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Do I Need An Agent?

Do I Need An Agent?

The question every writer must ask themselves.

Recently I was in the hallowed position of having one or not. My choice.

After reading up on the subject, I decided that since I was contracted with Heartsong Presents I didn’t need an agent. HP contracts are pretty standard and having an agent wouldn’t do me much good. I planned to get an agent before I made the transition to longer books. Not that I didn’t want to write for HP anymore, but it was a chore for me to write that short. I didn’t feel I had many 50,000 word books left in me. So I put my plan in action. For my second series geared toward HP, I made the sale myself.

But poof: After 20 years, Barbour cut the Heartsong Presents line. After the end of the year, the line and the book club will no longer exist. My 2nd book in the current series will be an e-book and since I hadn’t signed the contract for book 3 yet, I’m off the hook for the November deadline. Barbour might buy it eventually to complete a three-in-one collection.

Boy do I wish I had an agent. As is, I feel adrift. My editor, my advocate no longer works for the company. An agent would serve as my advocate and help me get my foot in the door for the longer lines with Barbour. In hindsight, I should have hired an agent before I signed the contracts for the second series with Heartsong.

The best way to find an agent is to meet one at a conference. ACFW has dozens of agents in attendance. I’ve discovered that if you’ve studied the craft until you’ve reached a publishable level, you can get an agent. Many writers get a nibble on a book, then find an agent. Or sometimes, the agent comes first. But in the changing world of publishing, you need an advocate.

I’d stick with the tried and true agencies that have been around a while. Pursue an agent prayerfully. A bad agent is worse than having no agent. This person will represent you and your career, so choose wisely. If you’d like recommendations, feel free to e-mail me at stvauthor at yahoo dot com.

  1. Jenny Carlisle08-08-11

    After meeting Terry Burns at the Called to Write conference, I am preparing myself and my book so that an agent will want to represent me. Not easy, but Terry stressed that they are looking for clients with books that are ready to publish and sell. That’s the plan. This group is helping me along the way!

  2. Shannon Taylor Vannatter08-08-11

    Hey Jenny,
    Excellent choice. I’ve heard only good things about Terry.

  3. Pamela Stephens08-09-11

    Thank you Shannon for your post! And thanks for sharing your personal experience–let us know how it goes! We appreciate all the advice! 🙂

  4. Sheila Covey08-23-11

    I know I am late in reading your post–but it is sooo very good and timely. Thanks Shannon for sharing your story–the whole publishing world sounds so scary to me.

  5. Shannon Taylor Vannatter08-29-11

    Hey Pamela,
    I currently have two nibbles from agents. One wants a finished product because we’re talking longer books than I’ve written so far. The other is reviewing. We’ll see. Either way, I’ve got to get busy on finishing my current project.

    I don’t think anyone’s journey has been as full of hard knocks as mine. God is trying to teach me something. Maybe patience. Didn’t mean to scare you off. Surely your journey will be smoother.

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