Author Joanna Penn Hires Agent Despite Self-Publishing Success

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Self-publishers Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright bring entertainment to the writing world with their Self Publishing Podcast.

Self Publishing Podcast

The biggest thing I look forward to,” she says, “is finding an editor. Having an agent helps me target editors who work with the authors I love.

Although the "Self-Publishing Podcast" encourages writers to publish their own work, hosts Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright recognize that their advice can also help those who wish to take the more traditional route.

In their 18th episode, they interview Joanna Penn, author of what she calls a “Dan-Brown-meets-Lara-Croft” ARKANE thriller series.  Despite self-publishing ARKANE books "Pentecost" and "Prophecy" and selling nearly 50,000 copies between the two, Penn announced she had decided to hire a literary agent to help her sell her series to a traditional publisher.

Penn feels that, among other things, this decision will help her work reach a higher level of professionalism. “The biggest thing I look forward to,” she says, “is finding an editor. Having an agent helps me target editors who work with the authors I love.

“The other aspect is print. I’m comfortable with eBooks, but I don’t like doing print.” Working with an agent and publisher will help her expand her presence to the print world.

Johnny B. Truant, who struggled with the politics of publishers for years before his success as a self-published author, recognizes that when trying to break into the world of traditional publishing, independent authors like Joanna Penn have a significant advantage.

“First off,” Truant says, “it’s no longer a do-or-die situation where you need to get an agent. The books are selling on their own, so you don’t need to be desperate. And second, the days of getting discovered out of the blue are over. Traditional publishers don’t want to talk to you unless you have a platform and an audience already, and self-publishing is a great way to create that. It makes you more of a sure bet and it gives you more control.”

And Penn stresses that having that control is a critical part of finding the right agent. " With many of the agents I talked to,” she says, “the contract could be read that if I put out a self-published book that made a million dollars, they would get a percentage of that because they represented me as an author."

Fortunately, by already having established herself as a successful, self-published writer, Penn had more leverage to set the terms of her contract. She ultimately chose an agent who provided the best of both worlds, enabling her to experience the advantages of traditional publishing while allowing her to continue to self-publish and retain exclusive rights to her self-published work.

Check out the "Self Publishing Podcast" for more information about the industry.

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