Tuesday, August 6, 2019

To Agent or Not to Agent...

Do you have, or have you ever had, an agent? Depending on your experience, mount an argument for or against having one.

From Frank

My short answer is no.

The long answer is...too long and winding for this post.

Here's the medium answer.

I tried to get an agent back when that was about the only way to get published - that or a publisher who took unagented submissions. At the time, though, I wasn't ready. My work wasn't polished enough, and any agent who took a look was right to pass. I got some nice feedback, but no offers to represent.

Then I almost signed with an agent before I figured out it was a scam. I'm grateful for the forums that existed online at the time who kept me from being victimized by Desert Rose Literary Agency.

I made an effort a couple of other times many years later, after I'd already established myself in the genre. One was at a time when the "great divide" between trad and indie was at its height. I suspect that having some self-pubbed titles put a little tarnish on me.

The last time was couple years ago, when one of my co-authors and I decided to shoot for an immediately larger audience for the book we'd finished. We queried a ton but ultimately didn't secure an agent. A few mentioned their main concern, and it was what I had suspected was the issue all along -- the novel centers upon a controversial police shooting of an unarmed civilian. It's a risky topic.

So at the end of the medium answer, we're still at no.

The thing is, that's okay. I like being a hybrid author. I have a great relationship with a small press that publishes part of my catalog. I get plenty of input with those titles. The remainder I publish myself, and I have total control there. More and more these days, it's an approach that works, at least for me.

Sure, there is still the occasional prejudice within the industry that I'll come across for being unagented or having published independently. But I try to ignore that, because I'm convinced we all travel our own journey. Some of my friends and peers found an agent and are with a medium publisher or even a big five. I'm happy for them, and they seem to be happy for me, too.

Life is often about timing. Some people catch the right agent with the right book at the right time who finds the right publisher, and they sell thousands of books. Some people take a chance on self publishing the right book at the right time and sell thousands of books. In both instances, what matters most is that we reached readers.

Now, I'm not forgetting about all of the things an agent can do for her client. There's plenty, and over the course of the week, I suspect you'll hear a few of those stories on this blog. It'll be good information to have. But what I can say is that I've gone his far without an agent, and right now, I'm doing fine.


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7 Criminal Minds said...

A very thoughtful answer. Thanks for sharing your agent journey, Frank.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

It sounds like you're your own best agent, Frank. And it's funny how it often seems it's easier to find a publisher on your own than it is to find an agent to find the publisher.

Frank Zafiro said...

Thanks, folks. I really do believe everyone takes a different journey, and there isn't a right or wrong one, at least if we're considering the ultimate goal -- to write, and to be read.