writing time. And yet now I voluntarily drop representation. What gives?

Let’s go back to 97, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and publishing houses not only weren’t reading unagented, they were lying about it. I.e., you could send your manuscript, and it would come back in x time with a rejection letter. The editorial assistants had the option of reading slush, but it happened only once in a blue moon. Mostly getting rid of manuscripts accumulating in the little slush room was a task involving putting in a rejection letter and speeding it back to its owner. There were exceptions, even back then. I had a couple of personal rejections. But, by and large, this was the protocol.

Once I understood agents were now the effective slush readers, I started courting agents. My first agent, let’s call her Ms. A, signed me on the strength of a novel now rewritten and published. Then she proceeded NOT to sent it out. And to lie to me about it. Look, the novel was flawed and I knew that. She gave me some re-write advice (good one) and I took it. Why didn’t she tell me about the main thing that made the novel unsaleable? I don’t know. Perhaps she was afraid how a newby would react. Or perhaps she liked lost causes. Who knows?

Eventually, I went to a workshop and there pretty much sold my first novel, Ill Met By Moonlight in proposal. To get the contract it needed only sending it out and getting it formally accepted. I sent out the proposal to my agent the day I got home. Three weeks later I heard through a mutual friend the editor was disappointed I’d dropped the project. So, I started shopping for agent #2.

Agent #2 was my dream agent, the one I’d have wanted first if I had a chance. We hit it off, I hired him right after meeting him. And then… And then I realized he had a “formula” for writing bestsellers, and he was going to make my rather quirky Shakespearean fantasies fit into it. One piece of advice he gave me was very good and it was something that I – frankly – should have known (make emotional action visible through physical action) but I wasn’t ready to understand it. He sold the sequels to Shakespeare for me, taking “a smaller advance than we could, but this will keep us writing on this series a long time.” He was wrong, and even at the time I knew he was wrong. (Someday I’ll do a post on why getting the biggest possible advance was the way to survive, back then.) Oh, Agent #2 also refused to send out anything not in that series.

Agent #3 was a bright up and coming assistant (who I understand is doing very well in her own right now.) Again, we hit it off right away. However, nothing I sent her ever got sent out. Part of this was her fault, part mine. I was badly put off my stride by agent #2. It’s not that I don’t take criticism well (I do. Sometimes too well.) It’s that I don’t rewrite to formula well. Actually, back then I had clue zero how to rewrite. I’ve explained before it’s an art in itself and it takes forever to learn. To put it mildly, I sucked at it. Doing the type of rewrite he wanted me to do was beyond my powers and guaranteed to turn out an awful book. (In fact the book I did this too, the second of the Shakespeare series, has the lowest sell-through of any of my books ever. Yes, even the one with the awful cover.) So I was off my stride and not writing as much as I could. But eventually I was offered a contract with Baen and agent #3 told me it was her or Baen. Well, children… One of them was offering to pay me and I had a mortgage.

This is when I hired Lucienne. It was also the first time I behaved like a real professional and submitted to ten people, then picked among the four that offered representation. And it paid off.

Lucienne and I not only hit it off personally (though not really at first. I was trying to maintain distance, given my experiences) but we also hit it off professionally. In the first year I was working with her we sent off something like sixteen proposals and sold seven (?) of those almost immediately. And I’ve kept busy ever since.

But for the last year I’ve had a growing sense that something was wrong. Part of it was the response to two novels I sent out. I’m not going to detail the response, but it wasn’t just that they were rejected but that the way they were rejected indicated answering cold submissions was no longer part of an editor’s primary job. If I had to guess, I’d say that the same thing is going on with this as went on with slush two decades ago. In this case it is due to shrinking lists and problems with distribution. Publishing houses are either sticking with their stable (Probably 90% of the new authors you see are old pros with new names) poaching bestsellers from each other, or hiring on the basis of “she’s a friend of, who has done well for us.” (This btw makes them absolutely the same as the rest of the hiring field. Yeah, you can still get a job from applying cold, but it’s fairly rare.)

