Monday, February 8, 2010

Do we really need an agent??

I have read a lot lately about unpublished writers expressing the thought that they do not believe they need an agent. Here are my thoughts on this decision. 

IF an author wants a major publisher, as Jody talks about here, then the writer needs an agent.

Read her post to understand the differences between the major publishing houses, small presses, and self-publishing.

Many houses do not accept unagented material, and you want to have a chance with a company like Simon & Schuster.

The way I understand it is, the big houses slush piles became humongous and that meant they had to pay money to have people read the manuscripts, most of which weren't very good. That's when they decided to only accept agented material.

Now if you decide to go the small press route you may not need an agent. But I believe they work with writers they already know or have already published. And I wonder about support after the book comes out. 

I am posting about these things because I am preparing to query. I have given a lot of thought to the process, read articles from other writers, checked blogs of agents and I have come to the conclusion that for me anyway, an agent is definitely in my NEAR future.

My search for an agent has been made easy thanks to QueryTracker. I always check the websites of the prospective agents, and I rely on Preditors and Editors too.

And always remember to be professional.

No blubbering after an agent as she/he goes into the restroom. (I don't think they like that.) No desperate phone calls after you have sent your query, and never forget what your mama taught you. If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all. Any thoughts on major houses versus small presses? Let's hear them. =)

29 comments:

  1. Awesome post!!! I plan on having an agent, I just think it's more support for you to make sure your dream actually happens!

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  2. I don't have much, if anything to add to your sound advice.
    Good luck with the querying!

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  3. Unless a writer speaks contract, I think every one should have an agent whether it's e-press, small press or large house. :-)
    Agents are very necessary, imo. Now, they're not needed to get pubbed, imo, but they are needed if you want to get the most for your book and the best terms. :-)
    Have fun querying!

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  4. Jen, agreed. More support that we really NEED and WANT! =)

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  5. Paul, thanks, I'm very excited as you know. And nervous, and anxious. So many feelings. =)

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  6. I agree Jessica. Every one unless they are talking contract with a publisher. Great advice to add. =)

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  7. After going to SCBWI and hearing a seminar about contracts (from an agent) I know there would be no other way to go. I never thought about going un-agented, but this course sealed the deal. It's not even about understanding the publishing contract (which I could) but knowing what rights are best to keep, and which to let the publisher have.

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  8. Ewww, Megan, you bring up a very good point. knowing what rights are best to keep, and which to let the publisher have. I wish I would have added that, but all will probably read your comment. Great point. Thanks. =)

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  9. It's true that an agent is not required, but it sure makes for a better journey. I tried for three years w/out an agent. I got in at two houses (Bloomsbury and Viking) by meeting editors at conferences and having them request my manuscript. Even after that, they basically ignored me. The Bloomsbury editor was great and we did some non contracted edits but then she was laid off and my MS was orphaned. It was a HUGE waste of my time (aside from the lessons I learned which were of some value).

    Then I finally got smart and thought 'hmm, maybe I need an agent'. What a difference. Not only did the whole process go faster (because the houses actually respond to agents) but I felt better supported.

    Sorry for the rant. Can you tell I have an opinion on this? :D :D

    An agent isn't for everyone, but it sure made a difference for me.

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  10. Like you said, it depends on your immediate goals whether to look into getting an agent first or not. If you want to start small with self-pub or small press, I say no agent. If you want to go straight for the big house, yes to getting an agent.

    You probably could gain a big house publisher's attention at a convention if you pitch to her/him, but even if he/she likes the story and offers you a contract, you'd probably still want to get an agent to help you deal with all that big-time money rolling in!!

    Those are my thoughts anyway.

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  11. Tess, love the rant. Rant anytime. I've done it enough on your blog. And you are most definitely right!! An agent isn't for everyone. But it IS for moi.

    I want the whole process to go FASTER. Smoother. EASIER on me. =)

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  12. Linda, Ahhhh, oops I was dreaming about what you said about the big-time money. Okay, I'm back to reality now. I agree it does depend on immediate goals. =)

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  13. Great post, Robyn. This comment thread is awesome too - so much good stuff! :-)

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  14. Shannon, thanks and the comments are awesome. I'm lovin' 'em. We all have our opinions on this. And we have to forge our own way. =)

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  15. Good post, Robyn. I agree with Tess that agents are for everyone but I truly feel everyone should really think hard about it before going one way or the other.

