Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Victims of the Penguin & Random House Merger: Literary Agents

Nov 27, 2012 - Ella Delany - The Book Beast

The middlemen between writers and publishers are concerned they’ll be squeezed by the upcoming merger of giants Penguin and Random House.

Literary agents are the middlemen between writers and publishing houses. Manuscripts go to agencies, akin to actors sending off a portfolio. Agents sift hundreds of submissions and pitch them to publishers, negotiating a price for the ones accepted while taking a cut of the advance and royalties. They’ve been a vital link in the chain, but the recently announced merger between two giant publishers, the Penguin Group and Random House, may affect literary agents in dramatic ways.
Andy Rain / EPA / Landov
Challenging writing that requires editorial investment or lacks bestseller appeal will become even more difficult for agents to place after the Penguin Random House merger.
 One single publishing house usually contains multiple imprints with distinct identities and tastes. Agents typically pitch one book to one imprint at one house, although the exact rules differ from publisher to publisher. The rule at Penguin is that agents cannot pitch to multiple imprints within the group; imprints cannot bid against each other for the same manuscript. At Random House, imprints can bid against each other as long as they are not in the same immediate group. After the Penguin Random House merger, agents could see pitching options abruptly diminished if Penguin's rules are retained in the new conglomerate. Markus Dohle, who will serve as the new CEO of Penguin Random House if the deal is approved, sent out a letter in late October in an attempt to reassure agents that editorial diversity would be maintained. “In this new partnership with Penguin, we will be retaining the distinct identities of both companies’ imprints,” Dohle promised. “You and your clients will benefit from an extraordinary breadth of publishing choices, and editorial talents and experience.”

Full article at The Book Beast

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