The other part of it is that I’ve been looking at where things are going, how the market is changing and a lot of the things I’d like to try are things I’ll either have to invent (yes, I’m still working out how a subscription would work), things that I’ll have to learn and my agent knows no more about than I do (minor subgenres with obscure presses), things in which no agent can help (publishing through a co-op micro press or publishing myself) and other things that agents (well, understand, with the closing of the publishing field to just a few houses they had to be loyal to publishers, no matter how much they tried to stick up for agents) will simply NOT let you do like absolutely closed names that even the publishers don’t know about. (No, it’s not ethically wrong. Golden Age authors did it. The book is the book is the book.)

I’m not writing off big publishers. I’ll continue working for Baen. However, my relationship with them is of the sort we never needed an agent. (First, I give the publisher Port, then we negotiate – evil grin.) And I’ve got a few novels I’ll be submitting to a couple of houses for highly targeted type marketing that I’m fairly confident of placing, at least if the houses are still there, and if there’s a market for traditionally published books.

And that brings me to the next step. You see, I believe there will be a market. I believe some (though not all) of the large houses will adapt and survive this. However – and this I can’t emphasize enough – the agencies don’t think publishing is going to be with us much longer or that you can make a living off it.

I think part of this is that the agencies are still selling – and well – the books of bestsellers, because that’s what the houses want right now. This is misguided as I think the bulk of their income is still from midlisters. It’s akin to the restaurant that decides that they make the most money off deserts, they in fact lose money off ribs, which brings in most of the customers. So they’re going to take out ribs and serve only appetizers and deserts. (And then are shocked when the bottom line crashes.)

While it’s misguided for publishers, it will take a while for the financial effect to be felt. But it’s being felt by agencies. Us midlisters are by and large a low-work lot, who get our own contracts and keep on going. So we were a good “bulk” money maker for an agent. But now the big houses don’t want no stinking ribs.

Agencies are feeling the pinch from this, and in response they’re doing something which the agency Lucienne works for just did. (To quote my husband who is the sweet side of this association “Well, they’ve got to make a living, somehow. What would you have them do?”) And while I understand it, I want no part of it.

Yep, they’ve started their own digital publisher.

I know I’ve said here in the past that this was the logical next step in digital publishing. Agencies already sift through slush. They already promote their writers, to greater or lesser extent. So, why not transition?

Well, two problems. First, they’re not transitioning. They’re remaining agents and charging you for the privilege of selling things to themselves. (Kris Rusch has written extensively on the conflict of interest present, but it should be obvious to everyone, too.) Second, they are loading the deals with up front costs. (Perfectly understandable, if you’re in a bid to survive, but it makes them much inferior to most micro publishers out there, who will get you cover, proofread and put up your manuscript for a percentage of your earnings which comes out at the same time your earnings do. I.e. you’ll start earning from the first dollar, not after 1k or so is paid back to the “publishing agency.”)

So, agencies who publish you are making a desperate bid to survive and they’re not necessarily the best deal for epublishing. But why do I say this means they don’t think the big houses will survive?

First, because if they thought this was just a trough in sales, they’ve gone through those before without changing their model and they would do so again. Second, because of the conflict of interest. They wouldn’t risk the appearance of competing with the big publishing houses if they didn’t know, in their heart of hearts that the big giants as such are over.

Heck, the big giants think the game is over. Why do I say that? Because they’re not completely stupid. (Individual editors may vary.) They know – they have to know – that if all they keep in their stable are bestsellers, in a year or two the bestsellers will decide that they can make more money self-publishing or from a micro press. They can. And they have the name, so… why not? Publishers have to see this as clearly as I do. So, why go to that model? Unless your whole intent is as a stop gap measure “to keep us afloat just another two years.”

Do I agree with them? Not necessarily. I think some of the big houses will pull back from the abyss. They can still offer value, or at least some of their imprints can, if they uncouple from the conglomerate and develop highly individualized selections and a community that’s loyal to them – say, like Baen. Then they can put their imprimatur on newbies and offer beginners a ready-made public they’d not otherwise have.

So you could say I’m unagented because the agency my agent works for no longer believes the old model is viable, and I don’t agree with their concept of the new model.

Of course, the usual caveats apply. Making predictions is hard, particularly about the future. I could be completely wrong. If I am, I might yet be shopping for an agent. But that will probably be in two years or so when everyone is done making desperate moves to “see us through the next two years.”

