Do I need an agent?

To have an agent or not to have an agent, that is the question? Yes, I ripped off Billy Shakespeare, so sue me! (Please don’t sue me!) Whether it’s nobler to suffer the the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune...I would love to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune if I could make some money being a full time author. I am totally not asking to make enough money to buy, lets say, a castle with a mote around it and have a pet dragon.

Nope, not saying that at all.

I would just like to brake even at first. Then maybe, start to write full time. I have read online (Yes, I know that getting information online can be tricky sometimes.) that writing full time is not all its cracked up to be. It’s hard work. You’re under pressure from your publisher/agent to hit your deadlines. and so on.

Well, let me tell you: I worked in the restaurant industry for over 20 years and that’s not all its cracked up to be, either. Long hours, never getting a weekend off, hot (and I mean hot!) working environment, and many times, head chefs, sous chefs, kitchen managers, owners not in the best of moods driving you into the ground on a crazy busy Friday/Saturday night. A crazy amount of pressure on all of us the back of the house to preform at the top of our game, every night! Coffee, energy drinks and a ton of water is all you see chefs drink on any given night. Lunch breaks and breaks, don’t make me laugh. Don’t even get me started on the wait staff and front of house people.

With that little rant being pushed aside, I talked with my editor, Jamie and asked he, bluntly, “Could I make enough money being an independent author to survive on my own or do I need an agent.”

And, I’m happy that she was blunt with me, she said that, “Yes, you will need an agent.”

It’s not like this news caught me off guard or anything. I always figured that I would need an agent at some point in time. The next question was the most obvious one, “Now what?”

Well, Jamie sent me a link to the AAR or Association of Authors’ Representatives (Link: http://aaronline.org/ ) This has a list of all the certified agents in publishing. She also sent me an easy way to track your queries that agents request with https://querytracker.net/ . I have not gone through this list, but if I query and agengt, I now have tools that I can use to figure out if the agent to legit of not. I’m not surprised that scammers would try and take advantage of authors who are looking for an agent.

If I query an agent, (Jamie just corrected me on this part. An agent will not reach out to you, you must query an agent first) or you’re looking for an agent, look them up. Go to Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram and any social media platform to see if this agent is actually an agent. Do your homework before even talking to an agent about anything. I’m just getting started in this great search on finding an agent. I hate getting ripped off just like anyone else. So, I’m going to do all the homework I can on my, essentially, my next employer.

Jamie also informed me that if an agent requires an “submission fee” for them to read part of or the entirety of your manuscript, they are full of it.(Jamie just corrected me on this too. Agents will not ask for money up front, if they do, they are bogus and you should flee from them.) From the information that I found online, these fees are not required by agents. So, if you get contacted by an agent, and they tell you they would love to read your manuscript but they need $200 first in submission fees, it’s a scam! These are the same people that call you to tell you that your car warranty is running out. (Hard eye roll here)

This next part is just me theorizing about agents. Please, oh please tell me if I’m wrong or right.

My brother played pro football. When he came out of college, he had agents all over him. He was a 3rd round draft pick, more agents were crawling all over him. I was 19 and a college football player myself at the time. The money that these agents were telling my brother he would make was crazy. Did my brother make a crazy amount of money over the next few years playing pro ball? I don’t know, but what I do remember was how the agents ate (figuratively speaking) each other to get my brother to sign with them. Hell, a few agents even took me, a broke college football player, out to lunch. (I loved those guys!) But their goal was to make money off my brother’s incredibly hard work and god given natural talent and athletic ability.

Being around that had, to be kind, formed a mental image of agents. Not the Jerry Maguire, friendly kind of agent who has their clients mental and physical heath in mind, but the I’ll do anything for the next buck even if it means (fill in the blank) to get him or her to sign with me.

Do I have a jaded view of agents. ABSOLUTY!

Lets come back to today, June 3, 2021. It’s #PitMad on Twitter and, I am told, there are agents out hunting new, potential clients. (These really bring the Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny vision to my mind every time I think of it.) So, I pinned my pitch, started to retweet a bunch of other writers pitches and just start to sit back and wait to see what happens. The next best thing about #PitMad is that it’s a huge networking opportunity for authors to meet other authors of different genres and cultures.

I have never had to deal with literary agents. I hope, through #PitMad, that I will have the opportunity to do so. I think that am prepared to research the kind of agent that I would be comfortable dealing with. Again, I don’t know much about literary agents and will come back to expand on this when I do.

But for now, make sure you do your homework on agents. Look them like you would a company you want to work for.

Thank you for reading this,

J.W. Berwyn.

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