I can hear the screaming already!
What??? Why do you even have to ask??? Whaddaya mean: "Do you really need an agent?"
It's an innocent question, and not one meant to rankle anyone. I'm just wondering aloud...
In my early days, when I first started writing, my instructor at the only writing course I've ever taken was not a fan of agents. Her point had more to do with economics than anything else. As she put it, writers make so very little these days anyway, that automatically giving away 10 or 15 percent to an agent was not fiscally sound.
Now, before you jump on me, I must state that I heard these words as I was starting out, and, although, they've obviously stuck, I did keep an open mind about agents (since all was and still is new to me).
I can see the advantages that an agent can offer, number one being: landing you a publishing contract. Bingo! That's what all aspiring writers ultimately crave, isn't it? To be published? For a new, unknown author, an agent can open doors, pave the way, and all that good stuff.
However, in my case, I thought I'd try things both ways. I sent out twenty query letters. Two of my letters were sent to agents and the remaining 18 were sent to publishing houses. FYI - I live in Canada and queried only Canadian agents and publishers.
I got rejection letters from both agents.
But, I was offered a contract within about 3 months by a reputable publisher, and my book is now in stores.
I'm not trying to be a naysayer, but in my case things worked out well (and rather quickly) doing it on my own.
I wonder how many aspiring writers focus on getting an agent rather than applying directly to the publishing houses? I also wonder about the relationship between (not getting) an agent and self-publishing. Hmmmm... Do many people try the other steps or do they look at publishing as an either or situation between agents and vanity press?
I would love to hear from writers and agents about the relationships, and pros and cons of working with an agent. I know there is still much for me to learn about the world of publishing and I am curious about your own stories and experiences.