Do I Need An Agent?

agentHmmm… this seems to be the question which is bouncing around inside my head the most at the moment. (apart from slightly more important questions about Syria and Lambert for England) I can’t seem to find a solution to it.

There are obviously pros and cons to the problem and depending on the day, the weather, and the tidal pattern, I seem to float between them. It dawned on me that it may help me to discuss the nub of the issue on here, and perhaps my kindred spirits will offer some light.

Pros

  1. Wouldn’t it be good to have an agent? – I’ve always wanted someone in my corner who will back me up and act as a sounding board when I need one.
  2. Industry experience – Isn’t that what agents have in spades? A cynical, ground-down professional who can set me straight when my dreamy, idealist opinions take control.
  3. Making money – Let’s be honest, I’ve said this before, but I’m not in this game just to write words on blank pages. I want a career and an agent can lift me to the next level – can’t they?
  4. Editing and Genre Advise – The nitty gritty of writing and even deciding what story to write in the first place.
  5. Rights and Royalties – Overseas rights, translation rights, TV/Radio/Film.
  6. Publishing Deal – Wouldn’t it be great to actually be a best-seller and sell books in every shop in the world. I can’t do that by whizzing up a story on KDP.
  7. Kudos/Status – I know this is sad and it shouldn’t matter, but it sounds a hell of a lot better to drop in, ‘my agent said…’

Cons

  1. Who can you trust – There’s plenty of shitesters out there who just want to take your money.
  2. I don’t need help to self-publish – A lot of agents who I’ve looked at on the internet seem to offer a package to authors which publishes their book for them through the self-pub routes. I don’t really need that, I’m not 84.
  3. Commission – Although I’m really not bothered by this in the slightest. 15% of sweet FA is fine, and if they make me some money then they’re welcome to the cut.
  4. Value – What will they actually do for me? This, I suppose, is the over-arching problem.

So, what I need to do is research the problem much more than I have so far. I’ve heard of other self-published authors who have a new breed of agent who work for them in this new world. They strike up traditional deals whilst still keeping digital sales separate. Is this the promised land? Is this even true?

The one problem with being self-published is the marketing and promotion. The internet resembles a gigantic brass band with thousands of writers blowing their own trumpets, and I don’t see the value in just puckering up and blowing along with them.

If you have any thoughts, or even experience, on this topic then please let me know because I haven’t the foggiest. Be prepared for a few more posts on this as I move on, and hopefully they’ll be more informative than me just writing like a headless chicken.

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5 responses to “Do I Need An Agent?

  1. Michael, I think it can’t hurt to try to acquire an agent. I attended a writer’s conference a few months ago and learned about an interesting trend that’s gaining ground: agent facilitated self publishing. I listened to an agent/author duo who presented on the topic. The author had chosen to self publish, but the agent was assisting her with industry knowledge, and pretty much all the “pros” points you addressed above. Could be the marriage of two ideals for you. Perhaps worth investigating more.

  2. I sent out about twenty queries to agents and the only responses that I got were automated ones–I don’t think that any of them actually read the samples that I sent them. And those were agents who specifically said that they were accepting submissions of Science Fiction/Fantasy novels.

    That was when I was planning to be traditionally published–an agent can help get a book deal with a traditional publisher, but that is about all they do. For a self-publisher, an agent has nothing to offer.

  3. In principle I think an agent would help you concentrate on the writing side of things. Right now you’re inclined to be distracted by the publishing processes and that’s sapping energy from the creative process. Your USP in all of this is the writing…….let others deal with the other stuff…….at least until you know a lot more about the publishing world. So that’s my 5 pennysworth of contribution to the debate.
    Oh, and for reference, a certain artist will be arriving here on Monday afternoon!

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