Do Agents Publishing E-books Have a Conflict of Interest?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka

“Anything that an agent can do to extend their services, backing their author, is valid,” argues agent Ed Victor, whose Bedford Square Books begins releasing titles this fall.
Swing Your Sword

Waxman's Diversion issued Mike Leach's Swing Your Sword as an e-book while it was still a New York Times bestseller

By Edward Nawotka

Today’s feature story notes the fact that e-book distribution platform MintRight has recently worked with Folio Literary Management to bring backlist titles of some of its clients online. “This is very different from some of the other agency ventures into digital publishing,” said MintRight CEO Stanislav Mamonov. “When an agent such as Scott Waxman establishes his own digital imprint that creates a conflict of interest, the agent cannot represent both sides –- the author and the digital imprint — at the same time.”

Last year, when Andrew Wiley announced he would release 20 titles as e-books exclusively through Amazon, under the imprint Odyssey Editions, it sent publishers into a tizzy as they saw themselves being bypassed by the agent. This year several agents have followed suit, venturing into publishing e-books on their clients behalf. These include the aforementioned Scott Waxman, who launched Diversion Books, and Ed Victor, whose Bedford Square Books will begin issuing books this fall.

Agents, such as Peter Cox of Redhammer in London, have compared Victor’s move into publishing as being akin to “a fox in the hen-house.” Concerns have been raised over conflicts of interest. “But is it a conflict of interest?,” Victor told Publishing Perspectives. “I don’t think so. I think anything that an agent can do to extend their services, backing their author, is valid.”

What do you think?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.