General Question

dausonlovi's avatar

Is it easier to publish with an agent or go solo?

Asked by dausonlovi (23points) June 18th, 2009
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11 Answers

MindErrantry's avatar

I don’t know this first-hand, but I’ve been told pretty firmly that it’s best to go with an agent. I had a few friends who interned in publishing houses, and they said that often, manuscripts without advocates don’t even get reviewed by the decision-makers.

That being said, some publishing companies are specifically seeking to publish ‘unknown’, first-time writers, so I think you’d maybe be all right without an agent there.

Darwin's avatar

All the writing seminars I have been to say it is best to go with an agent because unsolicited manuscripts are very rarely read.

However, it is easier than ever to self-publish, get an ISBN assigned, and sell your book online.

DarkScribe's avatar

It is effectively impossible without an agent. Most publishers won’t consider unsolicited manuscripts – there are jut too many of them. We get several hundred a month. They don’t get read.

As for company’s “Aggressively Seeking” unpublished authors, they are without exception scams – a variation of a vanity publishing company looking for suckers. They have no distribution capability and their press costs are excessive.

A publishing company earns by selling books. They don’t sell very many books from unknown or less than competent authors. There is no shortage of well written MSS being hawked by experienced and reputable agents. They don’t need unknowns. It is nonsense.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Agents know more industry people than you do. Very few successful writers got successful solo.

kerryyylynn's avatar

I would think the best thing to do is to go with an agent, because without one youd have virtually no connection to the writing industry. Plus, he/she would be able to provide you with counsel, as well as make it so you dont have to do all of the work yourself.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

The rub is that it can be as hard to get an agent to read your work as it is to get a publisher to notice. And I’m sure you’ll meet people who will promise to look at your work – as long as you pay them. A reputable agent will work on commission. If they want money up front, you are being scammed.

Normskiiz's avatar

Agent the best way to go !!

wundayatta's avatar

How do you get an agent?

dausonlovi's avatar

Yeah, how do you get an agent?

Darwin's avatar

According to this guy this is what you can do:

“Find out who the agents are for writers in your genre and then scan the web for their home page. Are they accepting new clients? If so, submit the first three chapters, a brief (1 or 2 page) synopsis and a short cover letter asking them to represent you. If you don’t know how to write a synopsis, here are 99 of them, critiqued and commented on by a real agent.

In the cover letter you state your previous publication credits, if any, and also what other work you have in the pipeline. Include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for their reply. That’s the general idea, but you should check their guidelines for more.

One of Miss Snark’s regular readers posted a comment detailing her search for an agent here. Excellent advice within.

See my article on rejection for more on this topic.
The bad news is that agents are just as flooded with manuscripts as editors, and therefore they have to be just as picky. Don’t be surprised if you have trouble at this stage. A lot of trouble. The good news is that there are more agents than publishing houses, and once you get an agent they can make a better approach with your manuscript than you can. If you burn up all the publishers with your manuscript, what are you going to do next?

Think of getting an agent as a step or two up the ladder of publication… an agent will only sign you up if they believe you have something they can sell. And they’re in a better position to sell it than you are.”

This person gives another but similar take on the process.

Neil Gaiman (one of my favorite writers) gives some useful points from people he knows who are in publishing.

The first thing to do, of course, is to start writing. Next you might consider getting shorter pieces into publication, such as short stories sold to magazines, so you can show you can meet deadlines, tolerate being edited, and can write something at least some people want to read.

DarkScribe's avatar

An agent who does not have a successful “stable” of writers can be less useful than no agent at all. It can be a very difficult situation, with no “Eureka” moment with regard to solving it. The reality is that there are always going to be a high percentage of well written, potentially great MMS never seeing print. For every book published, tens of thousands are rejected or not looked at.

With computers, authoring software, easy research, almost everyone you meet “has a book project” in some stage of development. I am reluctant to let anyone know what I do when in social situation for fear of being deluged by several hours of “next best seller” opinion. They all have a book that is far better than anything currently making the best seller lists – if only someone would look at it.

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