Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Would It Take for 'The Jackal' to Sell a Book on Amazon? (Hint: It involves kidnapping)

Andrew Wylie, alias "The Jackal" 
Recently, Laura Bennett interviewed the legendary Andrew Wylie (aka "The Jackal') for the New Republic. Wylie is an anomaly among literary agents. He despises commercial fiction, dislikes e-readers (he tossed his Kindle after one day), and is a vociferous proponent of traditional print publishing.

As someone who has been around the block (a few times), and ruffled many feathers (more than a few times), Wylie's take on what is going on in the publishing industry is well worth reading. Here is a snippet of what he thinks about publishing on Amazon.
LB: What would it take to get you to sell a book to Amazon? 
AW: If one of my children were kidnapped and they were threatening to throw a child off a bridge and I believed them, I might.
LB: That sounds reasonable.
For an insider's view of the publishing industry, nothing beats a well-seasoned agent. I encourage you to read this interview - several times.

The Andrew Wylie Rules: How the literary agent still makes millions off highbrow

Interview by Laura Bennett

Among literary agents, Andrew Wylie is as old school as they come. Dubbed “the Jackal” for his aggressive poaching of other people’s clients, his distaste for commercial fiction and his disinterest in social media is legendary. He is the reigning king of the backlist, profiting mainly off classic titles rather than taking risky bets on new ones. His only criterion is enduring quality, and his client list is eye-popping: Amis, Nabokov, Bellow, Rushdie, Roth.

It might seem that Wylie’s single-minded emphasis on highbrow literature would have made him an early casualty of the turmoil in book publishing. Instead, he has thrived—throughout the rise of the mega-bookstores, the emergence of Amazon, and the e-book turf war over digital rights and royalties. In 2010, Wylie launched his own publishing initiative, Odyssey Editions, collaborating with Amazon to release digital editions of major books such as Lolita and Midnight’s Children, bypassing publishers entirely. It was an attempt to pressure publishing houses to offer higher e-royalties to his authors, but after Random House refused to do business with the Wylie Agency, he backed down.

The publishing industry has now arrived at yet another crossroads. Last year, a Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit charged five major publishing houses and Apple with e-book price-fixing, a major victory for Amazon. In July, Random House and Penguin merged to form a corporate colossus that controls a quarter of world book publishing. That has left literary agents scrambling to define their role. Will consolidation mean fewer places to pitch projects or stronger publishers with more purchasing power? Could Amazon succeed in eliminating middlemen entirely?

Read the rest of this enlightening interview HERE.

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