Agent or No Agent – Author’s Guide

Many of us authors ask ourselves the question, “Agent or No Agent?”  At the recent Life, the Universe and Everything (LTUE) Writers’ Conference, a panel discussed this very question.  Panelist included David Baxter, Bree Despain (M), Mette Ivie Harrison, Christopher Loke, Natalie Whipple, and Michelle Witte.

Some Key Points:


  • Queries are the key to agents’ hearts – they must be personable and specifically tailored to that specific agent’s personal tastes
  • To find agents you can use – beware of schmagents (schmucky agents)
  • Agents submit good manuscripts to editors – they have been tailored and edited so they are more likely to be accepted
  • “Standalone with series potential” –  not “series”
  • Agents are the businessmen/women – they have contacts that authors generally never will.  They can all up an editor and slide a manuscript to the front of a queue.  The old adage about who you know, not what you know, rings true with publishing as well.

No Agents

  • Speak to an editor as if you were an agent – take on the persona of an agent, not an author.  Think business and sales.
  • Look for key points in contracts where publishers will try and stick you – watch out for option clauses, publication restrictions, narrow scope, and language rights.
  • Sell yourself, then sell the idea – represent yourself and the ideas well.

Remember, everyone has to start somewhere.  For some people, that means working through an agent.  They can speak the jargon that publishers understand.  They can be the business person while you can focus on the creative aspects you love.  For some people, self publishing is the way to go.  They enjoy the entire business aspect of it.  Others will do any combination of the two.  Whatever it is, find what works for you.  Life if about living, not hiding.  When you decide what you want to do, go for it!

What are you thoughts on using an agent vs going it solo?  What have been your great experiences with agents?  Bad experiences?  What about those of you who went without an agent?  Please comment below and let us know!

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