Monday, July 26, 2010


Well this is certainly a grey area...

The Wylie Agency, whose clients include such scribe estates of Saul Bellow and John Updike and living authors like Salman Rushdie and Philip Roth launched a publishing house last week called Odyssey Editions. So far, it boasts 20 e-books of acclaimed contemporary works, including Roth's "Portnoy's Complaint" and Updike's four "Rabbit" novels and available only through Amazon, an arrangement that enraged publishers and rival sellers.

The new venture also received a mixed response from the Authors Guild, which represents thousands of published writers. In an e-mail sent to authors, the Guild defended the Wylie Agency's right to sell e-books of older works without the publisher's permission, but also criticized excluding Amazon's competitors and worried about "serious potential conflicts of interest" when an agent becomes a publisher.

"The most obvious of these (conflicts) is the possibility of self-dealing to the detriment of the agency's client, the author," the Guild's message said. "A major agency starting a publishing company is weird, no matter how you look at it."

What say you? To read more, click HERE.

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  1. Yeahm just read the PW piece. Hmmm...

    Well, most agents are certainly filling in as editors, while pubhouse editors are more like bean counters. So why not?

    Remember, though, that Wylie struck a VERY good and exclsuive deal with amazon on 'reprints' of his clients. Not the new stuff.


  2. I dunno - publishers can be so snooty, though - maybe agents can do a better job? I dunno...

  3. It's only "weird" because we haven't seen it done often. It could easily become popular with e-distribution removing some of the need for physical publishing. Right now it's just some rich folks licensing old copies of rich writers' stuff in one medium. No impact on the average writer.

    Later on, though, it could be problematic. An honest publisher will always tell you to get an agent before negotiating with them. If the agent is the publisher, then the traditional financial helper who has your interests in mind could disappear. Queue publishing insiders who tell us writers that knowing everything about the contract side is the next part of the work (after writing, editing, connecting and promoting) that we should have expected to have to do all along.

  4. I dunno, is it any weirder than singers starting their own label and recruiting other singers?

  5. Totally late to the topic, but here's what I think: The Big Publishers have had it coming. It's not weird, it's capitalism at its meatiest.


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