We are always asked why you need an agent. Heck, you can now get into most of the major publishing houses without one. Authors are frequently arguing that agents are just there to negotiate a contract and take 15% of your income. If you have read my blogs in the past, you have read that we do a lot more than simply negotiating a contract. Today is a great example of this.
One of my authors was really struggling. She is starting a new project and now her editor wanted something that has not been asked for in prior books. OK, sometimes things like this happen. However, the author had been going through some personal family things recently and was in a situation where she was likely going to say things in an email that she would regret later.
After talking her off the ledge via email, she moved to sending me a draft of an email she wanted to send to make sure it wasn't going to offend people. She sent it. We talked about it. We edited it so it didn't sound bad, and were now able to move forward.
In this case, the role of the agent was there as someone to rant to.
Now, can a critique partner do the same thing? Sure, but now I am part of the three-way conversation with the editor and we are all on the same page.
Remember that the agent is in your corner to cover you back. We are there when those moments happen. If things do escalate, then we bring in the "big guns" to deal with this between agent and editor. In all honesty, since I first started agenting, I have only had to do this one other time.
So, as you are contemplating "agent vs no agent" put this in the PRO column for agents.