Finding an Agent

I have been asked quite a few times, and written a few blogs, on the benefits of self-publishing as a route to getting a book published. Especially, when the budding novelist is experiencing what seems to be an endless flow of rejections appearing in their email box.

In spite of the rejections, they labour onwards in the hope that an agent, or even a publisher, will finally see the merit that their book deserves. This belief is based on the now played-out argument that traditional publishing is the only ‘professional’ way to publish, not self-publishing, which is still seen by some as akin to vanity publishing, the graveyard for failed writers.

Indeed, there is a feeling among some new authors that landing an agent will put them on track to securing a book deal – including a generous retainer – with one of the big publishers. Sadly, there is no guarantee of such an outcome, if you sign up with an agent who promises the world, but turns out to be a talker, not an achiever.

I mention this as someone who was taken in by an agent who required a £350 advance to cover his office expenses. At the end of a year with no publisher in sight and little information as to who might have seen my manuscript, I learned that the agent required the same fee on an annual basis! And this was on top of the expenses I’d incurred when travelling to London to find out how my book was progressing.

All too late, I discovered in a writer’s magazine the cardinal rule: An agent earns his 15% commission only when he actually gets you a deal for your book. So, writer beware of the smooth operator who promises all and delivers little, for your hard work and investment.

Of course, all of this assumes that the author’s book is worth publishing.

It is still a long hard road if you do succeed in finding a good agent, who, in turn, finds you a publisher. Even then, it will likely be a journey of two or more years before your manuscript turns into a book and ends up in a bookstore.

However, if you want to speed up this process, and are prepared to invest in your book, then self-publishing may well be the course you should consider.

One source on the subject of self-publishing, amongst others I’ve used, is  (N.B. No reward received on my part)


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