Wednesday, October 4, 2017

To Agent or NOT to Agent, THAT is the Question

You know that moment when you look at your manuscript that's as edited as it can get--but who are we kidding, you'll still find things you want to change--and you realize you're done? Like, really, truly done? 

If you haven't, it essentially feels like you've just seen a really good movie and you can't wait to tell some one, but then within 30 seconds someone walking out of the same theater says that movie was lame.

You loved it. But also now you're terrified to go and say it.

It feels kinda like that when you've finished your manuscript as good as it's getting. And then, from these feelings you realize you have to make another  bigger, scarier, decision.

Do you find an agent or not?

This is the face you'e making right now. I know because I can see you.

Now, there are pros and cons to agents, if you decide to get one. For your entertainment (and because you know I love lists) here are some of the pros and cons!


-They can shop your book around to the highest echelons of publishing houses

-They know how to make good book deals for you (you hope.)

-They will be your biggest advocate (because they have to feed their cats too)

-They'll instill in you, the belief that you'e actually not as crappy a writer as you believe yourself to be.  (I'm not going to lie to you and say that you'll feel like a real life legit author if you self publish. There's a lot to be said for getting picked up by an agent and major publishing house. But that's for another post)


-There are more writers than there are agents

-If you don't get an agent or land one right away or ever you tend to feel you're failure in your field (it's okay. We all got rejected. A LOT. It's okay to have this feeling/thought. It's normal) for a long time after

-It makes it next to impossible to get picked up by a traditional publishing house (unless your freaking Andy Weir.)

-You'll probably get fat from eating cake from all of the rejections

There's a lot of options in this day and age as well. You can self publish or you can query to an online publishing house (which isn't the same thing as self publishing). Both of these fields mean that you're going to need to know how to do the following things well:

-Market yourself

-Have 1 to 20 platforms (Both agents and small publishing houses will sometimes ask you what your platform is. That simply means are you on twitter, FB, Instagram, snapchat, YouTube, whatever. They want to know if you have followers or a place they can market your book, should they choose you)


-Know how to make products for your books

-Have money (or connections that you sold your soul for) for people or companies to promote you


If you can't do any or all of this, you're going to have very little return on your book, and you'll be tossed into the internet ether that is the 99 cent book slush pile.

You right now. It was me too. Don't throw it away!

So here's the thing. Do you get an agent? Do you try to shoot for the moon of landing an agent and therefore, most likely a publishing house? There's a super incredibly cheesy expression that says "If you shoot for the moon and fail you'll still land amongst the stars."

But you know what? It's kind of true, for all the gooey cheese factor. Don't sell yourself short by not querying agents because you're scared you're not good enough. And I know how terrifying and daunting it is to decide to search for an agent.

You have to search for them (Agentquery is a WONDERFUL source list of agents actively looking for mauscripts), then see if the agents have published books in the same vein of your book (or at least the same genre). Then you have to write the perfect query and the perfect synopsis and then sacrifice your liver to the Drink Gods as you wait for a reply.

You have to give a piece of your soul to strangers who don't know you or the agony you went through to write your precious baby.

It's fucking terrifying.

your face after you hit send. 

You know what's more terrifying then hitting send? NOT doing it. I remember  having all my things in order, my query ready to send to the very first agent on my list. I literally sat the for 5 minutes trying to work up the courage to hit send and laughing nervously. But I hit send. I did it. And after that first query, it wasn't so hard to hit send on the others. But it's scary.

So the answer to the question of should I get an agent or not is this: TRY.

TRY to get an agent. Don't not query because it's scary or work. At the end of the day, it's better to have tried than to face yourself in the mirror and say, "I have a manuscript in my folder and I'm not going to do anything with it."

And if you get sick to death of trying to get an agent, there's always online publishing houses and self publishing.


Do what I do, and look up all the famous authors who got turned down 50 times for 3 to 4 years before they go picked up. Some authors even got rejections with notes back saying "you'll never amount to anything" and "This is drivel." No joke.

Me, trying to comfort you and be supportive

What has been your experience? Did you give up after only trying once? Have you not tried at all? If so, why not? What do you think agents can do for you that self publishing or online publishing houses can't?


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