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Sep 26 / King Kaufman

“The author’s all that matters now”: An agent on the ebook publishing biz

We haven’t talked much lately about ebooks, but we’re going to today.

I like talking about ebooks because they’re one of the most intriguing avenues for people to make some money in the writing racket.

PBS Mediashift ran an interview last week with literary agent and multimedia book packager Jason Ashlock, who seems to have boundless enthusiasm about ebooks.

Interviewer Jenny Shank writes that she noticed something about Ashlock when she first saw him on a panel about the future of book publishing:

He lacked that black cloud of doom floating over his head that many people involved in the book industry tend to cower under these days.

Ashlock, who makes his living as a literary agent and multimedia book packager, was downright chipper even as he discussed the demise of bookstores, book reviews, and the traditional publishing model. Why is he so upbeat? Instead of worrying about what’s been lost, he focuses on capitalizing on the new enthusiasm among readers that the advent of e-books has created.

In the interview, Ashlock discusses the collapse of the traditional bookselling industry, saying, “We cheer on booksellers that are able to reinvent themselves as community gathering places and event spaces. But the hard truth is that the brick-and-mortar booksellers no longer hold the positions of influence in the lives of most readers that they once did.”

Because of that, Ashlock notes, traditional publishers are in trouble: “All of the efficiencies they built into their model now aren’t quite so important, and new inefficiencies are introduced with every new technology, every shift in social media, and every consumer trend.”

But here’s the good news for the scribbling crowd:

I have the luxury of being optimistic because my position in publishing is as close as you can get to the author, and that’s the best place to be … The farther you stand from the author, the more danger you’re in. The author’s all that matters now—the author and the reader. Everybody in the middle is in a period of redefinition.

If Ashlock’s right that the only people who matter in the publishing game now are the author and the reader, that’s great news for authors.

So what are you going to write about?

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  • Matt Saccaro

    Heh. I actually have an e-book, it’s not sports related though.