I’m about to put up the new Goals and Dreams post to help writers get started in 2013. But before I do, because of the great discussion after that last agent post, I’ve been having a very hard time trying to figure something out.
So I am honestly putting this out there as a question to see if someone can give me a real answer.
What can an agent do for you that you can’t do for yourself? (And not pay the 15%.)
Let me clear out a few of the basics.
— Agents are not needed to sell books. And they only know a few editors. You limit your chances to sell a book by going to an agent. (Done many posts and comments about this.)
— Agents are not needed to sell overseas books. You simply work with the overseas publisher directly. It’s called email, the same way an agent will work with the same publisher. Duh.
— Agents are not needed to sell into Hollywood. Hollywood comes to you and then you need a lawyer.
— Modern contracts are far too complex for an agent these days, and on top of that, most agents are not lawyers. So unless you are with a huge agency with a legal department, you do not want your agent negotiating a contract for you. It borders on being illegal, actually. (IP Publishing Lawyers are reasonable as Laura Resnick detailed out in a comment in the last post.)
— An agent can’t “take care of you” unless you mean “take all my money and not pay me anything.” They have upwards of 40 clients or more. They can barely take care of their own business, let alone yours as well. And in business, the worst thing you can do is have someone “take care of you.”
So what makes “getting an agent” as young writers say worth 15% of all your money?
And why is this myth about needing an agent so damn stubborn? I really am puzzled because if an old dog like me can finally catch a clue, I would think the younger, faster, smarter writers would be way ahead of me.