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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Agent-assisted self publication

The Argo Navis Grab

"Lazy literary agents in self-publishing money grab via Argo Navis," runs the title line in an apparently very well-researched and definitely timely post on David Gaughran's blog, LET'S GET DIGITAL.

It was written in response to the news that David Mamet is going to self-publish his next book.

"While I think it’s great that someone as high-profile as David Mamet is self-publishing," writes Gaughran, "I was very disappointed to find out the way he’s doing it."

That is because Mamet is self-publishing through an outfit with a nautical name, Argo Navis.

And Gaughran follows up with a list of well-thought-out reasons, all backed up with logic.  It's a post that anyone who is thinking of self-publishing and is signed up with any of the following agents should read without delay:

  • Writers House
  • ICM Partners
  • Carol Mann Agency
  • Cynthia Cannell Literary Agency
  • The Hartnett Agency
  • Paul Bresnick Literary Agency
  • Pinder Lane & Garon-Brooke Associates
  • Curtis Brown (US)
  • April Eberhardt Literary
  • David Black Agency
  • Elizabeth Kaplan Literary Agency
  • Folio Literary Management
  • Levine Greenberg Literary Agency
  • Liza Royce Literary Agency
  • Melanie Jackson Agency
  • Janklow & Nesbit Associates
  • JoĆ«lle Delbourgo Associates
  • Arcadia Literary Agency
  • Harvey Klinger
  • APA Talent and Literary Agency
  • Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency
  • Irene Skolnick Literary Agency
  • FinePrint Literary Management
  • Donald Maass Literary Agency

  • There are some big, reputable names there ... but they are all agents who have signed up with Argo Navis ... which has not got a very good record.

    How did it happen? As Gaughran says, "Argo Navis don’t (and won’t) deal with authors directly, and will only accept titles for distribution submitted by literary agents."  And it appears that the people who benefit most (after Argo Navis, of course) are the agents.  Not the authors.

    So, what does Argo Navis offer to these agents?  "Essentially," he says, "Argo Navis are a distributor. They offer a portal through which authors’ work can be distributed to all the various retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Kobo.

    "In exchange for this relatively trivial service, Argo Navis take a 30% cut. You read that right. After the retailer takes their standard cut (usually also 30%), Argo Navis take another 30% before passing on payments."

    And on top of that, the agency takes their 15% commission.  I leave it to you to read the rest.

    With thanks to Rick Spilman.

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