Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Why My Agent is Still Needed

top_of_the_rock_IMG_6159_I’ve read a couple of excellent posts recently on whether agents are about to become extinct…and possible options for them, career-wise. They make for very interesting reading. One is by Anne R. Allen and the other is a PBS story.

Many agents are lawyers, though (mine is.) I worry a little less about her. :)

But I can definitely see this being a problem down the road for agents. I’m not sure how far “down the road” is. It could be a problem five years from now…it could be a problem next year.

For me, though, I need an agent. Still. Even in the current climate. I can’t see that changing anytime in the near future. Here’s why:

I’m traditionally published.

I don’t understand many parts of my contract.

I hate keeping track of when I’m supposed to be paid. My agent hunts down checks and payments.

I hate keeping track of my foreign rights, e-rights, etc.

I don’t enjoy negotiating contracts (I did it once, before my agent, and it made me feel very uncomfortable.)

My publishers require me to have an agent.

My agent pushes me to think about a long-term career plan, goals, and methods of getting there.

My agent haggles over money for me, during contract negotiations.

My agent acts as a first-reader for me before my manuscript is sent to my editor.

I like getting a tax statement at the end of the tax year (which my agent provides for me.)

I like the fact that my agent makes relationships with editors and finds writing leads for me. She’s the reason I have the quilting mystery series. I can’t be in New York, I don’t have the opportunity to schmooze…wouldn’t know how to schmooze if I had the opportunity (I’d be sitting on the sidelines, watching everybody, creating characters in my head while eating spinach dip.)

I like the fact that my agent runs interference for me. When I am talking with or emailing my editors, I’m just dealing with the creative side of the industry. I’m the fun one to work with. My agent is the one who presses for things on the business end….I don’t have to be the bad guy. I don’t want to be the bad guy.

Would I do the above if I had to? Of course I would. But I’m already writing books and promoting them. Those two things are full-time jobs in themselves.

At some point, will this change? Well….I just can’t imagine that it won’t change in the twenty plus years that I hope to still be in this business. It would be silly for me to think it won't change, with all the industry changes that have happened in the last year. But for right now, this is an arrangement that works really, really well for me. My plan is to continue what I’m doing with my editors, agent, and publishers, and to explore the e-publishing side on my own, in my own time.

What do you think is the future for agents? In your current situation, do you need one, like I do? Or are you able to work independently of literary agents?