Do I need an agent as an unpublished author?
Even though I am not necessarily a published author, should I have an agent signed up and ready to go, just in case?
Absolutely not! More and more well-known, popular, and published authors are doing away with their agents and self-publishing. Only five percent of authors are being published by big trade publishers. The royalty is nearly nil once the publisher, agent, marketers, and distributors have taken your money. Your best bet is to do it on your own if you can. It would even be cheaper for you to go with a book marketer to relieve you of those duties. Your return will be much more.
Earlier this year, I received a letter from Barnes & Noble stating that they carry more self-published books than they do books by trade publishers. Their return on trade published books is only five percent of all their sales. That really blew my mind!
Doing it on my own is an interesting thought, but since I don't know the ropes when it comes to negotiating, wouldn't it be worth the money to have an agent on hand?
You will learn a ton from the author, Marilyn Ross. She has been on both sides of the industry. The title is "The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book" - the best reference.
While you don't technically need an agent, they do play an important role in the publishing industry. Agents know the field, which means they can negotiate better contracts for you, get you on the desk of important people, and help manage your public persona. The agent is the person who can take the book you've sold to a few friends and get it into the minds of the general public. However, they are notoriously hard to please. Unless you have a strong catalog of published short works, they usually won't even consider you. If you have a completed manuscript that you'd like to sell, they're worth looking into (the legitimate ones don't charge to read query letters and snippets). But if you're not looking to market a specific book, they they may not be best for you at this time.
Thanks for the input, but what if I am approached by a Producer directly, shouldn't I have an agent at this point in time. Also, wouldn't an agent find me very interesting if that were to happen?
Any time you're going to enter into a contract, it's good to have an agent on your side. And, if producers have found you noteworthy, then it would be worth mentioning to a potential agent.
Phil Farand of "The Nitpickers' Guide to..." fame told me an interesting fact. He said that, for the most part publishers don't want to talk to you if you aren't selling books.
This means that agents are going to be picky about representing someone that publishers don't want to talk to.
Another thing Mr. Farand told me is that you should start selling your own book on the electronic forums (Amazon.com for example). If you make the right choices for price and format (epub, pdf, ect) you may find you don't need a publisher to actually make a pretty penny writing. Just remember that you will have to do your own marketing, but there are many useful resources for that now too.
An agent also does not want to be "signed up and ready to go, just in case". They don't make any money if you don't make any money and won't use their valuable time being in a fall back position. It's hard enough to get one to talk to you so you can submit a finished work so they can tell you if they want to represent you.
I think I feel a Hub coming on about being your own agent/publisher/distributor.
I wish you the best!
Thanks for the input RGNestle, see my reply to MT Dreamer to see my dilemma. What if I am approached by a TV producer asking me to "Interview" about a story. I have no clue what to say or do, ergo an agent would be nice. Really baffled by this.
If I were approached by a producer, I would absolutely get an agent. That fact alone would be one of the main reasons for getting an agent. It also would be one of the main reasons an agent would want to speak with YOU; good money making odds!
Thanks, Well this happened so fast I don't know what hit me. We were contacted by a Reality show producer, and we were interviewed within days.
We didn't get any money for this, and I think I should have had an agent. So I missed out on this one.
Thanks everyone, you have all been helpful. I think that I missed a money opportunity, but I'll be ready the next time... Next time a TV producer wants to talk to you, get an agent in a hurry..... Sigh.
I have to wonder if this is how this generation of Producers are avoiding royalty and other intellectual property rights. They go out looking for unsuspecting people with the promise to "Put you on TV!!" and that only works the first time. But that is all they want. Now they have their story at no cost.
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