Writing Wednesday: Do I Need an Agent?

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There are some people that a writer needs to have in his or her life. Do you need an unbiased editor? Yes! Do you need an audience? Yes! Do you need an agent? Well, that answer is more complicated.

Like in the sports world or entertainment industry, agents are those people who try to sell you (and your product) to the highest bidder. They create demand, push your interests and – if all goes according to plan – make you money. However, working with an agent does mean giving up a certain amount of independence, and whatever money they make you comes at a price (literally and figuratively).

So if you look for an agent, what can you expect?

What Agents Do

  • Aim to sell your manuscript for as much as possible (you make money, they make money)
  • Receive hundreds and hundreds of inquiries, so be memorable in your outreach
  • Drum up interest from a variety of publishers
  • Stand by their clients
  • Offer opportunities for growth (in terms of overall reach and financial rewards) that you may not be able to find yourself

What Agents Don’t Do

  • Edit your manuscript like a first draft proofreader
  • Wait for you to find them
  • Become unnecessary once you find a publisher – yes, they will help you get published but will also represent your best interests even after that happens
  • Read your mind (speak up for yourself!)
  • Demand loyalty prematurely (you should definitely court multiple agents so you can be sure to make the best connection possible)
  • Work for free

So What’s the Right Choice?

This may sound like a cop-out, but the answer is truly different for every writer. The most important thing is to be honest about the type of representation you are looking for. Do simply you want a helping hand or someone to take you completely under their wing?

Once your manuscript is where you want it to be, start reaching out to a variety of agents and make your pitch. Once you have some bites, it’s time to listen to their pitches so you can determine the best fit for you.

And after all that, you may decide you’d rather keep the full pie for yourself, even if it means doing more legwork in terms of finding a publisher, or doing that part on your own, too.

About Paperblanks: At Paperblanks, we believe that art should have a place in all aspects of life. That’s why we follow the artist’s way in everything we do – creating, crafting and releasing designs we believe have the power to touch people. For more about Paperblanks, go to our website at paperblanks.com.

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