How does the process normally work for getting your story published in the US? First you would write the novel presumably. Then you would send it to an agent. Lets say he decides he likes the book. Then he would take care of marketing it to a publisher (or perhaps he already has the inside track with a few publishers). Is that mostly how it works? Would there ever be a time when you could skip over the agent and just go straight to a publisher? If your agent can't sell your story to a publisher, is there a certain amount of time he keeps it in his file just in case he finds someone like months in the future? Also, presumably an agent helps negotiate how much you get paid for what you write as well, is there usually an understood starting amount for new authors or could they negotiate a different amount every time?