Agents: Gatekeepers or Champions?

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Agents always get a bad rap when it comes to writers, especially those of us who’ve suffered through a butt load of rejections. Agents are too picky…They only want bestsellers…they’re only out for money…

And, well, it’s more than likely true. It IS their JOB after all. They only make money when their author’s make money, so it pays to be picky who they pick up, and if the author turns out to be a bestseller, even better! But there’s no guarantee that the book an agent signs will sell, let only become a bestseller, so…yeah…not really a valid argument to not have an agent…

Anyway, that’s not really why I decided to write a post.

It’s actually because of this. I’m not going to go into details, but if you read the post, you’ll get an eyeful.

The reason I’m writing, is that this is a classic example why getting an agent or having a literary attorney look over your contract before you sign it is a good idea.

Agents are more than gatekeepers. They’re your champion. They’ll make sure your book finds the perfect home. Which publishers are looking for your kind of book, which editors you’ll work well with, and what publishers to avoid. They’ll negotiate a contract that’s in YOUR best interest and if the worst happens and something happens with your publisher, they’ll help you figure a way out of the mess. They’ve “got your back” so to speak. Because they want you, generally, for your entire career. Again that whole if-you-don’t-make-money-neither-do-they thing.

If you absolutely don’t want an agent, you absolutely NEED to hire a literary attorney to look over those contracts. Just because a “publisher” claims their contract is author friendly, doesn’t mean it is. In fact, it may be downright predatory. And a literary attorney is going to be able to spot the nuances that a normal contracts attorney isn’t going to be able to see.

Now, I’m not saying the most commercial publishers are bad. If you’ve done your research, then chances are you’re not going to run into a vanity press in disguise, but there are enough scam publishers out there, that you really need to be careful.

So, in my opinion, it’s just easier to find an agent who will walk with you through every step of the process. Who will listen to your gripes, help you brainstorm new book ideas and generally help guide your career down the path you want to take.


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