Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wicked Wednesday - do you need an agent?

This is a big question a lot of writers are asking themselves these days. Ten years ago, my answer to this question would have been an emphatic yes. These days, there are several more options available to authors and many who don't have agents have a lot of success.

Let's look at both sides.

Why you need an agent:
- if you want to publish with a press that doesn't accept unsolicited manuscripts, you need an agent.
- if you want to publish with one of the big presses, an agent with the right connections can get your manuscript to the right editor and move it to the front of the queue.
- agents are honest critique partners. They want you to polish your manuscript to make it its best because they have to sell it.
- agents will negotiate your contract terms with a publisher. It's in the agent's interest to get big royalties and advances. (After all, an agent makes about 15% of what the writer makes.)

Why you don't need an agent:
- you have to pay the agent whatever percentage you agreed upon when you sell your book. No agent = more royalties for you.
- agents and big publishers put your book through a lot of hoops before it's ready for the market. What they do in three years, you can do in less than one year if you self-publish.
- there are several self-promotion opportunities on the internet. Build your fan base.
- you can be your own boss. You aren't under contract and you don't have a legal deadline. You have control over what you want to do with your manuscript.

Whatever route you choose, always do your research. Watch out for scammers. Know everything you can about the agent or publisher you're sending your manuscript to.

In the past, I tried to get an agent, but had no luck. Since then, I've been to several writing seminars and I've done a lot of research. My life has changed and I have different priorities. Right now, I choose not to actively seek an agent. I want to give it a try without one. It'll be hard work, but I'm ready for the challenge.

Do you want an agent or are you pushing forward without one? Why did you make that decision?

12 comments:

  1. Excellent weigh up of the pros and cons of having an agent.

    I want to find an agent, but I'm open to that plan changing in the future.

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    1. I'm open to a change in the future too. I'd like to have someone take care of a good deal of the business end for me. I'd prefer to concentrate on writing, but I don't think it as difficult these days for people to sell themselves without an agent.

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  2. I didn't even look for an agent - I went straight to querying publishers. I'd probably still be querying if I hadn't done that.

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    1. Might be true. Some genres are harder to sell to agents, but getting the right publisher helps.

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  3. I haven't decided what to do yet. My book is short for traditional publishers. We shall see. You make a lot of good points for both sides.
    Heather

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    1. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

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  4. querying agents is a learning process, if it doesnt happen i may go direct to a smaller publisher

    i dont want to do it all by myself, i want professional help!
    wait, i mean for publishing & marketing!

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    1. It definitely is a learning process. I've queried so many agents, it boogles my mind! I'd like to have help too, but I like the idea of being my own boss at the moment. Maybe if things get bigger for me with my writing.

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  5. Great post and so very true! Having an agent has gotten my manuscripts read by some of the biggies, but no luck yet. Dawn did introduce me to Entangled Publishing, which was a big career jump for me, so I owe her a lot.

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    1. You've got a wonderful agent. Cherie says nice things about her as well.

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  6. You're so right... it sometimes depends on what's going on in our lives... I'm a big believer that life sometimes takes us down paths for varied reasons:) Got to do what feels right at the time.

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    1. I hope there's some reason! I'm going with what's good for me right now. Maybe one day that will change and I'm cool with that. :)

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