Thursday, November 12, 2009

Long Live the Agent?

Hey - I'm carrying on with the "OMG it's a release month, I must blog everywhere" thing and I'm over at Tote Bags 'n' Blogs today talking about my mother in law's fruitcake.  :-)

This article was brought to my notice via twitter yesterday.  There have been some comments made in various places about the relevancy of agents in the changing publishing market and some people being of the opinion that they are going the way of the dodo.

I don't think everyone HAS to have an agent, but I don't think agents are going anywhere and nor should they.  I certainly didn't have to have one to sell; I sold my first eleven novels without an agent.  Could I continue selling?  Probably. 

That doesn't mean agents don't have an important place in the industry - and of course you're getting this from an author's point of view so what I'm going to say is obviously biased in that direction.

I have always believed that successful people are successful because of several factors.  In simplest terms, I think success happens when preparation meets opportunity.  But if I look around myself at those authors that are most successful, I see that they surround themselves with the right people.

I'm not going to write a big long dissertation about it, I'm on a deadline.  But I will say that I am not an agent, or a publicist, or an editor, or an artist, or in marketing.  I'm an author.  I'm one member of a larger team whose members all play a part in my success.  Sure, I can learn lots about the business as I go along, and in fact I should, but my main job is writing books.  It is what I do.  It's my agent's job to negotiate contracts and help me make professional decisions - and a good agent is going to do that better than I could do it myself.  Not only that, my agent is my advocate and that is SO important.  My editor edits my books, sees problems, suggests solutions, and gets my book ready for the market.  I can't do her job better than she can.  I sure as hell can't navigate the waters of marketing and publicity as well as someone who does that for their JOB.  And why would I want to?  All of that takes time away from MY job, which is writing books.

With the face of  "traditional" publishing changing every day, I would argue the opposite, actually.  We need agents more than ever.  We especially need good agents with the foresight to see what developments will work to their client's advantage and which ones to avoid.  A number of things are changing with how publishers are doing business.  Let the people in the biz look after the biz.  Writers write.
Who do you want navigating those waters?  You?  Or someone with the expertise to look out for your best interests? 

Don't get rid of agents.  Just surround yourself with good people.

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