Wednesday, February 27, 2008

To Agent or Not To Agent

Many new writers are getting into the self-publishing business. Through companies such as Author House and iUniverse, people with something to say have an easy way to say it. They simply write their book, pay the publisher, and get it out there. Of course, this is the simplified version that does not mention the revision process and all of the customer service some of these publishers offer, and it is all good stuff. The problem is who is going to read these self-published books? Where are they going to sell?

If you want to write something for the family to read, just want to see your name in print, or are producing a cookbook for a fundraising event, then self-publishing is a good idea. I attended a seminar presented by iUniverse at an ASJA conference a few years ago and discovered I could re-print my back listed novel for my readership, but why would I?

At the risk of offending self-published authors, or the self-publishers, authors need an agent. Yes, I sold my first book without an agent, but that was a fluke. A new small publisher requested it, and then accepted the book. I did not receive an advance, nor did I get much of a royalty check later. The result was that a publisher who chose good books published my first novel. They marketed to a degree, but being small, they could not do everything with their small staff. I ended up doing much of the marketing myself, which was fun, but left me little time to write the next book.

If I had an agent, it would have played out much different. After doing the “marketing” of my work and myself in order to snag an agent, I would have started writing the next book. Yes, I would have had to stop for revisions along the way after the editor got hold of it, but someone else would have been shopping the book to the big publishers. You know the ones with the royalty checks and advances not to mention the space on the bookstore shelves? Moreover, because my book would have been presented to a publisher by an agent and not by an individual author (known as an “unsolicited” manuscript), it would have headed to the publisher with a seal of authenticity. In other words, the publisher would know that the book is good and not fraught with typos, misinformation and bad writing. They cannot know that if you have published the book by paying someone to do so.

“So how do I get an agent?” you ask. You will have to tune in next week for an answer to that question. In the meantime, answer one of my questions.

Have you self-published a book?

Tell me about it. In the meantime, keep writing the next one.


1 comment:

Just a Girl in a Port said...


I'll be interested to read more of your thoughts on this. I've been going back and forth on this issue myself.