Your Writing Career Without A Literary Agent: What Could Go Wrong?

Okay, so you never hear stories about literary agents finding the cure for a mysterious illness or single-handedly stopping natural disasters…but they can still be superheroes in their own right!

While hiring a literary agent is not a necessity for becoming a successful, published writer, it’s much harder to work smoothly with an editor. Here are some scenarios that may befall you, the writer, if you don’t have an agent:


You have to play the good cop and the bad cop. One of the most important things to have in the publishing world is a strong and friendly relationship with your editor. Building this relationship takes a lot of time and patience, but it will inevitably help your entire publishing process go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, things don’t always run smoothly when it comes time to negotiate with your editor. Without a literary agent to play the bad cop for you, you’ll have to get tough with your editor in order to get what you and your book need. This could severely damage the long-term relationship you worked so hard to establish!


You’re willing to give an inch, but your publisher takes a mile. How well do you know the publishing business? If your answer is anything close to “Uh…” you could be in trouble when setting up your contract. Here’s an example: Your contract might say that your rights will revert to you when the book is down to selling 100 copies a year. But what if 101 copies sell yearly and you expect that you could be better off elsewhere? You’re stuck! Having a literary agent during this difficult time is like having a safety net. And if you’d had an agent all along, he or she could have fixed this before it became a problem: Agents are there to catch any mistakes or loopholes you don’t see in your contract—at first glance.


Your publisher gives you a not-so-great deal. You’d like to think your editor has your best interests at heart, but the sad truth is this: Editors are trained to obtain new titles while spending as little money as possible. The only person this hurts is the writer—that’s you. Remember that your editor’s first loyalty is to his or her company. So this is where having an agent comes in handy! Your agent is trained to negotiate. An agent will make sure your book gets the kind of advance it deserves, because he or she does have your best interests at heart. Plus, literary agents know the ins and outs of the industry, including the going-rates for different publications.


You could accidentally limit your readership to only one language. Think of all those potential readers out there who can’t read your work because it isn’t written in their first language. Now think of what your fan base could be if you were able to reach out to them! Having an agent with foreign rights know-how can be an asset, because he or she can find deals suitable to your translation needs. Sure, some publishers will do this for you—but they’re few and far between.


So what’s the verdict? Do you need an agent?

Superhero Literary Agent to the rescue! If you’re looking for a paying book deal, having an agent in your corner will definitely help you find the right editor for your manuscript…and protect you and your manuscript all through its journey to becoming a book.


Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service that has been helping creative writers make submissions since 1994. Their work is highly recommended in the writing community, and there are TONS of freebies, publishing leads, and writers resources on their website. Check it out!

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