What do agents you REALLY think about self-publishing? Because, based on my obsessive reading of your blog, you don’t think highly of it. But is this just how you feel, or how all agents feel?
I think self-publishing is a terrific opportunity for writers whose work doesn't meet the demands of general trade publishing. I do not say that dismissively or imply that their work is of lesser value.
Quite the contrary. I think self-publishing is one of the things that will save historians in the future. I've written about that before and I continue to hold that position.
Here's what I don't think self-publishing will do:
1. Serve as the farm team for trade publishing. First, publishing doesn't need a farm team. Second, If you're self publishing you're missing the key aspects of a good farm system: practice and coaching. If anything fan fiction will serve as the farm team for publishing, much as the pulps did in the 30s.
2. Replace the curated publishing industry. There's a reason publishing is an industry and that's because it generally produces better books, and books more people want to read than one person working alone. If that wasn't true, publishing would have died centuries ago. Writers mostly don't want to design books, or write flap copy or book themselves on Jerry Springer. They want to be left alone to write. They want it so much they're willing to give up a significant portion of proceeds from the sale of their book to do so. Publishers add value to what a writer does, but a writer also pays for the benefit of not doing everything him/herself.
3. Show the publishing industry all the things people want to read that can't get past the "gatekeepers." I know of two books that qualify for that. Do you know any? (If so, please list in the comment column)
If anything, the mail I get shows that authors who self-published realized it's a helluva lot harder than the nostrum salespeople told 'em and they'd like to get back to the tried and true way of leaping in over the transom.
I think self-publishing is great, but I don't think it's a game changer.
All other agents should agree with me of course, but you'll have to ask them.