Sure, having an agent does allow you access to some of your dream publishers that you simply cannot get to without an agent. Sure, having an agent means you have a team working toward getting that book sold. Sure, having an agent does mean that we can call editors, or sit down with editors and really hype up your book. But, this alone is not going to be that guarantee you want.
As shocking as this may seem, even the best of agents out there have projects that never sell. We're not talking about just everyday projects there either. We are talking books that we 100% believed in. Projects that we would sell our first born in exchange for seeing this book sold (well maybe not to that level, but you get the idea).
The point is that despite all of that blood, sweat and tears both the author and the agent put into that project, there are times that the book doesn't sell. It just wasn't the right time.
Now, does this mean that you don't need or want an agent and you should do this on your own? Not necessarily. That is a completely different issue. Your desire to have an agent depends on what you want to do with your career and your personal needs as a writer. This simply means that the agent is not a miracle worker.
The fact that an agent doesn't sell your book cannot be an immediate reflection on the ability of the agent. Remember we have a ton of factors working here that might be the reason the book didn't sell.
- The writing
- The query
- The synopsis
- The subjectivity of the business
- The economy
- The writer's reputation
- ...and yes, the agent is in there too
Just remember, your agent is there for you. They are trying!