I love talking shop with people and answering writing and industry questions, but I always feel kind of weird posting about it. But I wanted to expand on something we were talking about in chat last night that I didn’t get to say because I got really hungry and my brain crapped out. I mean, ’cause I ran out of time.
First off, the most common reason I hear that people think they need an agent is because they can’t handle the contracts themselves. This is very true! But it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. You probably already know all the obvious reasons why you NEED an agent (even if you make your sale yourself, get an agent ASAP)–they have contacts and can get you a good book deal, they handle contracts and keep you from getting screwed, etc.
But what you might not know is that an agent–a GOOD agent–is like your mom.
Yeah, you heard me. Not like your agent tells you to be home by midnight and bakes you cookies or anything, but a good agent is like having a mom around because not only do they handle the hard, grown-up stuff like contracts, but they believe in you. They always have good things to say about you and tell everyone who will listen (thankfully, unlike real moms, they don’t have embarrassing baby pictures of you). They’re super supportive of your dreams and your work, and they’ve got your back if the outside world gets too scary or things don’t go how you planned. They make scary phone calls so you don’t have to. They can set up play dates phone calls between you and your editor/potential editor. They’re always happy you called or wrote, they’re always on your side, and they share your triumphs and your downfalls. And if there is bad news, your agent knows how to tell you in the best way possible, so you still come out feeling good about yourself.
That kind of stuff is invaluable. I speak from experience, having had both a not-so-good agent who barely spoke to me and gave up on me when my book didn’t sell right away, and having had an absolutely awesome agent who’s everything I just described in the above paragraphs. Handling the contracts isn’t the top reason for having an agent, it’s icing on the cake.