Self-publishing, for many people might be seen as a way of skipping the middle man when it comes to getting your book published, and if you are skipping the bureaucratic red tape that come with using a traditional publishing company, who should you not also skip the agent that connects the author, the manuscript and the publishers?
The answer is that agents are a lot more than just the middle man, they are there to help writers with every stage of the process and over any and all hurdles that those hoping to publish may face. While many see agents as an obstacle, they are in fact a helping hand to guide you through, and while it might seem like a nuisance or even an unnecessary expense, here is why you should opt to use an agent despite your reservations.
- There is no way around it, as a published, or soon to be published, author, you will come face to face with contracts and paperwork along your way. This could be with distributers, printers or even publishers themselves if you eventually go down that route. Your agent will be there to review those contracts, ensure that they are mutually beneficial, and modify them if necessary.
- An agent is not just interested in your finished product, they are interested in you. This is where they differ hugely from publishers, because agents want to ensure that you (and therefore they) have a successful and lengthy career, and thus will help you to develop a strategy for the bigger picture. The agent will look at the full vision of everything that is going on, leaving you to worry about the choice of font, the jacket cover and whether or not that comma is necessary.
- Agents are well connected, it has to be said, and so any relationship you have with a literary agent will automatically lead to relationships with other beneficial people, including editors, proof-readers, marketing geniuses, major book retailers, distributers, printers etc. and, if that is what you want, eventually traditional publishers.
- Agents, while they used to be known as the gate-keepers of the publishing world, are actually now more like gate openers, and having adapted to the new world of self-publishing, most literary agents are willing to listen to you are your desires for your book and your career, and help you to get where you want to go.
Of course, there are some drawbacks from using an agent, including the commission payments, those that are stuck in the past, and the feeling of being lead down a path that you don’t want to go, but those disadvantages can easily be overcome, and really it is about whether or not you want the extra help.