Do you have/want one? Why/why not?

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I know a few authors right now who have agents but thus far the agents haven't gotten them a book deal. I think an agent is useful when he/she does get a book deal for his/her client. But as we know, it is getting harder and harder for agents to sell books to publishers even when they (agents) know the book is damn good. It's not surprising that so many authors are bypassing agents or despairing of even getting one, and taking their book straight to market via other means (which of course is also problematic).

I do also think, though, that if an author has a good agent and there is a good rapport between author and agent, and the author/agent combo is pitching successfully to publishers, having an agent like that would be well worth it. 

If we want to get published by a traditional publisher, having a literary agent seems to be the best way to go. I've checked some of the submission guidelines of publishers and several suggest getting one.  I just finished my second book so will be completing a book proposal once I have all the release statements signed from people I interviewed. If not able to obtain an agent, I'll just self-publish again. Doing so worked fairly well for my first book, which has sold quite well locally but not nationally as I don't have the type of distribution that I would with a traditional publisher.  A suggestion: It would be helpful to know some questions to ask of a potential agent, just in case!

I agree with you Mary... 

Hi, Jeff:

    This is an excellent question and one that compels me to answer!  I have written 2 textbooks plus a couple of chapters in other people's textbooks all in nursing/medicine.  Wow!  There is just no money in the very long process of writing and editing in non-fiction as far as I can tell. And then you have to cross your fingers that your textbook(s) get adopted.  Now, I get more offers but I feel completely at a loss as to how to negotiate.  I really feel at the mercy of the publishing houses.  So, in my mind, I thinks its a good idea to have a literary agent even though I don't have one (yet).

Anyone want to share their experiences?


I found myself asking this question months ago.  However, I was talking to the PA of the editor of O, The Oprah Magazine here in South Africa.  The editor had contributed to my sister and my book, Leave No Girl Behind: How to help girls become the change in our world.  They wanted to buy a copy of our book when it was published.  The PA told me that it's probably better to go the mainstream publishing route since their magazine (and similarly other magazines) wouldn't review a book that wasn't published mainstream, simply because while there is a universal mainstream publishing standard, there is no set standard for self-published books.  So while self-publishing could mean more money, mainstream publishing (requiring a literary agent) can mean more publicity of our message.  And getting our message out to as many people as possible is really the number one priority...of course, the money coming with it would help a great deal too!!

Yeah, the old self publishing vs mainstream publishing deal dilemma. I'm handling it by first doing a self-publishing book about a non-fiction and controversial subject which should get some notoriety which I hope will translate into some decent sales as well as publicity. I intend to use that to get a deal with a mainstream publisher for a subsequent book and if my other plans work out, they'll be coming to me for the follow-up books and I'll won't even bother with looking for an agent...

Hello Jeff,

This is Joseph DiPentino, I think it would be good to have an agent and would like some advice or help on how to get one for this very important piece and others.

Thank you sir,

Sincerely, Joseph

Dear Jeff,

Yes, but have they  truly realized it. I would say no because it kills the rhythm. 

Yours sincerely,

Debasish Satpathy

I am actively sending out pitches to agents and preferring to stay positive. It's about right timing and being ready consciously and unconsciously for the right agent to come along. It's kind of like dating or that old saying about having to kiss many frogs before encountering the prince or princess.

One mistake I made in the past was sending out work to agents prematurely. Live and learn.


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