Until then, like any good super hero, I’ll work alone. And now excuse me, I need to get out of this bathrobe, take a shower and work.

Maybe it’s my being an Heinleinian (reformed but unredeemable) but while there’s doom and gloom all around, from where I’m standing, the future is so bright, I got to wear shades.

Update:  See the post on July 29 about Lucienne Diver’s letter.  It is entirely possible their letter gave me the wrong idea — though I’d like to note that other agents who became publishers also don’t take submissions, etc. I’d be QUITE glad to post the letter that gave me the wrong idea — it wouldn’t be the first time, or the last I misread something.

I’d like to point out even if Knight is doing what Lucienne says they are and shouldering the cost of the covers, etc it’s a little strange to take a 15% fee — who are they selling it to?  And how?  Why not just take a flat fee to help people with this?  However, that’s nit picking.  For my part I will re-instate that the 15% fee and all sails too close to the good ol’ conflict of interest for my taste and as for me and my own judgement, I’ll have none of it.

*Crossposted at Mad Genius Club and Classical Values*

34 thoughts on “The (Publishing) Times They Are Achanging

  1. I wouldn’t mind the agencies opening their own e-presses _if_ both writer and agent agreed that a novel had circulated to the most likely traditional markets, and wasn’t going to sell; and _if_ the agency then dropped all agenting fees and acted _solely_ as a publisher.

    Until then, waving farewell is about all you can do.

    Better yet, would be an agent who, after working at and failing to sell a novel, offered flat fee editing, proofing, converting, and uploading services. But that’s just me, too lazy to hunt down experts working for a flat fee and learning how to do the converting and uploading part myself.

  2. I found this post very interesting. Here’s my analysis, which you touch on: agencies aren’t familiar with the micro-pubs, but also not familiar with the self-pub community.

    The self-pub community, if you plug yourself into it, has a huge support system that connects writers to the very services these “agency pubs” offer, at lower cost.

    What does an agent have that these networks have? An agent has an intrinsic understanding of what sells, at least, they are supposed to have. While it may be a skill that is “what sells to a big publisher”, it does have synergy in understanding readers.

    And that’s the rub: This skill set is what I might pay money for. All the rest I can find someone to do it for me at cheaper cost and, arguably, better executed. But they aren’t selling that skill.

    On a side note, publishers shutting down their midlists is self-defeating and really, really bad for them. The Kindle will fill this hole immediately with small presses and self-published books faster than a publisher can pull back. I read an awesome fantasy the other day and I couldn’t figure out who the publish was: was it micro? Self? Some sneaky imprint? The author on her website was tight-lipped, yet professional. I decided I didn’t care, which I’m sure was her goal.

    On one hand, as a reader, I love all the books I am easily finding.

    On the other hand, I’m watching the asteroid fall and the dinosaurs looking at it makes me want to yell “LOOK OUT!”

  3. Anthony,

    actually their skill is MOSTLY “How to sell to publishers” — it was what paid till very recently. Is there a synergy? Not really. There is only fast-fading perstige. And I totally agree with you on what the publishers are doing, but that’s something else.

  4. Well if there isn’t synergy, and you would know more than I, there isn’t a value add. At all. Their knowledge of the book industry and publishing system would be a hindrance and any writer using their services would be engaging in a short-sided convenience detrimental to their long-term career viability.

    I get it now. The agent’s value was her network. The network has changed.

    Damn, I love capitalism, I really do.

  5. “First, I give the publisher Port, then we negotiate – evil grin.”
    While terribly fond of Port, this took my mind to Flanders & Swann’s song “Have some Madeira M’Dear” [ ]. If you aren’t familiar with the duo prepare for some time well-wasted; if you are familiar …

    As to your agency decision, one of the greatest and most commonly made mistakes is sticking with a plan after it clearly is no longer viable, based on a paradigm which no longer exists. That any Science Fiction author might do so is as ironic as it is common.

  6. Agents work in the book business. Most writers are no longer in the book business. Why drag them into your new business at great expense and trouble and lasting drainage? You might as well hire the unemployed bookstore clerk as your web consultant, or the guy who drove the book delivery van as your marketer. Good luck.

  7. A fabulous post which should be required reading for anyone contemplating signing with – or leaving – an agent. The digital tsunami is fast making book agents as irrelevant as travel agents.

