To Agent or Not to Agent?

Should you fork over a percentage of your hard earned money to someone else? Should you share the profits of your word work to someone who didn’t contribute to the writing?

And you’ll only share those profits with the person AFTER you’ve gone through all of the work to find them in the first place. Preparing query letters, researching agencies, putting together and mailing copies of your work to agencies takes time. Would you be better served putting that effort into sending your work directly to publishers instead of some middleman?

I’ve heard people complain about their agents and I suppose there are plenty of bad ones out there. All I can say is that in the two years I’ve worked with my agent, she has earned every penny.

The biggest advantage she offers is the ability to pick up the phone and have conversations with the editors I would never have access to. A manuscript I sent to publishers on my own would sit in a slush pile, maybe never making it past the mailroom. When my agent delivers the pages, I know someone who is a decision maker is reading them.

St. Martin’s Press rejected my book but it wasn’t rejected by some assistant to an assistant who stuck a form letter into an envelope having never read my words. It was a rejection written by someone who read it, made a decision about it and took the time to write a legitimate reason for the rejection and even included a line that sounded very much like praise. Somehow, getting rejections like that, from the real folks who can make decisions, let me know my work was taken seriously. The pages weren’t thrown out with the trash.

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