    I've been contracted with a small press and I don't think my relationship would have gone any differently with an agent. However, I realized that I wanted my relationship with the publisher to be different and that would probably involve being with a more traditional and larger publishing house. An agent would facilitate that--and furthermore, an agent would also be the extra person to stand up for me, what I've written and look out for what's best for me and my writing. (Of course this is also why finding that right agent is important, too.)

    I'm so excited that you're ready for querying! It's such a scary but fun time. We're all here for you and good luck!

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  16. Cindy, thanks and I know that you are here for me. That is one thing I definitely KNOW! It is scary.

    And agents aren't for everyone, but you bring out some great points that while they may not be for all of us, we should all seriously think hard about it. And finding the RIGHT agent is so very important too. Like you say, an agent should stand up for me and my story. He/she should look out for us. Thanks Cindy. =)

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  17. Yes, for me, the answer is yes. I don't want to have to be the one to do all the stuff the agent ends up doing. I'd rather be writing. B-) Very good advice!

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  18. Dani, me too! I want to write to my hearts content. YAY! =)

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  19. Thanks for the shout out about my posts, Robyn. I definitely think everyone needs to weigh the costs and benefits of small press vs. traditional. It might be harder to get in to traditional, and the wait longer, but the benefits are enormous!

    Glad my post today gave you some more to think about! I just love when that happens! Have a wonderful week! :-)

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  20. Jody, I had to shout them out. They are so very important. And the benefits will be huge. I agree. That's what I want.

    And what you talked about this morning really hit home. I have been thinking about this for a while. Now I know. I will only post three times a week. I must write. That's what writers do. (^_^) Thanks Jody!!

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  21. Robyn, I'll say that I think the small presses are publishing some really wonderful books these days. I've read some excellent work by writers like Mary Miller and Kuzhali Manickavel that I probably wouldn't have had the opportunity to read if it weren't for the small presses. I think for literary writers, small presses can be great because they are willing to take on more groundbreaking work. They don't have to play it safe. For genre writing, like what you're doing though, I'm not as well-informed. I don't know if small presses take on projects like that. Do you?

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  22. Yes I do Davin. They do, but in limited amounts. In other words, if a pre-pubbed author has a super, well written, polished book and one of their already pubbed authors has a well done, but not as well written as the other one book, the small press will take the already pubbed author. Because of the already known factor, I guess.

    I agree that for Literary Fiction, a small press might well be the way to go. Although the BIG SIX as I like to call them might take your Literary Fiction too. Depending on what type of Literary fiction it is.

    It's all in the writer's perception of what is good for them, I suppose. Thanks Davin! For bringing up a vital point. =)

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  23. Best wishes as you prepare to query! Billy Coffey gave such great advice when he said the way to get published....keep trying one more time. I loved that advice. It's so true. No matter how many rejections grace our doorsteps, the key is just trying one more time. :)

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  24. I definitely plan to go the agent route, not only to help break in at a larger publisher but also to help with the major headachy business side. I live in a city with some of the most complex tax regulations ever for the self-employed. I hope for lots of hand-holding with the money end so I don't make stupid mistakes that land me in a fellony tax evasion scenario.

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  25. No blubbering, huh? Oh, okay. Thanks for sharing this, Robyn!
    Blessings,
    Karen

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  26. Your blog is a wealth of information...thank you for sharing! I'm nowhere near the point in my writing where I need to find an agent, even though I've been working on my book for 2 years. I'm still trying to muddle my way through the WRITING process...LOL!!

    Thanks for finding me and for the follow on my blog! I'm now following you as well!

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  27. Like you said, agents are necessary if your looking to go with a major publishing house, but more and more, editors are closing their doors to unsolicited mss. Pub houses are taking on fewer clients due to uncertain conditions at current in the industry and thus who they take on needs to be someone they know they can make money off of, someone who will last. To save on time, they count on trusted agents to help weed the good from the bad, thus wasting less time.

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  28. There are pros and cons all around, but larger houses certainly have more connections with the world. As for the agent, they are really helpful (though not totally necessary) for getting into the bigger houses.
    Good luck!

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