Monday, January 21, 2013

The "Do I Need An Agent" Controversy

I spent some time this last weekend doing a little exploring on the internet. I plugged in the phrase "Do I need an agent?" in my trusty old search engine to see what came up. In all honesty, I did believe the answer I was going to find, more often than not, was a resounding NO! With the rise of all the opportunities for authors in publishing lately, this seemed like it was going to be the answer holding the majority of spots on the search. Wow, I was wrong...

But, before you think I started jumping all around with this, I continued reading and the answers I saw in greater detail proved to be right on the money.

It all depends...

The common thread I saw running through each of these articles, blog posts and interviews all returned to the same thing. Is it possible to succeed in this business without an agent? The answer is a resounding yes. But to do so requires an author of a certain mindset and personality. And, on the opposite side of the equation, those people wanting an agent are also of a certain mindset and personality.

If you have the knowledge of contracts and negotiations, you don't necessarily need on.
If you have a network of people you can work with to bounce ideas off of, you don't need on.
If you want someone to take away some of the burden of publishing so you can write, you do need one.

I could go on and on with this but I think you get the idea here.

Before any writer jumps into this business, simply take the time to assess your needs, your focus and your desires as a writer. Make lists and really look at it. Once you have done so, THEN make that decision about agents.

Agents are not for everyone. But they are there for those who need them for the direction they want to take their careers.


  1. I would like to have an agent, because of my lack of people skills, and lack of vision affecting my editing skills (commas and periods look identical on the computer screen).

    However, finding an agent who will work with a special needs author? Ha! Why, when they can have 10,000 with perfect vision and no health problems at the snap of a finger?

    I'd have a better chance of becoming president, far fewer people try for that than to be a traditionally published author. And that is one goal i would never try for!

  2. April,

    Check out tomorrow's post. I think you will find that there are a ton of agents out there that can help. As far as the special needs issue? There are always ways to work through that!

  3. I place myself firmly in the needs/wants an agent category. No head for business. Numbers mean very little to me. Contracts confound me.

    But... is there such a thing as waiting too long to query agents? I've been working with an editor at a big house(HQN) on revising my manuscript(not a sale yet, but a relationship already established), would it be a faux pas to query agents with the same manuscript?

  4. I've self-published eight books in my own name and pen names and I've found the journey has ranged from exhilarating (when the words and story are flowing) to frustrating (usually something technical, like formatting). But since I've had and have a professional position in my day job I can appreciate the background and knowledge that comes from education and experience. Too bad there's so much negative information out there about the publishing industry. You didn't mention the trust factor but I think that's a big one.

  5. Amalie,

    Good question. You need to contact the agent when YOU are ready. Please note that if you do contact one after you have already exhausted all of the potential publishers then there isn't much that can be done with that particular project. In terms of this project, there isn't a problem with contacting an agent. If the agent likes it enough they can often jump in to the middle of the conversation with the editor and see what can be done.

  6. Cynthia,

    You are right, trust is an issue.