I'm the author of a series of six novels. The company that publishes the books offers a small advance and I've made only enough to cover the costs for me to attend a conference in my field once a year. Income does not seem to be increasing, just declining as the books go along.
The publisher has an option on my next work with these characters. I'd rather get out of that option so that I can write another book in the series, if and when I feel like it, and self-publish it as an e-book, thus satisfying my fans, who keep asking about the next book.
I've been considering talking to my agent about this but wonder what would be in it for him? I mean he only makes money if I make money and obviously this cuts him out of the loop. On the other hand, neither he or the publishing company are making much money on my books.
Don't worry about what your agent wants. If this is what you want to do, talk to him about this. He'll explain that self-publishing isn't as much fun or as easy as you may think.
He can also get you out of your option with some cleverness that only agents know how to do.
The question he'll ask is do you want to write another book, and have it NOT go to your current publisher. Because the option is limited ("with these characters") you can write something new that won't be covered by the current option.
Publishers are generally reluctant to let go of options because they want to reap the reward if one of the books suddenly earns a lot of money (think film here.)
If you let the books go out of print, you can get the option cancelled pretty easily.
This is something to discuss with your agent and NOT with your author buddies. The last thing you want is for your publisher to get wind of this before you're prepared to discuss exactly what you want to do.