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Jason Ashlock Imagines “Radical Mediation” As Future of Literary Agenting

Asserting that the term “indie author” doesn’t accurately describe authors who are embracing the digital revolution, literary agent Jason Ashlock outlined his plan for “radical mediation” as an agent in the 21st century publishing world.

At the  O’Reilly Tools of Change Author Revolution conference in New York today, Ashlock, the founder of Movable Type Management, spoke about his three-pronged approach to representing authors in the modern publishing world.

First, he suggested that “publishing is a team sport.” He said that the radical mediator agent should not be narrow but should be expansive and looking at any possible intermediaries that will connect readers with authors. He said that agents in today’s marketplace should think of themselves in a business development position, as opposed to a sales positions. He advised thinking about lifespans as opposed to title-by-title marketing.

Ashlock’s second idea is what he called, “assisted self-publishing,” in which an agency takes author management and merges that with business development to help the author. The idea is that the agent would oversee licensing agreements, and also educate authors about how to use self-publishing tools and would help with online marketing. Under this model, Ashlock explained that the author remains in control but the agent brings ideas to the table.

Ashlock’s final idea of the future of agenting is the agent/publishing house. Using literary agent Scott Waxman and his imprint Diversion Books as an example, Ashlock suggested that a “discreet publishing community run by an agent” could be the way of the future. If agents do job their correctly, they will know the author better than publishers or publicists, said Ashlock. “They only players in game that can dislodge themselves for purpose of sticking with you in the long haul,” he concluded.

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