If you look over to the side <---- thataways, you'll see blogs we read and Courtney Milan is there. Check out her recent blog posts about agents becoming publishers. Then go over to the Bookends blog and read about how they (agents) are becoming publishers without publishing anything.
Then you can check out JA Konrath's blog and read how any author who doesn't self publish is a ninny-head and then watch him not address the fac that he signed a contract with Amazon's new publishing arm and isn't self-publishing anymore.
Oh, while you're at it, check out Facebook. Almost every one of the 200+ authors I see there are self-pubbing, epubbing and still trying to get agents.
If you're a newbie author, or possibly any author, you have to realize that publishing has changed and nobody at all knows what's what anymore.
I've been looking at it all and reading and thinking and I had a few realizations.
** There is no perfect model. Some people will find the standard of agent and New Yawk house is the ideal and they're going to be happy. Some will self-pub. Some will stick to the epubs. They will all disagree about what way is best.
** Most of them won't make money, anyway.
** If you choose to self-pub, you can easily hire an editor moderately cheap and a cover artist moderately cheap. (If you need either, drop me a note here and I can connect you with both. And both are brilliant.) Formatting is relatively easy to do or again you can hire out.
** Promo sucks and that, in my opinion, is where the money can be made by a savvy person.
Seriously, I would happily pay someone to take promo off my hands. Give me an option of flat fees to send my book to reviewers, to arrange blog tours, to do the things for sales that I'm just not going to bother with and you have a client. Actually, you have two because I know Carolyn will pay for that also.
Agents becoming publishers aren't editing books, aren't getting cover art done, they aren't formatting. What are they doing? Nada. But they'll happily take 15% of your sales forever to do it for you.
If agents became marketing sources, or promo Goddesses, they would find a new venue and a lot of happy clients.
Authors are trying to discover the right path for themselves nowadays. Agents need to discover new paths also and those shouldn't involve ripping off clients because they don't know what to do.
Learn how to be useful. And you'll find people happy to pay for it.
And as an aside: if there are author promo services who do the majority of the promo for the author, tell us about it. I'd be fascinated to check them out.