Literary Agency Sells 520 Books In One Deal, Raising Questions

Editor’s Note: while most Publetarians are indie authors and small imprint owners, this article is still worth a very close look from all of us. It touches on the indie authors’ and small imprints’ new competitors, companies which are a hybrid of literary agency and publisher. Plenty of indies have a mainstream-published backlist, and those indies need to be particularly wary of the kinds of business practices revealed in this article.

This article, by David Gaughran, originally appeared on his Let’s Get Digital site on 10/19/11.

Last week, Curtis Brown (UK) signed a deal for 520 of their authors’ backlist titles to be published by Pan Macmillan’s new imprint Macmillan Bello.

120 titles will be released between November and the end of the year, with 400 more coming in 2012, and the books will be available in both digital and POD formats.


Regular readers might remember that, in May, Curtis Brown were considering a move into publishing after fellow-agent Ed Victor launched his own imprint Bedford Square Books.

At the time, Jonathan Lloyd, the managing director of Curtis Brown, was quoted by The Bookseller as saying, “Where Ed Victor leads, others follow – and we are right behind him, but with a rather larger list.”

However, Mr. Lloyd may not have expected what happened next. Ed Victor’s move created a firestorm, with angry reaction from publishers, authors, and even other agents – including calls for his expulsion from the UK’s representative body, the Author’s Association of Agents (scroll down to comments for quote)

In addition, later that month, one of the first UK agents to move into publishing – Sonia Land – was dramatically cut out of a publishing deal by one of her own authors – Tom Sharpe – who made a backlist deal directly with his publisher.

It seems that Curtis Brown decided to rethink their move into publishing.

Instead, they have announced a deal to sell 520 books en masse to a new imprint owned by Pan Macmillan created especially to house these books. Naturally, with a deal of this size and nature, questions are being asked. Here is what Passive Guy (a lawyer) had to say:


Read the rest of the article on David Gaughran‘s Let’s Get Digital site.