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Do I Need an Agent to be a Successful Author?

No, you don’t need a literary agent if you are going the self-publishing route with your books. My saying that is probably going to raise the ire of many literary agents, but I always try to give you the truth.

Literary Agent

a professional agent who acts on behalf of an author in dealing with publishers and others involved in promoting the author’s work.

Typically, literary agents work for literary agencies to pitch authors’ ideas to publishers and television and film producers. If you are self-publishing, then they may be a waste of money. However, if you are actively pursuing a publishing house deal or trying to sell the rights to your work for a film, then they are indispensable. Direct contact by authors is rarely seen as appealing by publishing houses or motion picture studios.

How much does an agent cost?

Most often, literary agent fees range from 10% to 20% of the sales (or deals) they generate. A good agent has plenty of contacts within the publishing and film industries, so the fee is well worth their credibility and contacts.

That said, if you are not pushing to find a publishing house or get a film deal, then there is really no good reason to employ an agent other than to be able to say that you have one.

Can you self-submit to publishers and motion picture studios?

Of course, you can, but not with the impact of a reputable agent. You can directly query many of the publishing houses and most of the Hollywood production companies. Unfortunately, they are not likely to take you seriously unless the pitch comes from an agent they are familiar with.

Here are my recommendations for aspiring authors who are going the initial route of self-publishing:

1. Skip the agent until you have at least two or three books on the market.

2. In the meantime, hone your craft and find your niche while developing a following.

3. When you write your “masterpiece,” DO NOT self-publish; send it off to publishers to accept or reject.

4. If you have a book that you believe is worthy of a movie deal, then query the film studios.

5. Once you have established a following and honed in on your niche, find a qualified and reputable agent to pitch your work.

In summation, you don’t need an agent to be a self-published author, but it doesn’t hurt to have one.

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