Needing an Agent is an Irrational Fear…
I said that in a webinar today and got a couple comments later from writers who had heard it. And it dawned on me that even though needing an agent is based completely in irrational fears, most writers don’t understand that. Even though it is obvious to me.
So here I am again, trying to talk logic at a myth once again. Almost always a failure, but I keep trying. And Kris and I talking about agents sure stirs up the trolls out there. Wow, you would think it was us that just recently stole the 3.4 million from writers instead of agents.
So logic. I am going to first say it bluntly…This is 2018 and there is no reason at all to use an agent. You can communicate easily with anyone you need to and hire a lawyer for contract help (instead of an English major.) But writers are afraid.
So the fear is described in many ways.
Example One: “But I want to sell to traditional publishers and I can’t do that without an agent.”
First off, lets skip the idea that any writer with a brain would sell all rights for the term of a copyright to their original work to a traditional publisher. Another topic. But the writer has a dream of selling to some baby editor in New York and have their book sprinkled with fairy dust to make it sell more than indie books. So let them dream.
The fear is that they can’t get to editors. Uhh, no. Just do it the way Kris and I used to do it. I sold over 100 novels to traditional publishers and my agent never sold a one. Not one. I sold them all. How? I talked with editors.
Yes, they are real people looking for books. Honest, no matter what you have heard.
And the entire time I sold all those books the guidelines to every house said no unagented submissions. But guess what, if an editor asks for a novel, it is not a submission.
At conferences, I have gotten good laughs more than once seeing editors sitting at tables not talking with anyone while writers lined up to talk with agents. The myth is strong. Agents don’t buy books. Editors do. Duh.
So it is a fear that you might do something “wrong” and not get your book sprinkled with the fairy dust. No thought, just blindly following a myth like all the other sheep. Sad, but fear based.
And stunning to me that there are so many writers who actively want to be sheep in the process.
(Note: I will not help you be a total idiot and sell your book to traditional publishers and lose your copyright. So please don’t ask me how to meet editors. If you can’t figure that out on your own, indie publish.)
Example Two: “But I want to sell my work to overseas markets.”
First off, that is the major area that agents steal from writers. And you most certainly don’t need an agent to talk with overseas publishers. In fact, they won’t. It is a myth that they do. They put your book on a list and send it to some agent in another country and that agent just shows around the top writers on the list.
So how do you get in contract with overseas publishers? Ever heard of email and the internet? Duh. When Kris and I dropped our agents well over a decade ago now, suddenly we got a lot more offers from translation publishers.
And how do they find our books? Let me think… Oh, yeah, we publish them wide all over the world ourselves and they find them or have them recommended and publishers read them. And then the publisher goes to our web sites and looks up our email and emails us.
And if you understand copyright, you know the contract must come to you in your native language. Of course, most writers don’t know that and agents scam writers all the time with that ploy. And most overseas contracts are simple and time-limited. And an hour of a lawyer’s time is cheap compared to agents.
So not understanding a few simple things and fear keep writers from seeing through the agent ploy on this one.
Example Three: “It’s too much to learn and I need to hire help.”
Translation, you are too damned lazy to learn your own business. All based on the fear of missing something if you do it yourself and also based on self-doubt. Trust me, agents will not help you, but they will help themselves to your money.
I could go on, but basically, there is not an aspect of a writer wanting an agent that isn’t fear based. Not one.
And there certainly is no logic to giving your gardener 15% ownership in your home for mowing your lawn.
There was a time in the industry where agents were needed. That time passed about twenty years ago. Writers need to step into this new century, grow a pair, learn their own business, and get past the fears.
You don’t need an agent in 2018.