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For writers who want to be published traditionally, agents are key. In fact, oftentimes getting an agent is the first hurdle on the path to eventual publication (well, after writing a book, and editing, and everything involved in writing a polished manuscript, that is).
But why are they so important? And what do they really do for writers? Here are just a couple things agents do that make them so invaluable:
- Get your work in front of editors. The fact of the matter is, most big publishing houses won’t accept unagented submissions. In order to even reach the step of getting big publishing houses to even look at your work (and, more importantly, get your work in front of the right editors for your particular manuscript), you need an agent to represent you and your work.
- Contract negotiation. So your agent submits your work to editors, things go well and there’s an offer on the table. Congratulations! But your agent’s work is far from over.
Most writers know very little about the ins and outs of a publishing contract (and even most who do have a good idea as to what all those terms mean don’t often feel confident enough to argue the finer details). Agents, unsurprisingly, are extremely well-versed in publishing contracts. They know what rights to hold on to and what rights to sell, they know what goes into a contract, and most importantly, they know how to negotiate for the best possible deal for you.
- (Possible) editing/polishing. Some agents do this and some don’t, so if this is important to you, you need to make sure to choose an agent who is editorial. Agents don’t have to help you edit your work, but some do before sending your work out to editors to make sure it’s super shiny first.
- Professional supporter of awesome/ career guidance. Your agent is always in your corner. They get excited over you and your work, they’re there to help you figure out what direction to go with your career, and all in all, they want the best for you and your career. It’s a business relationship (which is important to remember), and it should be a positive one.
For extra information on what an agent is (and isn’t), literary agent Carly Watters (PS Literary) wrote two great posts on 6 Things to Expect from Your Literary Agent and 6 Things You Shouldn’t Expect From Your Agent. Definitely worth a read, whether you have an agent or not.
Do you think agents are important for writers? Why or why not?
Why are agents so important? What do they really do for writers? @Ava_Jae breaks it down. #pubtip (Click to tweet)
How important do you think agents are for writers? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)