Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Do You Need an Agent?

Do you need an agent to publish?
Time was, in kid-lit, when the answer was that you may want an agent to provide the editorial support, submitting work, negotiating contracts, and general hand-holding, but you didn’t need one.

Do you need an agent nowadays?
Today you can self-publish and even launch a small press at a fraction of the cost of what it would have been in “olden days,” only a generation back. E-books and online book retailers have made marketing a possibility. The stigma of self-publishing is also receding some, and many traditionally published authors have done well moving that-a-way. You don’t need or want an agent to self-publish.

Do you need an agent if you want to be published by a publishing house that pays you?
You don’t need an agent for many of the smaller and self-started publishers who still accept unsolicited submissions directly from writers. Medium and larger houses may still accept submissions intermittently, or through personal contact with an editor after attending a seminar or conference with them. You need a great story and persistence, and an agent would be helpful. But you don’t absolutely need one.

But do you need an agent to get a traditional contract with any imprint of a large and established publisher if you have no contacts or the budget for conferences?

Yup. You pretty much do. You need an agent to even have a smidgen of a shot at that.

Grateful for my agent. She’s the definition of persistence.


  1. Glad you have an agent, Mirka. Wishing you the best on her submissions for you.

    1. Evelyn^, you are one example of just-now published by a big NYC publisher without an agent.
      Check out her book--

  2. I'm agentless right now, but by choice. I've been burned too many times by agents and publishers, so I'm keeping total control over my career for now.

    Having said that, a good agent is a must if you get one. A bad agent is terrible for your career. You're better off with no agent than a bad agent.

  3. I like your straight-forward question and answer format, as many people ask those very questions! I'm thankful to be working with an agent!

  4. Most writers really want their books to be read by many members of their target audience. Those who write for adults may find a strong audience through self-publishing, but it's much tougher for children's authors. Pretty much the only way for us to get read is to get a well-connected agent who can get your books into a reputable, well-known publishing house. And Kelly is right; having a bad agent is worse than having no agent; look before you leap!

  5. That "double agent" strip was funny! I've never had an agent and doubt I'd pursue one (unless I need help with handling rights and other complicated legal matters, but for now I'm doing okay on my own).