Monday, October 11, 2010

You Really Don't Need An Agent

I've really been thinking about this a lot lately but really, writers don't need an agent. I mean seriously, why would you want to have someone take 10% or 15% of your money from those book sales. Since you already aren't making a lot on the sales anyway, who wouldn't want to keep it all for themself.

Think about this, what is it that an agent does that you can't do yourself.

They sell your book to a publisher Come on, how hard is this? You can find the addresses to all of the editors that you want to submit your story to. You can email them your manuscript or shove it in an envelope, right? Besides, those publishers that claim they only take agented submissions are always signing an author that somehow did it. They had an amazing book and were noticed. Your book is amazing so it can happen for you to.

They negotiate contracts Contracts, schmontracts. You can read contracts and you certainly know what is best for you. If something doesn't look right in the contract, you simply tell them what you want to see. Obviously the publisher liked your book enought to send a contract so that means they're willing to make those changes to keep you happy. Worst case scenario, we all have a friend that is a lawyer so you have them read it to take care of anything the publisher might be doing to "screw you over."

They provide career planning Hey, it's your career, right? You know what you want and where you want to go. You don't need someone to tell you that story idea will work or not work. In the end, it just takes critcal thinking skills.

They edit your work before it goes to the publishers I don't know about you people, but my computer has a spell checker and a grammar checker. When that little wiggly line pops up I just tell the computer to fix it. Anyway, the publishers have copy editors that will take care of all that for us so who needs to worry.

They seem to think stories have to go to "their publishers" You know, it is all a conspiracy to ruin the lives of the writer. The agents are simply helping out their friends who are the editors. Anyway, we all know epublishing is on the rise and we can simply send our projects directly to the book sellers like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Heck, within 72 hours of submitting my project to Pubit! at B&N, I can be selling books.

They provide what they call "inside knowledge" We've all heard these agents talk about their inside knowledge of the business. They claim they are receiving this sacred information directly from the editors about what's hot and what's not. Again, I claim critical thinking skills. I can go to the book stores and see what's selling. I can read blogs from my fellow writers and know what is going on. And on that issue of claiming something is "hot" is all a bunch of garbage. We all know if your story is good, publishers will beg us for it.

So really, why would we want to have an agent?

The fact that:

...they are an advocate for you if something isn't going right with your book.
...they will often get you a new project with an editor simply because the editor asked if they had a writer who could do it might not.
...they do steer you away from projects that could be a career suicide.
...they can call the editors directly.
...they can assist you to bypass that "slush pile."
...they can get you a better deal on each of your new contacts.

Maybe those elements might not be enough to sway you on this, but it should certainly be something to consider. Can you do this without an agent? Sure, but you need to ask yourself. Are you really skipping on the agent because they have all rejected your stories and don't know their behind from a hot rock? Or, are you doing this because you really do believe you can get all of these benefits on your own.

In the end, the choice is always up to you.

The fact that


  1. I'm going the agent way... or trying to. One reason (and it's a biggie) is because most publishers I've seen do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or unagented writers.

  2. I'm looking for an agent because I want someone else on my side. Someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry that I have yet to learn. Obviously everyone would rather keep all the money they earn for themselves, but in some cases, it's worth it to share the wealth if it helps advance your career in the long run. Why wouldn't you want someone advocating for you?

  3. I think an agent would also be someone rooting for you. This is a lonely business, even with conferences and blogs and crit groups. Someone on your side is a valuable asset. I'd write a check for that

  4. Heather and B.R. -
    You are both so right on the money about having someone in your corner. This is a very lonely business and sometimes I think we forget that. A good agent is always going to be there for you, even during the toughest of times.