Do I Need an Agent?

Thursday, August 21, 2008
Do I need an agent? is a question writers often ask each other or professionals in the field. Here are three things to consider if you are struggling with this same question.

1. Are you submitting a book for children or for adults?
If you are writing for children, you are less likely to need an agent than if you are writing for adults. Most adult publishing houses do not take unsolicited submissions from unagented writers. There are a few independent or university presses you can find that will take adult manuscript submissions without an agent, but these are not very common. Children's authors often do not have an agent. There are many more houses that accept unsolicited, unagented manuscripts for children's books.

2. Do you know to negotiate a contract?
An agent is a specialist. He or she knows how to negotiate with editors and publishing houses to get the best deal for the author, who usually knows little about auctions and contracts. An agent can help with rights, advances, options, and foreign rights.

3. Do you have current knowledge on the market and/or editors at publishing houses?
An agent's job is to learn what different editors are looking for. Agents often have lunch with editors to make contacts and talk about projects. Agents know which houses are more likely to buy certain manuscripts. It is their job to find a good match for your work!

There are certainly many more things to consider when you are wondering whether or not you need an agent, but here are three questions that will hopefully start you on deciding whether an agent is for you.

Happy writing!
Margo Dill


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