1. They will sell your book for you.
2. They keep current with editors’ tastes and needs, know when new imprints are starting up and when established ones are downsizing, stay abreast of changing corporate policies, keep track of who’s newly hired and who just got fired or laid off.
3. They will provide more editorial insight.
4. They will negotiate an excellent contract for you.
5. They will hold your hand throughout the editorial process which can be fraught with emotional and complicated details.
6. They will work to help you craft your career and make sure what you’re doing now progresses towards what you want to do in the future.
7. They will attempt to sell foreign/translation/film rights (if they don’t sell those rights to the publisher. Every agency is different in terms of who they partner with and what they think they can do a better job selling than the publisher and vice versa.)
8. One ugly truth in the publishing process is that you can get an awesome, amazing editor who you really click with and who totally gets you… and a few months later she can quit or be fired. And you get stuck with an overworked editor who doesn’t like your genre and is possibly 21 and only a few days out of college. But that can’t (usually) happen with your agent. While of course there are outs for both of you, if your agent leaves her agency for whatever reason (with a couple of exceptions like William Morris), she can take you with her. So your relationship with your agent can actually last much longer than your relationship with your editor, who can keep changing.
9. They are worth their weight in gold and will make your life easier and will get you more money.
Next week Carin will give advice on what to do when you get "The Call" from an agent!
Hear are the previous installments of this series: