Why You Need an Agent, Even if You Go Indie

If you’re an Indie writer, you might be thinking, “Well, I sell all of my books online myself. I don’t need an agent.” Well, you just might be wrong. If you have good success as an Indie, or even moderate success, there are three instances where you may want an agent:

  1. When big publishers come knocking. If you sell large numbers of books on your own, paper publishers will want to start carrying your works. A fan here on my list recently had that happen—his self-published fantasy novels took off big, and now he has several publishers around the world wanting to carry his books. This is great for him. You see, the most effective advertising for a book is point-of-sale advertising in a bookstore—having your book advertised by sitting face-out on the shelves or in a display, and unless you go through a well-established publisher—one that has a genuine marketing department whose representatives hand-sell to the major chains—you’re not going to get that kind of advertising. (Small publishers and self-publishers just can’t do it. They either don’t have the contacts or the know-how in order to properly promote a novel.)
  2. To make foreign sales. A good literary agent will have ties to foreign editors and agents so that he/she can sell your books in countries where the electronic market isn’t as robust as it is here. You might think, “Oh, I don’t want to sell in Romania anyway. It’s such a small country.” But I know many American authors who make the bulk of their income from one or two small countries. In fact, an old friend whose books tanked in every other country became a multimillionaire after her sales topped the charts in a small European country.
  3. You’ll need an agent to exploit Hollywood rights. Now, when I say you will need an agent, I don’t mean that you will need a literary agent in New York. I mean that you will need a Hollywood agent in California. From what I’ve seen, very few literary agents understand the real complexities and pitfalls of trying to make deals in Hollywood, and most of them don’t really have the contacts they would need to exploit in order to interest filmmakers.

Over the next few days, I’m going to talk about what need to look for in dealing with an agent, and I’m going to tell a few horror stories.


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