Do you need an agent if you are crowd funding? Alice Jolly
Many articles about the book world at the moment seem to suggest that agents are under threat. Since apparently 25% of books are now independently published, in one way or another, then is there much point in having an agent? You would think that the answer might be no but, oddly, my answer at present is yes, yes and yes.
Admittedly, my situation is so untypical that there is little that most people can learn from it. I am currently publishing a book which is neither independently published or published by the mainstream. Instead I have crowd funded through publishers Unbound. As Unbound are a very new phenomena, I'm learning on a day by day basis what this means, how it works. To be honest, I think Unbound are only a few steps ahead of me.
What I say today might change tomorrow. But so far, unexpectedly, I have needed my agent in this process more than when I was published by Simon & Schuster. S & S are, of course, very much a known quantity. They have huge experience. When I was dealing with them my agent did help me by pushing through my comments on covers etc but there really was not much else for her to do.
With Unbound it has been different. Firstly, my agent was the one who put me in touch with Unbound. I had already found them on the internet and I could have just sent my book there myself. But I know, in reality, that the fact that the book was sent by an agent meant it was looked at more quickly than it would otherwise have been.
She also helped me with the contract and that was important. Again, it isn't a standard contract, none of this is a well trodden path. She has also helped out with pushing things forward and making sure things happen. Also she is helping to hire a publicist which is something I would not have known how to do.
Could I not have done this myself? Well, yes and no. I think most people could have done a lot of this themselves but I am very bad at these things. I always feel myself at a terrible disadvantage when dealing with publishers. I don't know what is normal. When someone at a publishers says to me, 'It is going to be like this, this and this.' I have no idea whether what they are telling me is right or not. Doubtless I should be better informed but actually I just want to get on and write another book.
As I say, there may not be many lessons to be learnt from all this (other than that I should go on an Assertiveness Training Course). But I do think it is interesting that, although the role of agents is doubtless changing, if you take an unconventional publishing route, you can still finish up in a situation when you need an agent more rather than less.
Here is a link to a recent article about my book in You Magazine:
And one of the photos from the book (our front drive):