1. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    If I can get published on my own, is it still a good idea to get an agent?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by GoldenFeather, Sep 7, 2012.

    I'm relatively new to this publishing business, so bear with me.

    I have completed my first novel and am looking to get it published. I am having trouble finding ways to submit it to publishing houses, and I am not familiar with query letters (who requires it) or even finding publishing companies who are looking.

    Does an agent make this process easier? Do they find publishing houses (and good ones) that are looking for your specific genre?

    Do they have resources that we cannot find ourselves?

    I am debating whether or not to get an agent to help me with the process. I don't want to give 10% of book sales to someone if I can do everything myself.

    In the event that my work does get published, does an agent continue to promote it and work on getting it into different book stores?

    I'm sure these questions are obvious to most of you, but this is a first time for me, so I would appreciate any advice. Thank you so much!
     
  2. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Queries are required by agents - I'm not sure what a publisher requires if you're submitting directly to them. But many big and good publishing houses won't accept "unsolicited manuscripts" - eg. MSs that are not represented by an agent. I believe having an agent as a go-between is the norm, at least for the reputable houses. But yes there're publishing houses that don't require an agent too.

    The agent will promote your MS to publishing houses and the good ones should know which houses are looking for a story like yours. In theory he should also negotiate for you the best deal possible, because he only gets to eat if you do. I did read an article a while ago though that this is only in theory and actually there're very little "wriggle room" for negotiating anything for a first-time writer, and not every agent knows as much about literary law - although he will still likely know more than you. It's important to find a good agent, and for those, I do believe there's a list you could look up here: http://aaronline.org/

    The AAR only accepts agents onto their members list if they meet certain criteria - for example that they cannot charge you a single penny until the MS has been accepted somewhere, thereby safeguarding you from sharks. But these agents would usually be the good ones which means it's also hard to get them to take your MS. This is not the only place with good, reputable agents, but there's no standard list you can look up really outside of the AAR.

    And it's the publisher's job to get you a place in the book stores. The agent's is just to get you into the publishing house.

    I think the above is correct. Correct me anyone if I'm wrong :)

    I think there's an annual's Writer's Yearbook that has a gigantic list of all the publishers there are and what genre they're looking for. Not sure there's such a book for finding agents but can't hurt to google it I think. Here's the amazon link to the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2013: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Writers-Artists-Yearbook-2013/dp/1408157497?tag=7800651723-21
     
  3. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Thank you so much!!

    I think your'e right. Getting an agent would be a good idea since I don't really know what's going on. They would be my best shot over sending my manuscript randomly without proper procedure. I know publishing houses would rather have the organized, easier way to a manuscript. More chances of getting it read and considered I guess.

    Thank you!
     
  4. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    Mckk's info is good, but be aware that there is a lot more to the process than can be simply answered in one forum post. And a lot of things depend on what you are writing and what you want to do with it. But for most genres and the larger publishing houses an agent is going to be a necessary thing. Getting an agent is a good idea but it's not as simple as just hiring one. That's where the query process comes in and it's an uphill battle to get an agent to offer you representation.

    The site I've found most useful for information on agents, what genres they represent, and the information you need to query them is:
    http://www.querytracker.net/

    It's great that you wrote the novel, but there's a lot more to the industry of publishing no matter how you end up going about it. Check out the information on this site and others, look up agent blogs and explore some publishers' websites. Try to educate yourself as much as possible going in because it will save you a lot of pain and effort over the long haul. Good luck.
     
  5. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Thank you BBBurke :)
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Also try http://www.agentquery.com.
     
  7. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    As I understand (but no direct experience) many publishing houses only take submissions through agents. Most advice seems to be to get an agent. The agent's job is to place your manuscript with the publishers where it has the best chance, in return for a percentage. You might want to do some search for lists of agents who deal with your genre and style. A site called QueryTracker offers some free access to discussions of agents and query letters that may be of help.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    An agent will probably secure you a better deal than you could get on your own, even taking the agent's percentage into account. That not only means negotiating a better package from the same publisher you would find on your own, but also access to publishers with a wider market and better resources.
     
  9. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't claim to know these things, but if an agent can get you published with a proper publishing company, 10% seems like an utter bargain to me. I wouldn't compare the 90% you get to 100% you'd get without an agent, I'd compare the 90% to the 0% you'll get if the book isn't actually published.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    most will require you to have an agent and will not accept unagented queries or submissions... however, if your book fits a genre handled by small, niche indies, some of those will accept a direct query from the author... check the listings on duotrope to find them...

    ...for books, the answer is 'everyone!'... all agents and publishers... no legit one will accept a submission before they request it on the strength of your query letter...

    see above re duotrope...

    yes and yes...

    yes... plus personal/professional connections to editors at publishing houses...

    1. it's 15%... 2.you can't do all that an agent will do for you that will more than make up for the 15% they take off the top...

    no, book promotion and distribution is done by the publisher... most, if not all agents will promote their client/the author... may set up interviews, book-signings and the like...
     

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