I’d hate to be a traditional literary agent these days. Traditional publishers keep consolidating, so there are far fewer outlets for them to serve as guardians at the gates. One interesting observation I read recently pointed to the fact that a very high percentage of these agents are women in roughly the same age range (25-45). What that means is far less variety in what whets their appetites. I received a rejection from one female literary agent who actually used the word alas. I think she’s been reading much too many romance novels although she professed to be an expert in YA fiction.
Lately I’ve been exploring the world of Indie publishers. Some have found niches where they can be reasonably successful. They tend to specialize in specific genres such as mysteries, romances, or science fiction. The trick is to differentiate the legitimate guys from the POD presses that claim to be legitimate but wind up charging fees at the back-end or stealing writers’ rights. I submitted manuscripts to a couple of these guys without realizing who they really were. The results were that I received slavish praise and contract offers. It felt great until I realized they would applaud anything that they received from a warm body with a checking account. One contract I received would have given the publisher first looks at my next three books. If they accepted my next book, then their horizon would have gone out even further.
The other interesting development is the rise of the digital publisher. I’ve discovered several that only care about publishing ebook editions. It’s an interesting niche because then the question becomes what can these publishers do for me that I can’t do for myself by just self-publishing on Amazon. A UK digital publisher offered terms of 50% on royalties. Since It’s easy to self-publish ebooks to Kindle and iPads, once again you have to wonder what a digital publisher brings to the table to earn 50% of the profits.