Do You Need Representation with an Indie Publisher?

Thanks to recently published author and Massachusetts lawyer Pete Morin, I read an interesting post from Kristine Kathryn Rusch, whose recent experiences with two editors prompted her to identify the advantages and disadvantages of the traditional publishing/agent model and those of the indie publishing model.

I mostly agree with her analysis, but disagree with her implicit assumption that having an agent or at least some representation is mutually exclusive with going to an indie publisher. There may not be room for an agent’s ongoing representation — and, as she notes, the 15% commission — with an indie publisher that isn’t going to pay any advance, but my experience, as illustrated by some of the contracts I’ve reviewed in earlier posts, is that a writer still needs the benefit of an agent or lawyer to review an indie publisher’s contract and provide some advice about its provisions.

Ms. Rusch comes down ultimately on the side of indie publishing, which is a choice that a lot of writers are making now. However, if a writer, or even a published author, goes the indie publishing route without consulting an agent or lawyer about his or her rights and responsibilities under the contract, the writer is not helping his or her career.

Here’s my bottom line to writers: don’t let your desire (also known as desperation) to be published overwhelm your judgment about whether a deal is good for your career. And if you’re not sure whether the deal is good for your career, then you’ve just answered the question of whether you need help from an agent or lawyer.

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