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Do you need an agent?

July 29, 2007

This was the penulimate question asked at the BlogHer07 Blog to Book and Back Again session.  There were two authors on the panel and one agent.  The answers were ok, but they negelected one very important point.  Depending on what you want to write, the answer may very well be YES.  There are some categories at some houses that will not look at your proposal unsolicited, for issues ranging from time (so many proposals, so little of it) to legal (can’t take the risk of being sued for “stealing” an idea).  I know several categories at Wiley that function that way. And since so many of the amazing soon to be authors in that room were probably looking to publish in those categories, that’s a bit of information that would have been helpful.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. July 30, 2007 1:37 am

    I enjoyed meeting you briefly at the conference. Thanks for posting those links.

    Warm regards,

  2. July 30, 2007 7:57 pm

    It’s great to see another Wiley colleague blogging, and it looks like it’s shaping up to be a good one!

    I also posted some thoughts on agents your readers might find useful :

    In some cases you are correct – an Agent is a must have. But even in cases where an Agent is not required there might be reasons to consider one – dealing with contracts for example.

  3. July 31, 2007 2:45 pm

    Thanks Chris – I added your blog in a new section for all Wiley colleague blogs. Well, at least the ones we want everyone to know about. 🙂

  4. Julie permalink
    August 1, 2007 2:54 pm

    Yes, I need an agent. HELP

  5. August 4, 2007 2:01 am

    I believe what most writers want to know in general is “Can I sell a book without an agent?” The answer is “yes.”

    But yes, the answer is “no” if you wish to sell to certain houses or lines.

    Of course, if you know the editor at given publishing house it’s different. When I get around to finishing a new novel, I’ll send it to ____ at _____, where she will read it because I worked with her years ago and I’ve agented to her for another writer. So she’ll bend the “no unsolicited manuscripts” rule. The novel still has to be good.

    But don’t slow down your writing to find an agent. Just WRITE. If it’s a novel, submit it to multiple agents and to multiple publishers (let them know it is a mult;iple submission). Why do I advise that? Because you will never hear back from three-quarters of those to whom you submit your novel. Among most of the rest, your manuscript won’t get read for 6 to 18 months. Having worked in publishing, I understand the sitaution with all the mss. coming in. But as a I writer I see no reason why a manuscript can’t be out there being read by editor A while it is sitting at the bottoms of piles on editor B’s and editor C’s desk. (If you do this an get two offers in the same week, email me. I can tell you how to handle the situation and come out ahead.) To put it another way: It’s not taking anything away from an editor who won’t read your manuscript for a year, if you show it to an editor who will read it in a month. And getting fast feedback–even if it’s a polite “No, thank you”–is particularly important for new writers.

    Nonfiction books are a different situation. With the exception of the bestseller Crosley, I’ve never written a non-fiction book without having a contract. I talk the book around at the proposal stage, so it’s not held up for six months or a year the way novel manuscripts are. I work from the proposal level because I like to develop the book with the editor.

    Back to the agent matter: I see too many good, publishable writers wasting time because they think they must have an agent to be “professional.” It ain’t true. I’ve written just a few books, and I’ve agented and I’ve done acqusitions editing, so take my word for it.

    If it makes you feel good to dither around trying to find an agent and complain to your friends about the difficulty of finding the “right” agent, do that. The rest of us will keep writing.

  6. November 13, 2009 7:02 pm

    My name is Elizabeth Walker I am a new author for my first book with Arthur House.

    I’m not too happy the way things are turning out I did know that I needed to agent my next book.

    Will be a hard copy so I would like to find out how does it work the name of my first book,

    The collected Works of short stories and poems I didn’t know that I had to promote my own book,

    If you could let me know some information I would really appreciate it thank you/


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