Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Can Make No Promises

There is this belief that I believe runs around the chat groups and loops that having an agent means success. That overcoming that single hurdle puts a writer one step closer to nailing that publishing contract. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Having an agent does not mean that book will sell. Yes, there are times that even an agent cannot sell that book, no matter how hard he or she tries.

While having an agent might get you into a few publishing houses that were closed to you, it doesn't guarentee that the editors or all those sitting in on the editorial meeting (marketing departments included) will like the book enough to want to buy it. Agents face many of the same challenges you will face when trying to get published.

Maybe the story is just poorly timed. In other words, the editors just signed a book that did just that. Maybe they decided to make a marketing shift in that publishing house on the day the book hits there desk. Who knows? There are just far too many variables.

It is also important to remember that an agent may end up with the same tunnel vision that you had when you wrote the story. They love the project so darn much that even they miss some of the flaws that might cause the story to fail.

The deal is that we can't promise anything other than the fact that we will work as hard as possible to be your advocate and get that book to a contract. That we can promise!



  1. One's agented status may not guarantee publication, but having an agent means having a team.

  2. I agree with Lance. There is a way to guarantee publication - Self-publishing. But for many of us, this isn't the route we want to take.

    With an agent you have someone working just as hard as you are to see your words in print. So even if it never happens at least you can rest easy knowing you both tried your hardest.

  3. A LOT of the established publishing houses are closed to unagented manuscripts. Agents can't guarantee publication, but they can get you past the first, biggest gatekeeper. They also know the ins and outs of contract legalese. This is especially important in today's changing conditions (e-book rights, anyone?).

  4. Yes - a team is good. And knowing someone else believes in you is also good. But it's certainly not the be-all, end-all.

    But it's definitely a step in the right direction :)

  5. I agree that getting an agent is just one step in the many hurdles it takes to get published. I think writers feel successful when they do get the agent because they have someone on their side. Like Lance said, they have a team. There is some validation in knowing someone else (in the pub industry) is rooting for you.

  6. I hate to think of what Scott has had to deal with from disappointed writers who thought it was a sure thing...but I'm sure it won't happen with any of your faithful blog readers!

  7. This is something new that I haven't thought about. Thanks for the info.