Why Get an Agent? (BKSP notes)

Do we really need to bother with an agent?  I mean, we can upload our manuscripts to Amazon right now and have it on the Kindle almost immediately.  What do we really need agents for?

I suppose that depends on what we want to accomplish with our careers.  If you only want to get your memoirs out to the few members of your family and friends who want it, then you probably don’t need an agent.  But if you want to get your book to the right audience to possibly earn a living off of this hobby and passion, then it’s time to embrace the idea of an agent.

Agents are always thinking of the business side of it.  They know the value of a book and they know how to create value for a book.  They’re well-versed in promotion and have spent years in the publishing industry.  They have contacts and they know which companies are reputable and which are not.  They know how to do international promoting, which for a writer may end up being the work of a bachelor’s degree.  An agent can help you see the strengths and weaknesses of your book.  Here’s the way I see it.  Just because you can use Photoshop doesn’t make you a graphic designer.  Same goes for publishing.

Just your friendly neighborhood agent man.

Also, contracts are always written favoring the one who wrote it.  You can lose a lot of rights to your work if you’re inexperienced with contracts (which is likely most of us).  The agent wants you to get the best deal possible because that gets them the best deal possible.  They want success for you because that means success for them.

Agents were also asked what they thought would be an ideal client.  They said know how to promote yourself and your book.  Network with other bloggers.  The marketing side of it can be a lot more work than the writing side of it.  Know how to use social tools to help better market yourself and your book.  And be professional at all times.  Don’t put info out there that’s detrimental to your publishing.  Publishers Google you too.

Respond well to feedback.  Listen and apply what you’ve learned.  Now does that mean you bow down to everything your agent says?  Not necessarily.  They know something isn’t working and they’ve offered a suggestion on how to change it.  You may not like the suggestion, but that doesn’t mean ignoring it will fix the problem.  Ask questions so you can understand why it was something that didn’t work so you can change or strengthen it in a way you feel good about.  You may come up with a better idea for change than they originally suggested and then you’ll both be happy because the problem is fixed.  And lastly, the ideal client has mutual trust.  They know their craft.  Don’t pester them about how much promotion your book is getting, or comment rudely on another client’s website because they happened to be focused on them for a little while.  I think it still comes down to two words: be professional.

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4 thoughts on “Why Get an Agent? (BKSP notes)

  1. Great notes! It’s almost like I was there… ; ) I thought it was interesting that several agents said, even if a writer is thinking of going the self-publishing route, it’s still a good idea to get an agent who can help you navigate foreign rights, etc. Not something I really thought of before this, but it makes sense.

    It was great meeting you, and your note summaries have been really helpful, much more organized and concise than my random scribblings from the conference. Keep them coming!

    -Heidi

    • Thanks! You’re too kind. I hope Mystic Cooking is coming along nicely. I thought I was ready to work on mine, but I think I still need time to marinate a few more new ideas. Until then I guess I’m blogging.

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