    1. Paul, You’d be AMAZED how many people I know insist on not hearing me when I tell them this. “But I need the validation of having an agent.” (Rolls eyes.)

  8. The business model publishers and agents are operating under in the physical world is being replaced by the virtual world business model. The old business model: the publishers are the buyers (intermediary buyers) and the authors are the sellers. First, there were way too many sellers (authors) for each buyer (publisher) and second, authors don’t like or know how to sell. Here comes the agent who can sell (for the author) and acts as a filter for the buyer (publisher.) It makes sense; life was good for agents.
    The virtual world eliminates the intermediate buyers (publishers.) They were the middle men all along due to the constraints of the physical world. If the publishers are gone who is the agent going to sell too? No one.
    Or is there? The books need to be sold to the readers. If the authors will learn this skill there will be no lit agents anymore. On the other hand if the authors don’t learn this skill the smart agents will capitalize on the selling and marketing of books in the virtual world. Shrewd and unethical agents will take advantage of the lazy and fearful authors who will give the farm away and replace the old publishers with this new breed of agents/publishers.

    1. I’m not sure these agents would need to be unscrupulous. There is a MINT to be made by saying “Just write, I’ll handle the promotion. I’ll tell you when you need to show up and what to wear, and can you forward me all your reviews and such? I’ll do tweeting and emailing bookbloggers and all that” Most obsessive writers like me WILL do the other stuff, if needed, but would much prefer to just write. Doesn’t mean we’re idiots, we still keep up with the money side. We’re just preferencial introverts. A lot of writers seem to be. Weirdly, Walt Whitman not withstanding, the ability to say “I’m great” and BEING great don’t always come together. As is, I’m totally open to co-ops for mutual promotion…

  9. During the past year and a half, we’ve watched the transition occurring in publishing, and after operating our agency since 1990, two months ago, we stopped representing authors, and explained that they no longer needed us, and we felt they should explore indie publishing. Presently we’re continuing to represent about ten illustrators which is how we began, but we’re no longer adding clients. It’s clear to me that agency operations had become victims of disintermediation like many other businesses and their useful life was limited. Sensing that It was time to find new employment, we’ve began a collaborative publishing venture for authors and illustrators of children book with an emphasis on the picture books. It’s been rewarding and provides a service, so we’ll do that until something changes again. It was fun while it lasted.

    1. I think a venture would do mighty well where you even just bring authors together and facilitate their mutual cross promotion efforts and even perhaps arrange with illustrators to do covers at a somewhat reduced rate (because frequent custom) and have one or two editors on tap for those that need it, but really, just establish relationships with cons looking for people, schools looking for groups to talk to kids on phone or via skype, conventions and gathering that want something for their “freebie bag” and will take an author’s bookmark or postcard or even some cute little thing related to the book (usually something small in plastic or metal that has something to do with the book plot.) Kind of like what publicists do nowadays, except publicists tend to publicize the AUTHOR not the individual work and/or have no clue how to publicize an author/book (the vast majority of them.) Eh. If the publishing thing doesn’t work, I might yet consider that — except that I’d probably suck at it, given my personality. And, oh, yeah, it’s not writing.

  10. Interesting post. I spoke with Lucienne about this very subject a year ago at a conference & she was against the practice of agents becoming publishers. Oh how things have changed in only one year!
    A year ago authors who self pub’s would never have been taken seriously by an agent or NY publisher. Now they’re snapping them up like M&M’s.
    A mid-list author friend of mine just got dropped by her Big 6 publisher & has 3 different e-publishers asking her to submit work to them and that’s just the few she happened to speak to at a conference without any real effort on her part. She was one of her publisher’s work horses who regularly sold through her advance & sold rights to her books overseas. She can’t get her Big 6 publisher (the only publisher she’s ever written for – she’s written 13 books for them) to look at a proposal from her. Dumb. Just dumb.
    I have never been comfortable with agents/agencies acting as publishers. I see what appeal the prospect has for them but as an author I can’t help but wonder- What’s in it for me? I can do what you do & keep the money.
    NY publishers don’t market authors like they used to, leaving authors to do it themselves. This practice has backfired in a big way. Authors have learned about marketing & self promotion and now with self publishing they’re putting their skills to use.
    Good luck to you and keep us posted on how things go for you.

