Something not quite so lovely occurred on Twitter the other day. But it was also kind of quiet. Once of those things where people get into conversations with certain expectations that lead them into assumptions. Let me explain. It might be convoluted because I don't want to name names.
(Though if you know me and want to email to ask, I'll tell you who it is.)
So there's this agent who's been on Twitter for a while. We'll call him Tom. He seemed pleasant, said interesting things, didn't seem to rep what I write. I didn't follow him all that closely, but we exchanged comments a couple of times. About e-publishing, now that I think of it.
Well, then he turns up the other day - same avatar, which is the little picture that appears next to the words, in this case a headshot - but a different "handle. Where he used to be AgentTom, now he's eTom. My friend, Kerry, pointed out to me what was going on. He was holding forth on Twitter bashing traditional publishing and even agenting.
He said a lot of stuff. How agents and traditional publishers only want authors with huge platforms - like celebrities and that chick from Jersey Shore. Thousands and thousand of Twitter followers, he says. A couple of writer-friends of ours had engaged him in conversation at this point. What caught Kerry's attention was when he said:
Don Maass is not going to take anyone on unless he can make a buck from their work. No platform, no Don.
When several people mentioned that Donald Maass, who is a very well respected agent, has recently offered representation to friends, he said:
He might be taking them on but that doesn't mean they will be published or if they are, it won't be big time.
Jen Jackson runs Don Maass Literary. I don't think Don is that active anymore. Don't know for sure tho.
So, Kerry mentioned that we have a good friend who is recently represented by the very active Don, she has fewer than 200 followers on Twitter and is doing quite well with her series. This is a warning flag, when someone in the industry is saying things you know aren't true. Doesn't matter who he is.
Which he pretty much ignored. Because by this point, after he'd painted this very grim picture, he got to his actual point: the beauty, the glamor, the sheer profitability of E-PUBLISHING.
Now, I have nothing against e-publishing. I've published a book with an e-press and I've been pleased with the results. (I showed some yesterday.) That's not the problem.
The issue is that he's become "eTom" because he's left agenting and become an acquiring editor for an e-press. You can see this on his profile. If you go to this e-press website, you can see it's totally new, with lots of references to "us" and that it's an imprint of another press. Which sounds fairly reputable - okay, new e-imprint of an established press, there's a lot of that going around these days - until you look at the press and notice it has the same last name as Tom.
This is, in fact, entirely eTom's business. His new publishing venture and he's recruiting authors by playing on their fears, saying a traditionally published book takes three years, pays nothing and they'd never take you if you don't have a huge platform anyway.
This makes me mad because IT IS NOT TRUE.
Allison, for example. She's told her story in other places, but to recap: it was just over a year ago that the editor who read Allison's full manuscript for a contest offered her a contract. Allison was able to pick from three agents, one of whom landed her a better contract with another publisher and the book is coming out in January. That is a true story. This is her first book, she has no platform, practically no name recognition and less than a thousand twitter followers.
Maybe most of you reading this are nodding your heads and saying yeah, yeah, yeah - we know. But it alarmed both me and Kerry to see so many earnest authors engaging with eTom and swallowing his lies.
If you want to do e-publishing, great - do it! But don't sign with just anyone. Don't let them make you feel desperate. Do your research. Pay attention to their motives.
Never sell yourself short. Especially to the guy who says it's your only chance.