This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Your first question may be 'do I need to get an agent'? The answer to this (even just a short time ago) used to be an unequivocal 'yes'. If you had written a novel and wanted to get a publishing deal, agents were pretty much the only way to go. Most of the big publishers didn't accept unsolicited submissions.
These days the publishing landscape is somewhat different. The advent of digital publishing and the rise of small independent publishers means that submitting directly to a small publisher or digital-only imprint (such as our very own Novelicious Books) is a very viable option.
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However, before you decide to bypass the literary agencies, here are few reasons many authors still choose to sign with one:1. Agents only make money when you make money. This means you are signing on with someone within the industry who is invested in your success.
2. An agent will negotiate contracts for you, getting the best possible deal. If you're not totally convinced of your own business acumen, powers of persuasion and negotiation, then why not outsource this to an expert?
3. Your agent acts as a buffer between you and your publisher. If there is something you're not happy about (your blurb, your cover, your contract), your agent can have the difficult conversations for you.
4. Because you want a print deal with one of the big traditional publishers. Most of the big guns still only accept submissions via agents.
5. A good agent can advise you on your writing career and many source additional opportunities for their authors such as ghost writing, selling foreign, television and film rights, book festivals and promotional opportunities.
6. A good agent will help you edit your manuscript before prospective publishers see it, giving your book the best possible chance of securing a deal.
7. Author-agent relationships vary, but the right one can be invaluable in terms of brainstorming book ideas (and getting feedback on your works-in-progress), supporting you when you are feeling vulnerable or low, and offering encouragement.
Writing (and publishing) is a hard and lonely slog; don't underestimate the power of being part of a team. Personally, I really value the sense that I have someone 'on my side'.
Also, while securing an agent is no guarantee of publishing success, it is a vote of confidence in your ability; something which can sustain you through the rejection-laden business of carving a writing career.
Looking to go down the literary agent route and think you’re ready to submit? This week is Agent Wishlist Week on Novelicious. Throughout the week at different times, we’ll be publishing the wishlists of leading agents – details of the manuscripts they’re hoping to stumble across in their slush piles, plus information on how to submit. Check back often!