    1. I haven’t been dropped by either of my publishers, but my mystery publisher will need to give me a big advance… I met huge resistence to working for them last time. Just… my subconscious doesn’t like the deal it’s getting. So I’m thinking of taking my mystery career on the road.
      I agree with you on agencies as publishers. I think they’re just trying to survive, and I THINK they don’t expect publishing to survive… TRULY. It hit me the day after I got the announcement letter. “No one would do this who thinks they can still sell to publishers in enough quantity to make a living.”
      So… to quote PTerry’s little blue men, “I’m offski”

      I’ll keep you posted. Hopefully not “Starving. Send money.” 🙂

  11. I want to clarify something here. The Knight Agency is not becoming a digital publisher. We’re helping those authors who want to publish their backlist but not do all the legwork themselves and taking only the agency commission, while we pay various expenses, like covers and ISBN registration. We’re also doing this for some original fiction authors have requested we do that has not been picked up by major publishers. We =are not= taking submissions or facilitating publication of works by authors we do not represent.

    1. Lucienne,

      Do I have your permission to print the letter about TKA venturing into helping authors with digital publishing? I completely understand what you’re saying, and it’s entirely possible I misunderstood the letter. I did not see any indication of who paid cover, ISBN, etc — again, it’s possible I misread it, which you must understand is QUITE likely after the other letters of the kind one has seen. At any rate, I still find it sheers a bit close for my comfort which is something you’ll have to understand.

  12. I’m repped by the Knight Agency, and I’m one of their initial launches for their program, and I had to chime in and say that the above post absolutely misrepresents everything that the Knight Agency is doing. They are providing an amazing service to their authors for a price that is worth every penny. They are absorbing every cost except copy editing, and they are also receiving extensive training on the marketing side of digital publishing, so that they are going to be able to provide the same sort of value that do for for agent print books, which is the contacts, the leverage, the expertise, the career planning, the strategy etc that they specialize in as agents. The actual uploading of product and preparing that is merely a service they absorb to enable them to help their clients diversify their careers into the digital market, just like any reputable agency will absorb the costs of print submissions etc. The Knight Agency is facilitating their author’s access into the digitial market in the same way that they facilitate their authors access into the print market–it’s just different steps to prepare and disseminate a book for the e-pub market than for the print market, and that’s what they’re doing, for free, just like they’ve always done. But now what they’re doing it they are using their expertise and their clout to ehance the author’s career in in digitial as well as print–they are, as they always have been, a broker between the author and those that will pay them money–in this case, it’s websites that are the publishers, in print cases, it’s the bricks and mortar publishers. This is what a great agency does, and the Knight Agency is cutting edge in seeing how their role needs to expand into the digitial field. For those who believe that an agency cannot add value well worth their 15% in the digital market, then that is their choice to believe that, just as there have always been thos who claim that agents don’t add value worth 15% for print sales. The Knight Agency is amazing, and I am so pleased that my career is in their hands. I’m a former lawyer with more than 20 titles in print with big publishers, and I’m no newbie. I’m someone with a vision for a long, successful, well-planned and creativtely managed career, and the Knight Agency is the agency with the vision to move into this new age with success and vision.

  13. I’m also repped by the the Knight Agency, and I was dismayed to find them being so misrepresented here. My understanding (and I used to work as an editor at a Big Six publisher) is that there’s a huge distinction between an agency taking 15% commission for helping an author to self publish and retain her own rights versus acquiring rights to the author’s work for a 50/50 split.

    TKA is not acquiring rights. They are working with existing clients to help them with their self-publishing efforts–not taking submissions and building a line of e-pubbed titles.

    Basically, if you’re not accepting submissions and acquiring rights? You are not a publisher. End of story.

