Why I have an agent

Today’s guest post is by Amy Reichert. I’ve had a few posts on indie publishing and small presses, so I’m really happy that she and Emery (see previous post) have provided us with the other side of the coin. I’m all about “fair and balanced”. 😉 

When Cassandra asked me to blog (and a huge thank you for that), she suggested I write about why I chose to go the agented route—I’m represented by the talented Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. My initial response was, “Why wouldn’t you?” But with the rise of small publishing houses and self-publishing, many do feel finding an agent isn’t worth the hassle. The queries, the rejections, dear God, the waiting. It can crush your writerly dreams like Snuffaluffagus on a grape. So, dear reader, your path to publishing is your own, but here are few reasons why I wanted an agent.

  1. Reassurance. You know that kid in school who always wanted the teacher’s approval. Or your co-worker that needs the pat on the head from the boss to feel good about his work? That’s me. I want someone in the publishing industry to read my book and say, “I read a lot of books and this is so good I will convince people to buy it and print it.” I don’t have the confidence or the balls to do that myself. I need the approval.
  2. Guaranteed Critique Partner. Critique partners are essential to making a manuscript better. If you don’t have some, get them. However, until you establish a solid circle of beta readers, it’s hard to tell if you’re getting the honesty you need. Many people aren’t comfortable telling you your writing sucks. Since my agent has a vested interest in my book being its best, I know she’ll give me high quality, blunt if necessary, feedback.
  3. Options. With an agent, I have all the options. I’m not limited to small presses or self-publishing. I could get a book deal with a big house, or medium, or still end up self-publishing (though that isn’t my preference—see the following reason). Together, my agent and I will discuss what is best for my book and my writing career, then work as a team to make that happen.
  4. Publisher. While having an agent leaves me with all the options, I really do want a publisher for my book. One that comes with an editor, a beautiful-cover designer, and people who know about paper, ink, and fonts. And maybe a little marketing on the side would be nice. I don’t want to do it all. I want to focus on writing and interacting with readers. Working with a publishing house gives me a team of experts who are there to help my book into the world. I’m willing to give up some creative control to have all that publishing knowledge.
  5. Negotiation. Unless I’m at a street market in Mexico (in which case I’m a badass negotiator), I suck at negotiating things. I don’t even like calling the cable company and asking for a refund when service goes out. My agent knows the industry and what would be a fair offer, what rights to give up, which rights to keep. She knows everything is open for negotiation. She will also play bad cop if I’m not happy with my publisher. This is good because I also don’t like conflict. I’m a midwesterner, I like to be agreeable and feed people.
  6. Knowledge. Legal contracts are complicated, nuanced beasts that even regular lawyers don’t understand completely, but agents eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. As boring as they are, it’s what makes the publishing world clunk along. I want someone who will have my back and make sure I don’t give away my left kidney in exchange for an ebook deal.
  7. Money. I like money and I’d like more of it so I can take fun trips with my kids and maybe pay for their books when they finally go to college. Yes, every dollar I make will have a slice removed for my agent, but I’m more than OK with that. I feel that with her support in selling my book and future books, her knowledge of the industry, her negotiations skills, etc… I’ll make more money in the long run than if I went it alone. Maybe even enough for a fancy treadmill desk.

Have any questions for me? Ask in the comments, I love to share my wisdom. If I don’t know, I’ll just make up an answer.

Amy Reichert is a first-time novelist, mother of two (three if you count the dog—and you should), beloved wife, spectacular procrastinator, die-hard Harry Potter fan, and amateur baker. She earned her MA in English Literature and worked for several years as a technical writer. When she’s not writing or reading, she’s taking the children somewhere, drinking hard cider, or collecting more cookbooks than she could possibly use. Amy is represented by Rachel Ekstrom of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

You can find Amy at Twitter or her blog.


4 Comments on “Why I have an agent”

  1. ST Bende says:

    Awesome article ladies. So nice to meet you Amy!

  2. sugaropal says:

    Wow, with the exception of not being a midwesterner who likes to feed people, oh, and not being a good negotiater ANYWHERE, those are the same exact reasons I wanted an agent and am thrilled to have one.

  3. Amy Reichert says:

    Thanks ST Bende. Nice to meet you too! 🙂

  4. Amy Reichert says:

    *high five to sugaropal* Way to go! Keep us posted on when there is a book to buy. 🙂

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