I’ve begun the arduous process of looking for an agent after mine left the business. (Sad truth; he didn’t get rich off my book sales.) It can be as hard to find an agent as it is to find a publisher, why would I even waste my time?
1. A good agent knows the market. He or she can take my novel directly to the editors who are interested in a suspense novel. I, on the other hand, can read the writer’s markets, Publisher’s Weekly, attend writer’s conferences and still only know one or two that might be right for my project.
2. An agent already has a rapport with the editors. It will take me time to develop that relationship.
3. If there is high interest in my novel, an agent can organize a bidding war between publishers. This has happened to people I know.
4. An agent will negotiate a higher advance. Mine got an unbelievable amount for my first book; something I could never have done on my own. Why is this important? If your book doesn’t do well, it may be all the money you get out of your work. I know that your book is going to be the exception and sell 100,000 copies its first four months on the market. This advise is for the rest of us.
5. An agent knows all of the ins and outs of contracts. Something small like foreign rights or film rights may seem meaningless when you’re blinded by that first book offer, but the amount of money you receive from these sales can amount to a lot of money if your book does well, or even moderately well.
6. An agent can look at your book and suggest changes that will help make your proposal stronger, thus making it more marketable.
An agent takes 15 percent of your earnings. If the above is something you feel you can take care of yourself, then my all means, do it.
WARNING: Avoid agents who want you to pay money up front.
If you have had experiences with agents, this may be a good place to share what those were. We can learn from each other.