Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Obsolete Career

I was recently at an event where I was told, rather snidely, that I'd better be out looking for another job since it won't be long before literary agents are obsolete. This isn't the first time in the past few years I've heard a statement like this. It's also ironic since BookEnds has been growing and growing with each coming year.

I'm not a fan of a black and white world. I feel blessed that I can see the blue in the sky and the green in the leaves. I like to look at the world that way as well. There's a lot more than just do it this way or do it that way. There are a lot of other colors to consider.

There are a lot of authors who are having great success self-publishing. I'm thrilled for them and I commend them for the work they're doing because, who are we kidding, it's a hell of a lot of work to self-publish successfully.

There is no doubt in my mind that agents have and will face challenges brought on by the changing face of publishing. That we'll all experience a moment when an author decides that she no longer needs us. Heck, that happened well before self-publishing anyway. That being said, there are just as many authors out there who really don't want to be business owners. That's also why people outside of publishing continue to go to work for corporations. Not everyone wants to deal with all of the details that owning a business entails. Some people just want to crunch numbers or write the book and let someone else deal with payroll, IRS census forms, hiring, firing, and banking.

I feel pretty confident that I'm going to be around for a long time, at this desk, selling these books. Authors will come and go, agents will come and go, publishers will come and go, but in the end we're all shooting for the same goal. We want great books to be read. So let's stop predicting the end of everyone else's career and instead applaud each other for whichever path we've chosen to take.



Christa Avampato said...

Many people have also said that ebooks will replace paperbacks and hardcovers. However, in the first half of 2014 both paperbacks and hardcovers outsold ebooks in unit sales. All we have to do is the very best we can everyday and let the critics and analysts predict whatever they want to predict. We make our own future.

Ryan Sherwood said...

Makes sense and I agree. One of the reasons I reach out to agents is to try and have experienced knowledge in my corner. Along with opportunity and a shared goal. There are avenues newbie authors like me could see in time, but not right off.
With that being said, what do you make of Kindle Scout?

Kaye George said...

As one of your clients who has feet on both sides, I applaud your sentiments and agree completely. You guys (Midwest for y'all) know what you're doing and you're doing it right!

Ellen Bourne said...

I was always taught that a literary/talent agent is the best option when shopping a manuscript. I think it's worth it, and I doubt they'll become obsolete. Agents do a lot more than just send emails!

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Come on, Jessica, don't you know your job became obsolete the moment they invented Submittable?

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I think you're completely right and you will be laughing all the way to the bank. The only thing that has changed, in my mind, is that I no longer have the desire to sign with an agent (even one I might be able to find under a rock), unless it fits like a very comfy, yet flattering shoe.

Sounds a bit like sour grapes in that person's comment.