  14. The way I see it, can I self-pub my work myself? Sure, I can. If I work with the Knight Agency, will they do it so much better that it increases my sales more than the 15% that they would take? You bet they will. See, here’s the thing. The Knight Agency won’t just put it up there. They will have the economies of scale to negotiate with the publishers/etailers for page placement, for links to other books (if you like JR Ward, you might like Stephanie Rowe), for special promos or price shifts that get your book up front with readers. Right now, indie authors are saying “Wow! That was huge that Amazon picked my book to do a free eRead. I don’t know how they picked me, but it was awesome for my sales!” When you have an agent working for you, they can actually negotiate for that kind of thing, instead of simply crossing their fingers and making a wish. In fact, the more people there are who self-pub, the more impt my agent will be. If there are a million $0.99 books out there, how is the reader going to find you? Product placement for one, and that’s what the Knight Agency has been doing for decades: negotiating for this kind of stuff from the people who put your book in front of readers.

  15. Agents and agencies are scrambling to get the last low hanging leaves being handed out by writers who don’t know any better or who refuse to accept that publishing is changing and that agents (in their current manifestation) are irelevant. But what happens when the last leaves are picked? Pay-for-service offerings are growing by leaps and bounds; a writer can easily find places where they can get their manuscript edited and formatted, their interiors and exteriors designed, and everything uploaded, should they chose not to do so on their own (which many don’t realize they can), all for one-time fees. Why pay 15% or 50% (in perpetuity!) when you can pay once and be done with it?

    There is an area where agents will remain of service, though, and that’s in the rights department (although a good lawyer can be just as effective and not demand the royalty cut). It’ll be interesting to see how they fall out of the changes occuring right now.

  16. Well, shoot. I guess I should have posted here instead of at the next post in line, to your comments in response to Lucienne’s letter (I didn’t see any permission to post that private communication, but I’ll guess that you had it). Anyway, that same post follows. I hope you’ll put it through moderation wherever you feel it best fits.
    I received that same letter and was startled by your interpretation. I am profoundly relieved at the direction the Knight Agency has taken with this step, as I’ve seen other agencies tackle the same process in a way that does indeed make me…well, want to take a shower.

    I’ve been involved with self-pubbing my backlist (and have co-started a collection of Backlist eBooks authors doing the same), and I’m intimately involved with the whole process; I know what it takes, and I know exactly what TKA is offering to take on. Because I’ve already developed the knowledge/resources to get my backlist up there, TKA actually offers me less than many authors with this program–but I was delighted recently to discuss the self-publication of an original via their program. In fact, I’ll probably still be handling much of the process, because I’m a control freak and it will please me. What I’ll get is the benefit of TKA’s publicity efforts, and their position as a third-party filter for readers.

    I’ve been working on writer awareness of scams and conflicts of interest since I was SFWA linksmaster (9 years of that) for the first SFWA site. I’m fully immersed in the world of digital self-publishing, as well as a working with a small (digital/hardcopy) press that has offered for a couple of my backlist books. I’ve been published across genres by the big guys since ’94, and have over 35 books on the shelves/about to land there…and yeah, I’m on my fourth agent, too (disclaimer–yes! Lucienne!). The point being, it’s a roundhouse of experience that not only makes me fully comfortable in assessing the new TKA services from all angles, it put me in the position to see the care that went into developing a service that avoids crossing the very line your initial post blames them for crossing.

    This industry is difficult enough right now; opinions will always vary, and everyone’s personal decisions will be based on what’s right for them. But we can have all that and still stick to the facts in the process–starting with the ones where TKA not only isn’t acting as a digital publisher, they’ve bent backwards to avoid it while still offering a service that will help authors navigate the changing publishing landscape.

  17. I’ve been following some of the news regarding the transitioning of Agents to some model of trying to support self-epublishing… and I happened upon this post as a result of reading a recent post by Jim C. Hines.

    I get most of the discussion here… but something you said in your post utterly confused me, and I’m really curious what you meant by it…

    “…and other things that agents (well, understand, with the closing of the publishing field to just a few houses they had to be loyal to publishers, no matter how much they tried to stick up for agents) will simply NOT let you do like absolutely closed names that even the publishers don’t know about. (No, it’s not ethically wrong. Golden Age authors did it. The book is the book is the book.)”

    What was all that about? What do you mean by “absolutely closed names that even publishers don’t know about”? Would you mind terribly elaborating on that?

    1. No. I mean having a pen name your editor doesn’t know is a pen name. It’s a tricky thing and agents absolutely refused to do it. I understand their reasons, but a lot of independent authors do it.

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