We hear about all these changes in the industry with people being laid-off. What do you see happening in the future?
Well, first of all, I don't see why all these talented people who were laid off at the publishing houses haven't put their differences aside and brainstormed a way to form their own companies rather than being at the mercy of a media conglomerate.
I forsee in the very near future a large percentage of authors skipping the entire agent to publisher route and publishing their books as ebooks directly. This could be through Kindle or whatever the IPod for books will be.
I forsee them hiring outside experienced editors, publicists/e-marketers and book cover designers (perhaps some of these talented people that were laid off?)
There will always be the scared authors who'd rather stay under the umbrella of an agent or a publishing house but the other half who "get it", those that realize they need to be more than just authors and more like author-preneurs will take the reigns in their career.
Does this mean that we will no longer need agents if authors choose to simply upload their books on a Kindle type device? Not for the really smart agents who will expand beyond representing simply the World & Foreign Print Rights and realize the real money will be in representing the authors as a whole entity. This will mean agents representing them for their speaking fee tours, sponsorship packages, film and television, web content and all the other ways author-preneurs can make money.
Other authors will opt to simply hire an IP attorney to negotiate and make sure their rights are exploited properly. They may hire an outside firm at a flat rate to take care of the other money-making opportunities, along with their outside editors, publicist/e-marketers (once again, likely with some of these talented laid-off people). Perhaps literary agencies and managements companies who have not done so already, will restructure their companies to include such services or merge or co-represent authors for these other services all-inclusive.
And if were an agency I would think of a way to start representing these recently laid-off editors, book designers, sales people, etc. and somehow have a division (without dealing with conflict of interest issues) to start procuring more work for them as freelancers.