Monday, August 8, 2011

You Don't Need An Agent

I know this might seem like a crazy statement coming from me I do want to stress that in reality, you really don't need an agent to be successful in the business of publishing. Yes, this might seem like I am working myself out of a niche in this business, but let me explain.

If you wish to avoid working with traditional publishers and all of their resources you don't need an agent. Although those traditional publishers have links to great advertising potential and business/marketing departments that can aim your story in the right direction, if you have the knowledge and those connections, you can certainly do this on your own.

Agents do negotiate contracts for you and can make sure you are in the best position for getting the most out of your contracts, but again, if you have the knowledge of those contracts, or maybe you have a connection to a contracts lawyer that understands the publishing business, you can indeed do this on your own.

Another thing you don't need an agent for would be having that additional professional in your corner to deal with those bumps in the road that might create problems with your career. I have often said that having an agent is like having that "good cop/bad cop scenario" working for you. If there is a problem, you let your agent deal with it so you can maintain a great relationship with your editor. But hey, if you don't have those problems, why get the agent.

So what else do agents do that you can do for yourself? They aim you in the righr direction with career planning but you can do that if you are paying attention to the business. They also edit projects before you send them to a publisher, but again, if you have a great critique group backing you, then again, you don't need an agent.

I think the thing to stress here is that for many writers, it is correct - you don't need an agent. This is part of the reason why each of us as agents have specific things we don't represent. For myself, I don't rep people in certain genres because in those cases, there is no need for an agent.

But, if you do need that assistance I talked about above, then maybe an agent is for you.



  1. I also think it's important to consider this: being a writer is lonely work. When you write. you're alone, for most of the day, replaying snippets of dialogue in your head, laughing out loud at your own words, falling in love or getting annoyed with people you've made up. In short, writing is pretty much the same thing as being insane, only it's a controlled, self-inflicted kind of insanity. Having an agent and an editor (or several) is very grounding - they pull you back to shore when you've floated too far off into dreamland, much like a timely hit of your medication of choice will if you're of the other crazy variety. Furthermore - and, to me, most importantly - the mere presence of your agent and your publisher will remind you that you're a professional, not just some nut job alone in a cabin somewhere, drinking too much coffee and talking to ghosts.

  2. That seemed a bit tongue in cheek to me. :) I have to say, after being in this business just for two years...I wouldn't do it without an agent. I mean, if I had a choice.

    Agents do so much more than negotiate contracts. A good one is part of every step--from brainstorming to editing to PR.

    I enjoy your blog, Scott. Great info here.