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Why Query An Agent Instead Of Going Directly To Editors?
There are many ways for authors to get their works out these days. Among the methods of publishing include: self-publishing, e-presses, print on demand, and using independent publishing houses. However, there are many reasons why an author should use the traditional path of going to an agent who will submit his book to an editor. Let’s first break down the relationship between editors and agents.
Agents are responsible for the first step of the publishing process which is the manuscript submission phase. They find the projects that are worth presenting to publishing houses by ‘filtering’ out submission that don’t have much promise. Also, agents develop a close relationship with editors and understand exactly what publishing houses are looking for. Agents are therefore considered by editors as trustworthy sources of submissions.
Why should you query an agent first?
First of all, major publishing houses will not even look at an author’s work if the author is not introduced by a literary agent. Authors who do not want to use agents could go to independent or university-affiliated publishing houses to have their books reviewed without the need for an agent. However, they will have no help when negotiating contracts and dealing with many other issues that may arise. Using agents is the best way for authors to get the best contract and a hassle-free relationship with their publishers.
Another reason why an author should take his book to an agent first is effectiveness. Agents have contacts with many editors and know what editors from various publishing houses are looking for. Therefore, an agent will quickly know the best editor and publishing house to pitch a book. When an author queries an agent, it is like he is talking to dozens of different editors at different publishing houses. An author’s chances of getting into bed with top publishing houses are greatly improved when he uses an agent.
There is also the question of tradition and protocol. Although it is not a must for an author to use a literary agent, using one demonstrates that the author is professional and understands how the industry works. Although some publishing houses do not demand that authors’ works be brought by agents, reputable ones make it a requirement.
By using literary agents, an author can be assured that there is someone on his side with his best interests at heart. Agents negotiate to get the best contracts for their authors and tactfully intervene to protect their authors’ books from developments that might affect their marketability. Authors also enjoy more control over their work when they deal with agents.
Simply put, agents help to put more money in their authors’ pocket. Whether it’s about negotiating contracts, advances, or percentages on royalties, agents always look for the most lucrative deals. This is because their payment is inevitably tied to the payment that authors received.
There are some people who get book deals without ever dealing with agents. Do these people benefit more than they would have if they chose to use agents? The truth is that these are exceptions brought about by the changing publishing climate. Not many of them have an easy time without the representation of an agent.