Paperback Writer (or also known as SF Writer S.L Viehl) corrects herself here about the advice that you sell a book to a publisher first and then get an agent. An agent popped in to negate that, and I added that I’d also acquired my agent who then sold the book to a publisher, but I was a little out of it, because I didn’t phrase it too well.
But here are some reasons I think it might be good to hunt for the agent first, and then if you haven’t snagged yourself one, start harrying the publishers:
1) The agent will probably know the field better than you. The agent should know which editors are looking for/interested in/buying your type of novel, if not have some good leads on it, or an editor who’s very receptive to the agent because of good books the agent sent him/her in the past.
2) Your agent can simultaneously submit your novel to a number of editors. You can’t. That cuts down on the time spent marketing the book!
3) Your agent is more likely to understand the contract ins and outs
4) You are going to need one eventually, why not start now?
5) Many agents work very closely with their writers to bring the fiction up to the next level before submitting to the publisher (this could be good or bad, in my case and a couple of friends it was good)
6) Your agent should be more experienced at pitching books than you.
So there are 6 reasons I think having an agent first can sometimes be helpful.
3 thoughts on “Six Reasons For a Writer to Have an Agent”
I agree that an agent is the best way to sell a novel, but even with a good agent I wonder what the stats are for a first novel sale. I know (boy do I know) that it’s possible to write decent short stories that fail to land in a magazine or anthology. So the same must hold true for novels.
Granted the same must hold true for novels, I agree. I just think that all things being equal the agent route seems to have advantages…
In my opinion, the agent acts as a trusted first reader for the editor. The fact that an agent (who will, after all, get no compensation unless the book sells) is willing to spend her/his valuable time marketing the novel means that the agent obviously believes the book will find a market. The mnre experienced and influential the agent, the more clout that impression is likely to have on an editor. It doesn’t guarantee a sale, but I think it guarantees a close look at the manuscript.
And, as TB outlines in his post, there are several other good reasons to go the agent route first, if possible.
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