Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Tip O'Day for Authors #190

Guest blogger Sara Curran-Ross wonders “do I really need an agent?”

...(received) yet another rejection letter from a literary agency. Ah, yes my favourite topic of torment, literary agents. There doesn’t seem to be any way to please these people in my experience. Replies from literary agents in the past have ranged from apologetic to pompous and arrogant. But yesterday I got a new variation. I had gone back to a couple of agents after getting three publishing contracts hoping this time I might have more luck. Hmmm, scratch that! In a very short, one-sentence, abrupt, bordering-on-rude reply, this agent informed me that she doesn’t take on anyone who hasn’t obtained an advance of a certain amount from their publisher. Talk about a slap in the face.

Rightly or wrongly I felt like a loser. I am fed up with twittering agents who rant and rave about writers who don’t follow their submission rules to perfection. But when I see how many writers are now ditching their agents, it prompts a question, do I really need an agent? I’ve managed so far without one. Perhaps it’s time to realize that in these changing times, writing is not just about generating stories to share but a private business. As they say, if you want something done, do it yourself!


  1. I feel for you, Sara. Been there and finally decided to go the self-publishing way, you know the evil, "vane" method of publishing. The question that finally pushed me into this was "Why do I want to publish a book?" Is it to make millions of dollars, or to have others read it? I chose the latter, though I would like to at least break even. You might look at my site(www.miltmays.com) and John Locke's Blog and site(Donavan Creed). I'm going to try the agent route again with my new book, and not looking forward to it. It would be nice to have my own editor and someone else pulling for me. But, it all has a price tag, and theirs is pretty steep.

  2. "... writing is not just about generating stories to share but a private business."

    That's a good perspective to latch onto. Now think about the time invested submitting customized queries, reworking the dreaded synopsis & modifying YOUR work to satisfy someone with zero investment in YOU. Not a very good business model. In fact, the effort to 'chase' detracts from building your business - writing & promoting more books.

  3. I was always unpleased with royalties of about 10% (or less) against doing most of the work. Especially, if an author fiddled with his book for about a year. If I had chosen to live and work as an author, at least it should fill my belly and pay for my living. In my country (Germany) only a small number of 3% of authors can write for their living.
    So writing in Germany is a hobby for most writers. Earning money is left to publishers and agents.
    Hooray to the eBooks! Now the market is upside down. Publishers have overslept the beginning of an new era, and ask a higher price for poorly formatted eBooks than the print. Misunderstood authors see their chance to get their share. You have been through this for some time now and I am curious, if we get a similar situation in germany.

  4. These are all very interesting comments with good points raised. Being a writer is as much rewarding as it is frustrating.

    Sara Curran-Ross