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Agent: Yes or No?

Good day everyone!

I am brand new here- I'm looking for a writing community to become involved in to help myself with motivation, and to learn some of the details. I have never tried publishing before, but am working on a novel that I would very much like to publish. There is so much information, and misinformation, all over the place regarding publishing, and I barely know where to begin. What is the benefit of having an agent? Is an agent necessary, or if you're willing to do the research and contact yourself, is it acceptable to send your own submissions to publishers? What exactly is an agent's role? Pros and cons?

I am a kindergartener in regards to this topic- please answer accordingly! 😅 

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Replies (3)
    • Hi, 

      It's a very big topic but I'll try to cover the basics. How you want to be published will determine if you need an agent. 

      1. You can self-publish — you can publish your novel yourself on Amazon and you don't need an agent for that. The great thing is that you have total control, however that also means you will have to do your own marketing and publicity and it will be difficult to get your book in main book stores.

      2. Small press — there are some small press and indie publishers who accept submissions straight from the author. They are smaller outfits so they don't have the same resources as the big publishers especially regarding, publicity, marketing and distribution, but because they are smaller they can offer a more personal feel. The publisher will buy the rights to your book and then you will work with an editor to make sure your book is in the best shape possible before publication. 

      3. Big publishers — they are known as the big 5 (Penguin Random House, Macmillan, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster). Each publisher has dozen or even more imprints. Big publishers only accept agented submissions (submissions made by an agent on behalf of the author they represent). They will normally publish your book in a combination of the following: e-book, hardback, paperback, audio

      I have a blog which explains how an agent will submit to publishers on behalf of their clients: https://www.laurevanrensburg.com/blog-1/what-happens-after-you-get-an-agent 

      Getting an agent is not an easy task. In the UK an agent can receive an average 3,000 to 4,000 submissions a year and only sign about 5 people, so the competition is tough. Each agent represents different genre and each agency have their own submission guidelines. Basically you need to get your novel as close to ready and polished as much as possible before submitting to agents. That is basically done through several rounds of editing, and getting people to read your work and give you feedback and use that feedback to edit your work some more. 

      This place will have lots of resources to help with editing and developing your craft. Good luck with your novel.

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      • I very much appreciate that you took the time to write this out for me :)

        Self publishing is not my go to; I have no knowledge of marketing, and none of the money to do all the little pieces myself... I wouldn't rule it out as a future option though. 

        I am working my way through my first revision, I completed a draft of the novel a few weeks ago and am thrilled to finally have a complete story, as I am notorious for becoming discouraged and abandoning my characters for years. This bout of effort feels different... I am more engaged and hopeful than usual. Another element I am struggling with however is finding those people to read and provide feedback... Again, I do not have any funds to do so. Previously I had writing friends, but that's no longer an element of my life. Any recommendations as to how to find interested parties to help? 

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        • The obvious answer is - ask us! There are plenty of people here (myself included) who would love to read your work, and give honest feedback - possibly in return for reading something of theirs. If you don't feel ready to share your work right away, why not start by offering feedback on others' work? No need to feel 'impostor syndrome' - and honest reader's perspective is often the most valuable.

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