In today's changing market, we hear so many contradicting things. “You need an agent.” “You don't need an agent. Just self publish.” “Going indie press is the best.” The question isn't what is right for everyone. It's what is right for you.
Now, I will admit to wanting a publishing contract with the Big 6. I know a lot of authors who would just rather keep full control of their works and go one of the other routes. This doesn't mean I won't make that decision for my own writing in the end.
Today I'm talking about what it takes to find an agent. I've started doing the research because my goal is to start querying Marked by the end of this year. I hope to be ready by October to start, but we'll see how that goes.
Now, the first stop I made in my research was Jody Hendlund's blog (http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/). She has a post that she published back in 2011 about the six benefits of having an agent. Here's a rundown of that list.
- Agents have connections. Agents keep in contact with the publishing industry. They have the contacts, work behind the scenes with those in the editing and publishing companies, and are always on the look out for new ways to help their clients.
- Agents help with career planning. They can work together with you to make plans for your long term career.
- Agents act as arbitrators and negotiators. Agents are skilled at acting as go-betweens. Even if you have a good relationship with your publisher, it helps to have someone who can keep a professional outlook when you become more emotionally involved in a project.
- Agents offer feedback on books. Many agents will read the books and offer their own editorial comments on the book before they try to sell it.
- Agents can provide emotional support. Things can discourage you with the full process of the writing industry. An agent can be encouraging when you need the boost.
- Agents are in touch with the industry pulse. With the speed things are changing, authors may get behind. Agents keep track of the market and what's selling, what the options are, and what publishers want.
Agent Rachelle Gardner offers another perspective on it in this blog post. http://www.rachellegardner.com/2013/04/the-benefits-of-having-an-agent/ To summarize this one, there are a lot of steps of the process that an agent can help with. They help make your proposal shine, they interact with your publisher, they work through helping you understand your contract, and many other things. There is more to the blog post than I could summarize here. I suggest going to read it yourself.
As I did the research I found a lot of pages that offered suggestions. All you have to do is search them out. Now, there are cons for choosing an agent as well. As with self publishing and indie publishing, research both sides and make your decisions based on the pros, cons, and your own personal choice.