Someone that I follow in Twitter asked a question about the need of Literacy Agents in this day and age of the book world. She wanted to know if we felt that they were still needed. My response basically that since I had spent a large number of years in the book business, that I felt that they were needed once fame had hit.
Now I don’t want to put people out of work, but in this day and age of “self-publishing”, many people really don’t need agents to get their works out there. When I put together my book () I had choices on what I could do. I could of sent small portions of it to different publishers with the hope that one of them would of been interested, I could of sent it to an agent in hopes that one of them would be able to get it into a publisher, I could of gone to a place like Kinkos and had them make copies, or I could of done which I did and gone to a “print on demand” place.
Now each of these have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is really up to the author as to which way they want to try. I choose the way that I did because my title is a religious service book and where I am hoping to be able to push in places that I don’t think publishers would think of going, plus a new author has to do most of their own promotion anyway. Publishers also have the right to stop carrying the book and can make other choices that one may not like and Royalty payments aren’t always that great. But publishers can be a great help in promoting a title.
What is nice with an agent is that depending on what type of book you have, not only can they push it harder for publishers to carry, but in some cases they can help one get an author and their title into signings at book stores and other places. Agents do much of the work that some authors really don’t have the time to do. Yes it is going to cut into ones royalty, and one of the problems an author has to deal with is the fact that unless one is already well known, they won’t always have the time to really give it the full and proper attention that ones needs.
Agents are also great in that even though you may of gotten your title edited by someone, they know editors in the book business whose job is not only to edit ones book, but they have a great idea on what sells based upon the look of a book. As much as we say “Don’t judge a book buy it’s cover”, each of us have passed by or bought a book based on the cover. One of my favorite books is titled “Coal” by J. Jason Grant. It was the cover of the book that caught my eye and caused me to buy it. When I put my own book together it took me a while to figure out what to use as the cover and in fact the new book that I am working on I am spending a good amount of time thinking about what I want to use as the cover.
With the way that things are going in that more and more books are being made for iPads, Kindles and other electronic readers, and with with the Internet making it so easy to upload ones works, agents are and will become harder harder to find as their services are less and less needed.
But what are some of the advantages of “self-publishing” and why did I choose to go the way that I did? I knew what how I wanted things in the book to be, and I really didn’t want anybody else changing things around. One of the things also is that even though one has to purchase an ISBN#, it’s ones to keep (in my case I used one from the place that I self-published through,) so if the title went from one publisher to another the ISBN# would most likely change. With the company that I went through, and also with many others, my book went onto Amazon and I was able to get it onto the Barnes & Noble website along with other places.
With fewer and fewer book wholesale and distribution companies around, along with fewer and fewer independent book stores around, getting ones book onto shelves has become even harder. I think that the best thing for a new author in most cases is for one to self-publish and to work at getting it onto Best Seller Lists, as once that happens publishers and agents will be reaching out to you.