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seun
08-15-2008, 03:30 PM
http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/08/whats_the_point_of_literary_ag.html

There's a definite tang of bitterness to some of the comments.

Soccer Mom
08-15-2008, 08:56 PM
Yes, the first problem I have is his assumption that having an agent will make the process happen more quickly.


Aspiring writers are frequently told that the quickest route to getting published is via an agent. Having been on the books of two, neither of whom got my book on the shelves, and then secured a contract with a publisher myself, I wonder if that's really true.

When I first secured representation back in the early 90s I naively thought fame and riches would follow.

That isn't why authors should seek out agents. Agents open doors that we cannot get in otherwise and they have an expertise in the business: who to pitch to, how to negotiate a favorable contract, etc... That is the value of an agent.

I think this is a case of perhaps unreasonable expectations. I followed the link in the article and nowhere did I see a mention that an agent would expidite the process or make things happen more quickly, just that an agent can get you read by makor houses in a way you could not do on you own. This is true.

The author finally placed a book with a smaller (ETA: very small) independant publisher. Perhaps the reason the two first agents were unable to sell his work is that it wasn't good enough or that it just wasn't what the publishers were looking for. Without knowing squat-all about who his agents were, perhaps they weren't very good agents or just weren't the right agents for him. But It's hard to say that simply because his two agents did not sell him that all agents are a waste of an author's time when there are so many other stories to the contrary. Simply look at our own Goals and Accomplishments forum to see how many first time authors here have gotten major book deals courtesy of an agent's help.

Ms Hollands
08-15-2008, 09:23 PM
If he's so bitter about agents, why is he looking for another one?

Prozyan
08-15-2008, 09:38 PM
I'm kinda confused about what his point is. That it is possible to pick up a publisher without an agent isn't exactly groundbreaking news.

Also, it seems like he is blaming the failing of his first two efforts on agents, whereas he honed his craft, took some classes, and learned some new skills before being successful with his third.

Maybe if it was the same work he got published on his own after agents failed I could see a point. But he's talking about two completely different points in his writing career.

Old Hack
08-15-2008, 11:34 PM
Um... Legend Press: isn't that a vanity publisher?

I'm not sure if Legend is your classic vanity press, but I do know that YouWriteOn (not my favourite website) offers a pay-to-play, vanity-publishing option to its members via Legend. Which probably makes Legend a vanity too. No wonder the agents he contacted after publishing with Legend weren't impressed.

seun
08-16-2008, 04:55 PM
Am I right in thinking the most books which sell to a publisher do so with an agent involved?

CheshireCat
08-17-2008, 12:38 AM
Am I right in thinking the most books which sell to a publisher do so with an agent involved?


If you're talking major publishers, probably. Smaller and regional presses may deal more one-on-one with authors.

Tachyon
08-17-2008, 02:25 AM
When I started thinking about submissions, I also asked myself why I needed an agent.

Then I thought about it terms of every other business on the planet. If I need to put an addition onto my house, I'd hire a contractor, not do it myself--I just don't have the expertise to do it. I could learn, just as I could learn all of the ins and outs of publishing. But that takes time that I could otherwise devote to writing.

If you don't get an agent, then you have to negotiate your contract on your own. If you are a lawyer who specializes in publishing contracts, then this should be no problem. Otherwise, you should probably find a lawyer with experience in that field. The last thing you want to do is sell your book and then find out you've given away some other rights because you didn't properly interpret the fine print....