Earlier this week literary agent Colleen Lindsay started a great discussion on Twitter by asking how things would change if agents started charging based on billable hours (much of the discusssion is collected here #agentpay) rather than commission. Part of the point is that as publishers seem to be offloading their responsibilities agents have seen theirs expand without an equal increase in pay. Of course at the same time authors advances seem to be going down (unless of course you are Sarah Palin. WTF?!!!) so they probably don't want to pick up any additional costs.
So what to do?
Thankfully the internets have allowed a number of smart people to chime in on the subject. I particularly like the point-counterpoint pieces Digital Book World have provided. One, by Victoria Strauss, founder of Writer Beware, is titled 'Are Agents Due for a Raise?' The other, by Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest, is titled 'Agents Need to Develop Alternative Models.' Both make some great points so read them. For the record, I couldn't agree more with Jane's title (as for Victoria's lead question: yes please!).
Kidlit.com also has some interesting thoughts on paying agents by the hour. As do KT Literary, author Jodi Meadows, and the people at Wylie-Merrick Literary (this is the internets after all).
Now I want to know what you think?