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Live2Write
10-25-2006, 04:42 AM
Alright, I'm a first-time novelist working on my first book that I plan to have published. Do I need an agent? What are the pros and cons? I haven't even thought about it but it was brought up in another thread so I figured I would start the topic.

Live2Write

K1P1
10-25-2006, 05:03 AM
There's a huge amount of information here at AW on this topic and you'll get different advice from different people. It depends on what genre you're writing in and what sort of publisher you think is best to publish it.

Some publishers won't accept submissions except from agents. If this includes the publishers you think are the best fit for your book, then an agent would be the way to go.

Some publishers do accept unagented work. But these publishers get thousands of submissions. If you have an agent submitting for you, the publisher assumes the agent has already reviewed your ms. and wouldn't be submitting it unless it's decent. This gives you a step up above he other submissions.

Agents are in a position to negotiate better deals for you and to watch out for your rights when negotiating the contract with the publisher. Unless you are familiar with publishing law, publishing contracts, and what terms are being offered to other new authors in your genre, you won't have any idea if the offer a publisher makes you is a good deal or not.

Publishers frequently respond more quickly to agents than to individual authors. At least, that's what my agent tells me.

Finally, it's a huge psychological relief not to have the burden of submitting and receiving rejections. If you're doing it yourself, you're on a roller coaster of hope and despair as you send out queries, partials and fulls, and wait for responses. That's a lot of energy that you could be putting into writing.

On the other hand, the agent's going to get a percentage of your income.

If I were you, I'd take a look at books similar to your own to see who published them. Then find out the submission guidelines for those publishers. Also, check the acknowledgements in those books to see if the author thanks an agent--then you'll know if an agent was involved in the sale. Once you get a picture of your section of the market, you'll be better able to make a decision about an agent.

underthecity
10-25-2006, 05:10 AM
Pros: Your manuscript to be considered by the big publishers. Someone will do all the work submitting your manuscript to publishers Someone who knows editors on a first name basis, who can get your work read immediately instead of six months from now.

An agent can do all the submitting while you work on your next book. Also, once the manuscript is sold, the agent will work to get the best possible deal for you. Once the deal is done, the agent will collect 15% of your royalties.

The agent will also act on your behalf for future dealings: book clubs, anthologies, even movies. The agent will also be handy for shopping your next book, and your next, and your next.

Cons? Can't think of a single one.

allen

DeadlyAccurate
10-25-2006, 05:12 AM
K1P1 already laid out all the reasons for having an agent, so I won't retread those excellent footsteps. But I did want to say, if you're someone like me who has trouble negotiating a deal, an agent is a must-have. I'm afraid if a publisher ever offered me a contract I'd sign it without a fuss, because I'd be so afraid of losing out on the deal all together. Intellectually I know that they aren't going to turn me away for wanting cover price instead of net; for wanting to keep film rights; etc. But I tend to fold when placed in situations like that. So I will keep querying agents with my books until I land one; then I'll stand back and let her or him handle that part of the business.

K1P1
10-25-2006, 05:17 AM
But I did want to say, if you're someone like me who has trouble negotiating a deal, an agent is a must-have. I'm afraid if a publisher ever offered me a contract I'd sign it without a fuss, because I'd be so afraid of losing out on the deal all together.

That's exactly what I did with my first book. And it's why I decided I needed an agent to negotiate the contract for the second book. Not only did my agent get me better terms for the second book, she got them to make it a two-book contract, so now I'm set for my third book as well. But I write non-fiction, so I'm in a bit of a different position from novelists. On the other hand, I've got an agent who also represents fiction so I'm set in case I ever finish that 3/4 of a novel on the shelf.

Live2Write
10-26-2006, 04:17 AM
Thank you for the advice. I know this may seem a silly question, but do agents "cost" anything up front or do they just work out a deal and then take their 15% when you're making money?

I'm writing my first fictional novel right now in the thriller/horror genre. (Okay, it's actualy more thriller/drama but they don't have a section for that, I don't think.)

Live2Write

scottVee
10-26-2006, 05:18 AM
Reputable agents do not charge fees up front. But there are hundreds of people that call themselves agents and live off of fees, often without doing any work at all. Needless to say, you should avoid the rotten apples. Never pay up front for any writing-related services.

aruna
10-26-2006, 09:20 AM
I'm writing my first fictional novel right now in the thriller/horror genre. (Okay, it's actualy more thriller/drama but they don't have a section for that, I don't think.)

Live2Write

... what they said. And please, please, never ever use the words "fictional novel" when querying an agent!

Momento Mori
10-26-2006, 03:13 PM
Live2Write:
I'm writing my first fictional novel right now in the thriller/horror genre. (Okay, it's actualy more thriller/drama but they don't have a section for that, I don't think.)

I'll echo what everyone else has said, but would add that you shouldn't submit anything to an agent until you are sure that your novel is finished (by which I mean the very best manuscript that you can write). Definitely do not submit the first draft.

Also, don't be afraid to look for writing classes and critique groups operating in your area - there's a lot of support out there for first timers and it can help you avoid many of the common pitfalls.

Best of luck with it!

SeanDSchaffer
10-26-2006, 06:00 PM
Thank you for the advice. I know this may seem a silly question, but do agents "cost" anything up front or do they just work out a deal and then take their 15% when you're making money?

I'm writing my first fictional novel right now in the thriller/horror genre. (Okay, it's actualy more thriller/drama but they don't have a section for that, I don't think.)

Live2Write


I believe that legitimate agents don't charge up-front--it's an incentive to them to sell their clients' books to reputable publishers.

And like Aruna said, be sure not to use the words 'Fictional Novel' when you submit. It's a redundant statement, if you think about it, because in order to be a novel, it has to be fiction.


I hope this helps. I wish you the best.

:)

Amanda Hubbard
10-27-2006, 12:57 AM
Agents do not make a dime until they've sold your work. A contract with a legitimate agent will include a clause that they cannot incur more than $150 (some say up to $300) of expenses in DIRECT CORRELATION with selling your work (messenger, copying, etc) without your permission. And they dont bill you for that stuff until the book is sold. YOU will never write them a check. The publisher pays them, they cut out their 15% (plus that extra up to $300 or whatever the contract says) and send you the rest.


I'm on my second agent now (the first one didn't work out) and both REALLY helped me editorally. Even as much as cutting out a main character or adding a new plot line. They know the market and they know what works.

My novel has only been out 2 weeks, to six editors, but she's already gotten it read by two of them (no's for conflicting reasons-- one thought the MC's were too young and the other thought they were too old- figures!) and if those editors would have even been willing to look at unagented work, i can guarentee you they wouldnt be picking it up for another few months yet without my agent.

They can get you more money, more author-copies of your book, less payments (you want 2 payments for your advance, not 3) a better release date, etc. They konw what they can negotiate and what they cant.

To me, an agent IS neccessary. But its not to everyone.

Live2Write
10-27-2006, 04:33 AM
Thank you for the replies. What's wrong with fictional novel? lol! So, I'm guessing introducing myself as a "novelist writer" is a bad idea too?

I didn't even realize I did that. Wow. Under redundant, see redundant.

Sheesh

Thanks so much for your advice. I love this board!

Live2Write