March 19, 2012
An agent’s manifesto
by Ellie Robins
Over on The Bookseller‘s blog, a big-name UK agent, Jonny Geller, has put together an ‘agent’s manifesto’, to redress the current problems in the publishing industry. It reads:
» The author is the expert. Why assume that the one person who has spent the past 12-18 months on the subject, the story and the world of their work, knows least about how they should be represented to the trade and to the reader?
» The author is not an object which a publisher has to step over in order to achieve a successful publication. If they have a problem with the cover, blurb, copy or format, then something isn’t right.
» The author loves bookshops. Bookshops need to learn how to love authors again. We need to bring them back together.
» We publishing professionals are the ones who bear the risk—agents with time; publishers with investment; retailers with space. Authors risk only their whole life, self-esteem and their babies.
» Publishers need to understand that “Author Care” is not a euphemism for “Care in the Community”. Authors who are valued, understood, appreciated, included, nurtured and spoken to like an adult will experience a phenomenon called Trust. Trust breeds loyalty; loyalty means longevity; longevity means sales.
» Authors will endeavour to understand better what a publisher does—e-books are not created after two minutes of scanning and ticking a series of boxes on Amazon’s self-publishing program.
It’s always worthwhile to remind ourselves to value authors, who after all provide not only the material that fuels the publishing industry but the art that gives life value, but some of these points seem a little off the mark to me. For example, in my experience independent booksellers are among the hardest working champions of authors there are. Nobody needs to teach them how to love authors again. Anyone else have any comments on this list?
Ellie Robins is an editor at Melville House. Previously, she was managing editor of Hesperus Press.