What an agent does:
An agent represents an author’s book to publishers. Some agents represent the author’s work as a whole. Some prefer to represent individual manuscripts. The agent takes a percentage of the author’s royalties. If you find an agent you think would be interested in your work, you submit your manuscript for his or her consideration. If she is interested, she may request revisions before offering you a contract. After a contract has been signed, the agent will move forward on finding a publisher for your manuscript and submitting it for consideration. When an interested publisher is found, the publisher will likely also request revisions before offering you a contract. The agent represents your rights in negotiations with the publisher.
Pros and cons of getting an agent
There are pros and cons to having an agent. You will need to decide what you are most comfortable with and what makes the most sense for you.
- A representative in contract negotiations which could potentially result in a better deal.
- Professional editorial feedback before you approach publishers.
- Possible access to a wider range of publishers or more credibility with those publishers.
- Generally, agents take a fee of 15% of royalties.
- Communication between authors and editors is indirect as it goes through the agent instead.
- Time that could be spent researching, networking and preparing submissions for publishers is otherwise being spent on researching, networking and preparing submissions for agents.
Where to look for agents:
In Canada, we don’t have many big kids’ publishers. Most are independents that are open to unsolictied, unagented submission. If you are interested in researching agents, here some useful links:
- www.agentquery.com – includes other resources for writers as well.
- www.caseylmccormick.blogspot.com – includes many interviews with agents.
- www.publishersmarketplace.com – database for researching agents, editors, deal types and stories that are selling. (Can access month by month for $25 USD/mo.)
- www.publishers.ca – list of Canadian agents compiled by the Association of Canadian Publishers.