If you’ve finished the bulk writing and most of the editing of your novel, and if you’re starting to look at publishers and submission requirements, chances are you’ve wondered whether it would be worth it to get a literary agent. An agent could pair your book up with the right publisher and slip in a good word for you while submitting, but often the process of getting an agent can seem just as daunting as getting a publisher to accept your work, except that there is still no guarantee that your book will make it to print at all. So is it really worth all the extra effort? I believe the answer is a resounding yes if you’re hoping to go for serious publishers, and here’s why:
- Agents are open to new writers. Although many publishers will allow authors to submit their own works, there’s a long line of people wanting to get their books published, and the newbies will fall to the bottom of the priority list. That means a longer wait for you and a much higher chance of rejection. Publishers are reluctant to take a chance on a new author when they could safely stay with an older and more successful writer. Agents, on the other hand, specialize in getting new books out there. Agents are genuinely open for new authors and will be much more interested in seeing what you have to offer than a publisher.
- Agents know what it takes. Without being strictly on either the writing or publishing end of the spectrum, agents have seen the publishing process from start to finish. They know how it works and what it will take for you to succeed as an author, and they’re willing to help you get there.
- Agents know the field. In addition to their familiarity with the publishing process, writing agents are often already familiar with a lot of the publishers out there and which ones will be open for something new. This can save you a lot of time browsing through lists and sending blind submissions!
- Agents can put in a good word for you. Without an agent, your manuscript will likely remain buried in a stack of other manuscripts from new authors and will likely be ignored. An agent, however, can act as a special link between you and prospective publishers. If your agent submits your novel instead of you, the publisher will be much more likely to listen and give it a try. The word of an agent can make or break your career!
- Agents save you a lot of time. I mentioned that in previous points, but it’s worth bringing up again. If you decide to go with an agent instead of submitting everything yourself, you will be saving yourself time, effort, and needless rejections. You won’t need to spend so much time looking up publishing companies, sending out multiple submissions, or waiting to hear back. Though getting published is still a long process in itself, getting an agent can fast-forward your progress.
There is a disclaimer here: though I have researched and read up a lot on the process of getting an agent, I have never gotten one myself. Lately I’ve been more interested in self-publishing and focusing on writing instead of publishing. I might be wrong on some of my facts, but from everything I understand, an agent is absolutely necessary if you want to go anywhere with the big publishers. Give it a try when you’re ready for publication!