Too Soon To Tell: The Writer, Agent Publisher Panel

As things eBookSummit100x100.gifgot going on the eBook Summit Writer, Agent, Publisher panel moderated by GalleyCat’s Jason Boog, Steve Wasserman of Kneerim & Williams asked, “how do you cut through the noise of sulture and get attention for a deserving work?” Brendan Cahill of Open Road claimed his new company was fighting that noise by revitalizing writers from the past.

Movable Type Literary Group, founded ten months ago by agent Jason Allen Ashlock (who threatened to tweet about the audience from on stage while they tweeted about him from the seats), sees its role as going far beyond the deal itself. Ashlock characterized the book deal as a catapult, “an open thing for what it might produce that is not a traditional book.”

The topic of last week’s Random House rights grab came up early. Wasserman said he is with the authors and went as far as comparing Random House to conquistadors laying claim to huge territories. He also weighed in on the threat to indie bookstores of ecommerce, an issue that’s hardly new–many on Twitter weighed in to disagree. Ashlock took on the issue of publishers changing the meaning of their contracts: “this isn’t a war with the publisher… but publishers are changing boilerplate without letting us know.”

Going deeper into eBook delays, Ashlock said it’s a “stalling tactic,” not a viable long-term strategy. He compares publishers initiating delays to AT&T telling customers they use too much bandwidth, meaning they are telling their customers to want less of what they’re selling. Wasserman, however, said ultimately the delays are not as big a deal as everyone is making them out to be.

There were also a couple of good one-liners. In a much retweeted moment, Wasserman said what may become a famous line: “I suppose we could sum up this entire two-day conference under the headline ‘too early to tell.'” A bit later, Open Road’s Cahill chimed in to say that while in the digital era all things may be possible, they may not necessarily be profitable.