Do you need an agent? Is it still possible to get published without one?
Jason posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
I enjoy reading your novels very much. As an aspiring writer, I have completed my first novel. How important, if at all should a writer have a literary agent? Your advice would be much appreciated.
Randy sez: That depends on what your goals are.
If you want to publish your novel with a traditional, royalty-paying publisher, then you desperately need an agent. It’s possible to sell your book to a publisher without one (by pitching your novel at writing conferences), but even if you sell your novel, you still need to negotiate the contract. My agent friends tell me that a lot of publishers have changed their contracts massively in the last year — in a way that is far more favorable to the publisher. This has forced agents to spend a lot of time negotiating terms to get a decent deal for their authors. If you don’t have an agent, you probably won’t have any idea what’s important and what’s not. Even if you have great negotiating skills, those will do you no good if you don’t know what to demand.
If you decide to self-publish (either in print or in e-books), then you don’t need an agent — yet. However, if your book does well as a self-pubbed book, then eventually you’ll want to publish it with a traditional, royalty-paying publisher. In that case, (see above), you’ll need an agent. When you need one, get one.
A quick note on the obvious question — what’s the advantage of working with a traditional, royalty-paying publisher? The answer is that those are the people who will get you into Barnes & Noble, Borders, Costco, and all the other bookstores. Good luck doing that on your own.
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.