The Agent Debate

I came across this post on GalleyCat about who needs a literary agent anymore and the well written rebuttal by DGLM. And it's interesting to see some published authors I love, like Jeaniene Frost and Seanan McGuire weighing in. Even more interesting is reading the passionate (sometimes overly so) comments on these posts.

But the thing is, this isn't a new discussion. Yes, e-books and the digital age in publishing, might change some aspects of the industry. But, this isn't the first time a "Who Needs an Agent" post spurred a discussion in the blogosphere. Less than six months ago, there was this one.

I agree that agents aren't for everyone and there are authors out there who can get published without one. And of course there are self-publishing opportunities out there, and some authors who are self-published can become very successful (though I've heard more horror stories than successes).

But I just don't see this eliminating the need for agents. We put a lot of time into knowing the industry, networking with editors, writing our own editorial letters before the book has sold, and the time and effort that goes into managing a writer's career, liaising between the author and publisher (on everything from cover art and typeface to royalty statements and check), negotiating deals, subrights, and contracts - it's a lot of work. I can't imagine doing all that and trying to also write, and write well.

But, it's an interesting discussion to check out, if you haven't seen it yet.

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Ash. Elizabeth said...

I've check it out and I think people should try to "sell" their work to an agent. To me, its like a writing right of passage and I can't wait to conquer it : )

Lisa Desrochers said...

Being part of the great clueless mass of authors out there, I wouldn't have even known were to start without my rockstar agent. And when (hear the optimism) my book sells, even if I didn't need an agent to make that happen--which I do--I'd certainly want one to help navigate the contract process and look out for my interests. I don't see agents going away--ever. Course, not everyone can have an agent as awesome as mine! :)

RissaWatkins said...

I think it is kinda like selling your own house instead of using a real estate agent.

You might be able to do it, but an agent can use their knowledge and connections to get the buyers and land the deals. Plus the agent can tell you what to fix up to make your book (or home for real estate agents)sell.

Personally, I'd rather have an agent in my corner watching my back.

Kristin Halbrook said...

Agent = yes.

Especially mine.

You know, I never even considered a writing career without an agent. Probably because I've seen websites where self-pub'd authors are trying to hawk their book and it just makes me uncomfortable to imagine doing it like that. I want a respected house behind me, a campaign (hopefully), someone to whine to when my water isn't chilled to the proper 44 degrees at book signings (that's not a problem, is it?), and, of course, someone to handle the complex contracts and negotiating with editors. Agents do work hard and while there are specialized cases that don't need an agent, general fiction writers do.

Anonymous said...

Any author who no longer needs his/her agent, please refer them to me, because writing books is much more fun than writing queries. :)

Melissa said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I have the negotiating skills of an ill-tempered carrot. Well-adjusted carrots out-negotiate me on a regular basis.

I'd sell my book to a publisher for a Slurpee if I could, maybe throw in some nachos if I was driving a really hard bargain. Then I'd be so grateful someone had agreed to publish my book that I'd be afraid to speak up about any problems, such as the publisher deciding my gritty YA Urban Fantasy needed unicorns, glitter and kittens on the cover, with my name misspelled in 8 pt Lucinda font. Hey, glitter and unicorns are the new emo vampires, right?

So yes, an agent would be nice.