Family Collage

Family Collage
Lots of Love in this Bunch!
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Why Does an Unpublished Author Need an Agent, Anyway?

The title for tonight's post pretty much sums up the topic of discussion, so if you're not interested in learning how a literary agent PAVES the road to publication, then check back on Monday for something different (I'm thinking somewhere along the lines of, How to Keep Your Sanity During the Query Process, but if you have something you'd like me to write about, drop a line in the comment box and I'll discuss it next week).

A few people have asked why I need a literary agent in the first place, so after countless hours of research and stalking numerous blogs of first time authors, I give you the top five reasons why I would never (Okay, I know one should never say NEVER, but at this point, I'm saying NEVER!) attempt to publish my novel without having someone educated and experienced in dealing with major publishing houses.

The Top Five Reasons An Unpublished Author Needs An Agent:

1.) As bad as you want to believe it, your book is NOT perfect! (Agents know how to get your book into the best shape possible before submitting it to editors. Most agents are editorially savvy, so if they connect well enough with the plot then they begin looking at the project with a keen eye. But GEEZ, you would not believe how many first time authors refuse to make one change to their manuscript! Don't worry, I'm not that kind of gal.)

2.) Literary agents have friends in high places! (Agents spend a large portion of their time building strong relationships with editors and publishers. They meet for lunch; they attend conferences together; they wine and dine at book parties; they become friends. So after cultivating these relationships with one another, most editors know if they receive a manuscript from Jane Doe Agent, then it's a story worth reading.)

3.) Negotiating! (Let's dream a little here. Suppose editor A falls in love with your manuscript and wants to make an offer. Awesome! But what if editor B and C from Jane Doe Agent's list call with interest in your book? This is when it comes in handy to have Jane Doe Agent working on your behalf. She knows how to raise the offer and get the best deal possible for you, her client.)

4.) Contracts! (Just the sound of this word makes my head spin! Unless you're an expert at reading and understanding the fine print on publishing contracts, chances are this is the moment you realize how smart you were in seeking representation. Publishing agreements are extremely tricky, but for experienced agents, they are all the same. They know when to push and when to back off.)

5.) What if you aren't happy? (Let's just say everything has gone smoothly up to this point, when suddenly, you see the cover design of your book and hate it! Yet before you pick up the phone to complain to your editor, you remember this person is someone you want to keep happy. So instead of ruffling your sleep-deprived editor's feathers, you dial Jane Doe Agent's number and vent your frustration away. The agent doesn't mind being the bad guy in this situation. It is her job to work diligently on your behalf to express any and every concern to the editor. In the end, the book is published as an expected best-seller, and you now have time to begin writing another book. After all, isn't this the best part?)

Well, in closing for tonight, I hope you learned something new about the role an agent plays in publishing a book. Have a fabulous weekend, everyone! Tory

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tory! You have a wonderful space here, and I love your banner pic. What a gorgeous family you have!

    I'm with you on all five of these reasons to find representation before attempting to publish a book. I don't know of any traditional publishing house that even accepts unsolicited manuscripts these days, although that doesn't mean they don't exist (LOL). The smaller presses may, but I totally agree with you. A debut novelist with no leverage, in the way of credentials or brand, shouldn't try to negotiate the dark waters of book publishing without an agent.

    I'm so glad you connected with me! I look forward to reading more from you :)