I decided to put together some articles about publishing your work. The articles will examine things like different genres, self-publishing, publishing tips, children’s books etc. I thought I would start with some thoughts about literary agents.
Are you a writer who would like to get a book published? If you are, you may have heard that you should hire the services of a professional literary agent. Yes, there are several benefits to using a professional agent, but is one really needed?
As for whether you use should use the services of a literary agent, there are a few key factors that you will first want to take into consideration. One of those being your book. Have you already drafted your book? If you have not, you may be at an advantage. For example, you can take the time to first research publishers and what they are looking for. When you can tailor what you write to exactly what most publishers are looking for, you are more likely to see success, even without the help of a professional agent.
If you have already drafted your book, you may still be able to get it published without using the services of a professional agent. What you will want to do, however, is find the publisher or publishers that are the perfect fit for you and your book. This will involve a little bit of research on your part, but it is often a lot cheaper than using a professional literary agent. As for how you should proceed, if you are a science fiction writer, only send your book manuscript to publishing houses that are looking for science fiction books, as opposed to those who are requesting romance novels and so forth.
Although it is possible to get a book published without having a literary agent by your side, there are times where a literary agent is needed. For example, many of the larger, well-known publishing houses do not accept manuscripts from authors who are not collaborating with an agent. If you have your heart set on seeing your book published by a larger, well-known publisher, as opposed to a lesser known, smaller publisher, an agent may be in your best interest. If you do decide not to use a literary agent, just be sure not to send your book to publishers who request that their authors have agents, as this can create a bad image of yourself.
If you do decide to hire the services of a professional literary agent, you will want to proceed with caution. For starters, anyone can call themselves a professional, but that does not mean that they are. For your best interest, it is worthwhile to research and examine several literary agents before making your decision. Compare costs, quality, and success rates. If you are targeting a specific genre, such the children’s market, try to find publishers that specialize in the field of children’s books.
For the ultimate level of protecting your best interest, examine literary agents who only get paid when your book gets published. In all honesty, these types of literary agents and agencies are few and far in between and many only extend this offer to a limited number of authors, but you do not have to worry about losing money.
As a recap, there is no rule stating that a literary agent is required to get a book published. That does not mean, however, that you cannot benefit from using the services of one.