I’ve seen several posts in blogland recently on this topic. Last week, Rachelle Gardner posted Literary Agents: Not Quite Dinosaurs. I thought I’d throw my two cents into the discussion.
Most of the discussion seems to stem from the increase in self-publishing or the belief that authors can work with publishers directly.
Over the years of my writing career and my experience with various types of agents, I’ve reached the following conclusions.
My agent needs to be my business partner and advisor. When we discuss proposals and story ideas, I appreciate open and honest feedback on the merits of each idea, on which publishers might be open, how to frame the proposal, and even whether the concept might work better self-published. When my agent is more concerned with my career than just my sales, we’ve reached a level of relationship that is awesome.
I need my agent to handle the details, especially in the area of contracts. Agents bring a level of expertise it would take me too
long to acquire. When I was considering taking on a ghostwriting project, the president of my agency stepped in to handle the contract. He was able to include clauses that gave me better protection—things I would never have thought of—and more money than I thought possible.
With an agent, I can focus on the writing process with the publisher and have someone with clout backing me up. The clout comes from the experience, skills and knowledge of the industry agents have acquired over the years.
No matter which direction my writing career takes, I would not want to be on the path without a good agent.
How about you? Do you think agents are still valuable in the changing world of publishing?