authors, book marketing, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

What I heard from agents at the Writer’s Digest conference might surprise you.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Writers Digest conference. It was additional evidence that the Indie Publishing revolution is in full swing. Here are some of the highlights of what I heard
  • Agents are changing their tune and their role in publishing
I sat in on a panel called, “Ask the Agent”. It was very well attended and the agents on the panel did an excellent job. Some of their quotes that stood out to me, included
“I don’t believe there is a one size fits all for authors any more.
“I am working extensively with self published authors. I am delighted to work with them.”
“I don’t call myself an agent any more. I call myself an “author advocate”
It wasn’t that long ago that agents would not even give self publishing a mention, but clearly the changes in the past few years have caused them to see they must redefine their role in the publishing ecosystem and embrace what self-publishing brings to the industry and the market. Authors took notice. There was lots of interest at the Abbott Press booth. Abbott is the self publishing imprint of Writers Digest.
  • Marketing is really the authors job

In the same panel discussion mentioned above agents also talked about how marketing is really falling more and more to the author. In fact one agent, said “publishers are looking for authors to be partners in marketing.” That means authors must build their platforms.  I liked the definition one agent gave for a platform. He said, “a platform is a built-in audience for your book.”

  • Social media presence is a must-have for an author

It used to be the first thing an agent did was read the manuscript or query letter. Now, when they receive something from an author, the first thing many agents do is is google the author’s  name and look for a social media presence. That’s because authors have to be part of the marketing process and connect with potential readers. The days of just writing and letting everybody else do everything else are long gone. No matter how good of writer you are, you need to become a good marketer.

  • All the changes and choices are a good thing, but they are also confusing

It truly is the best time to be an author, but all these choices  can create challenges. One agent responded to a question from an author by sayin, “You are in good company. We are all overwhelmed”. I appreciated his honesty, but there is help. One of the best things I think an author can do is subscribe to the Author Learning Center.

Overall, it was a very good conference. Lots of great content. Good collection of authors with a variety of experiences. I look forward to attending again next year


Self published books have to be better than traditional books according to one agent to get noticed.
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8 thoughts on “What I heard from agents at the Writer’s Digest conference might surprise you.

    • keithogorek says:

      I am glad you have enjoyed it. I have some interesting posts in the works including what do traditional publishers look for in self published titles.

  1. It’s interesting to hear how agents are changing their tune on self-publishing authors. But the comment that self-published books must be better than traditionally published ones to get noticed is, in my opinion, questionable. Many (or most?) indie authors have tried to get noticed by an agent and were overlooked. And if their books succeed? Who’s to blame that the business slipped through the fingers of the trad publishers?

  2. Great post. It definitely reinforces the fact publishing is changing and the “big wigs” need to get onboard this train because it ain’t stoppin’. I’ve been indie publishing for two years and love it. Unless an agent comes with an offer I can’t refuse (i.e., retain my ebook rights), I won’t be seeking the services of an agent in the near future–and this coming from someone who was under contract with TWO agents at one point.

    • keithogorek says:

      Thanks for the reinforcement. Agents still have a role, but it is changing. None of this should be too surprising. Three years ago I wrote a white paper that declared their was an Indie Revolution taking place in publishing. It is cool to see it come to fruition. Lead on.

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