From agent Rachelle Gardner:
These days, authors are carefully considering the merits of self-publishing versus traditional publishing, and many are doing both at once.
. . . .
I’m having almost daily conversations with my clients, most of whom are already traditionally published, about various ways they can extend their brands, increase their income and/or grow their readership by self-publishing e-books “on the side.” I’m coming across some interesting questions during these discussions. One that I’ve been hearing lately comes from authors trying to figure out how they can make the most money with their next book: through traditional or self-pub. They’re trying to estimate potential e-book sales vs. potential advance from a regular publisher.
. . . .
If their agent shops the book and gets a publishing offer from a reputable house, but the advance is lower than the author wants, can the author reject the offer, take back the book, and self-publish it?
Technically, the answer is usually “yes” unless the author/agent agreement stipulates otherwise. If I shop a project, you are within your rights to reject any offers and take the project back. But it’s important to realize that it puts agents in the position of spending hours and weeks and months on something for which they’ll never be compensated.
. . . .
Agents already spend time shopping projects that won’t sell, and we’ll never get paid for that work. We understand this, and it’s a risk we take. But to have the added pressure of “Even if I DO sell it, the author might reject the sale and I still won’t get paid,” is kind of unreasonable. So in the interest of not wasting your agent’s time and avoiding purposely derailing their attempt to make a living, it’s a good idea to have some specific idea up front of what you will and won’t accept—and talk to your agent about it.
Link to the rest at Rachelle Gardner
Passive Guy will suggest that no author should ever sign an agency agreement that doesn’t give the author the absolute and unfettered right to decline any publishing contract the agent presents.
There can be plenty of reasons other than the amount of the advance that an author who wants to earn a living as a writer will not want to sign some of the “standard” publishing agreements that are these days.