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View Full Version : publisher vs. agent question



bookfreakguy
06-04-2007, 09:11 PM
I'm new to the book business. Just finished a non-fiction manuscript and am now trying to get it published. So here's my question: What does going through an agent and possibly having my book published by a big publisher do for me vs. just finding a smaller publisher on my own?

I actually have two agents considering my work and I'm pretty excited. But why is that advantageous to me going to a university press or some other small publisher that doesn't require an agent? Everything I'm reading says even with big publishers, I will pretty much be responsible for marketing. Of course, my royalties will be less AND I will have to pay an agent. And with a big publisher, the book will likely take longer to hit the stores.

I started shopping for an agent because, being new to this, I thought that was the thing to do. But now I'm really starting to wonder why I'm doing it. What am I missing here? Thanks!

Siddow
06-04-2007, 10:04 PM
A good agent will keep you from getting screwed. And they can offer career advice. Plus, you get the added benefit of starting conversations with, "My agent said..." ;)

Crinklish
06-04-2007, 10:34 PM
I'm an editor, and even I would tell you to get an agent. As the many knowledgeable people here will tell you, an agent doesn't just lie back and collect his 15% of your blood, sweat and tears. A good agent will negotiate a better contract for you than you could on your own; will serve as your advocate with the publisher as your book goes through the editorial process; will harangue your editor/publisher/what-have-you about any problems so that you can still appear to be made of sugar and spice; and will help guide your writing career so that you're not just a one-book wonder.

Admittedly, my expertise is not in serious nonfiction, but I still think the agent's role as moderator between publisher and author is an invaluable one, and not to be taken lightly.

Will Lavender
06-04-2007, 11:37 PM
Everything I'm reading says even with big publishers, I will pretty much be responsible for marketing.

Untrue.

If you can, get an agent.

Sandy J
06-05-2007, 12:06 AM
It depends on your genre and what you hope for your career.

I believe an agent has been beneficial to getting my work into places that it would not normally be seen. I adore my agent.

Jamesaritchie
06-05-2007, 02:57 AM
Agents make writers a lot more money than the writer can ever make on his own. Agents know the business, and you do not. Agents have contacts that you lack. Agents can handle foreign sales that you wouldn't even know about. Agents can also land you a lot of work.

Yes, you'll give the agent 15% or everything you make, but you'll make a hundred, or a thousand percent more in the long run. Agents do not cost writers money, agents make writers money.

An agent is worth five times her weight in gold.

As for Everything I'm reading says even with big publishers, I will pretty much be responsible for marketing.

No. I don't know what you're reading, but you never got this from a big publisher, or from a pro writer who writes for a big publisher. It simply isn't true.

Claudia Gray
06-05-2007, 04:46 AM
There's work you have to do even if you do have an agent and a big publisher, but they can do stuff for you that you absolutely cannot do for yourself. I would be utterly lost without the good agenting advice I've gotten.

Stijn Hommes
06-05-2007, 12:04 PM
For a start a big publisher is very likely to get your book into a large number of book stores. If you went with a small press, you'd have to handle that too. Everything people said about agents in the posts above is pretty much it. They don't just cost money, they get you better deals.

ChunkyC
06-06-2007, 12:58 AM
Everything I'm reading says even with big publishers, I will pretty much be responsible for marketing.
No, you won't be 'pretty much responsible.' The publisher does the work of getting your book in front of the people who buy from the publisher: bookstores. Can an author do that nationwide on his or her own? Not likely. Big publishers, many of whom won't consider un-agented writers, have teams of salespeople who push their lists to chains like Barnes & Noble. Small publishers have much smaller sales departments.


Of course, my royalties will be less
No, a decent agent will get you a higher royalty rate than you could get on your own, almost guaranteed.


AND I will have to pay an agent.
Sure. But would you rather have 85% of a $10,000 advance, or 100% of a $5,000 advance?


And with a big publisher, the book will likely take longer to hit the stores.
The amount of time it takes varies from publisher to publisher, regardless of size. And even if it did, so what? I'd much rather wait a bit longer than have it come out in half the time and sell half as many copies.


ETA: If anyone needs evidence that a good agent is worth their weight in gold, check this (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=1384525&posted=1#post1384525) out.