Friday, March 21, 2014

Can writers manage without a literary agent?

 From quite some time I have been noticing that literary agents and big ones at that have left the publishing industry. The first agent to do that was Nathan Bransford. Then I read about agent Mary Kole leaving the publishing world to start her editing services. Then I read about agent Anna Webman leaving the publishing industry. Three big agents. Actually dream agents. With fantastic deals under their belts. With amazing clients.

On the other hand, I have seen that many lawyers have started their own agencies. They have turned literary agents. It’s a scary thought. For the simple reason, that these people come from a profession that is so different from writing or publishing. I was under the impression that literary agents are former editors or people with a literary background.

A close blog buddy of mine told me that she has changed her agent three times. And none of the agents have been able to sell her books. That scared the hell out of me. All these things are making me rethink my writing or I should say publishing agendas.

Am I doing a right thing querying agents? I have said time and again that in India we approach publishers directly as there are no agents. My two previous books and the current one with Scholastic have been published that way.

I would like to know what do my writing friends, blog buddies and other writers think about the entire literary agency scene. Can a writer manage to get published without a literary agent? Can a writer take a leap into the publishing world without the support of an agent? Does having a literary agent guarantee a publishing deal? What’s your take on the entire literary agency scene? I would love to know your views on this.

P.S. Tomorrow 22nd March is my fourth blogoversary. With all the renovations going on at home I completely forgot about it. 


  1. Congrats on your blogversary. That's so awesome you got published without an agent and fantastic it's with Scholastic.

    I do think some people can be published without an agent, especially if it's a smaller press. And yes, having an agent is no guarantee your book will sell or that it will be successful enough to sell the second book.

  2. I don't know much about the traditional publishing scene - Actually, I don't know anything about it :)

    I know one thing though - literary agent is not required to publish a book on Kindle :) Happy blogversary...

    Destination Infinity

  3. Happy 4th Rachna. Your question is out of my area of expertise, so I'll just read what others have to say.

  4. I've not made a fortune, but I have enjoyed three Amazon best sellers with my small publisher and no agent. I never even considered looking for an agent. I guess if you want to be with a big publisher, you'll need and agent. But otherwise, not.

  5. Congratulations on your 4th blogoversary. I suppose I have one coming up too, when I think of it.

    I recently parted company with my agent, and am wondering whether to look for a new agent or just approach small publishers, so I read your post and the comments of others with great interest. I'll be mulling it over for awhile.

  6. Happy Blogaversary! And congrats on your renovations!

    As far as agents go, I really don't know since I purposely went Indie without even shopping around. Well . . . actually, I did so some window-shopping of agents, but didn't see any that I thought would suit my book. So, I just went for Indie.

    I have heard that small presses are a great way to publish, and I don't think you need an agent to approach small presses.

  7. I've had three agents. The last one sold my debut novel, but I parted ways with her. I'm going to sell things through small press for a while until I'm ready for the 4th.

    Years ago I thought agent representation meant a contract on the way. It doesn't. I've seen people who've been agented for years going unsold. Or they have to go back to querying because their agent left the business.

    Happy blogiversary.

  8. I've never looked for agents because I just wanted to self-publish, but its such a scary thought to see the way things are changing. I'm curious to find out what's in store for the future of publishing.

    Happy blogiversary!!!

  9. Hi Rachna,

    I cannot really answer your question. I'm very much independent when it comes to my writing. Okay, I do have the help of a certain dog who is an acclaimed pawblisher.

    Sorry to not be of any help. I'll just leave that to the experts.

    And now we wait for the arrival of your fourth year of blogging. Hearty congrats, my friend.

    A peaceful weekend to you.

    Gary :)

  10. Congratulations on your blogiversary!

    Five-ten years ago it was pretty hard to get published or noticed sans agent, but today there are so many more opportunities to succeed without one. I finally stopped looking for one and decided to go indie, though I wouldn't mind potentially having an agent somewhere down the line. An agent is no guarantee of getting published quickly, and one could easily have numerous books out by the time it takes to get an agent, be accepted by a publisher, and finally get into print.

  11. I think the publishing world is in the middle of a big shake up so not really sure what role agents will play. I can see why lawyers would get involved though, lots of writers will probably feel intimidated by contracts.

    Moody Writing

  12. Best wishes on the anniversary of your blog! May it conquer all the heights, Rachna!

  13. Happy Blogversary! Three Cheers for a fab blog.

    Good Question. I think you are wise to question whether to bother with one. I would were I in that position.

  14. Congrats on your blog anniversary:) I think I started the same year you did. As far a agents go, the industry is changing so much. I don't think agents will entirely go away, but they're definitely diminishing. Many big authors have dropped their agents because they make more money by cutting out the middleman. So long as you write good stuff, I think the key is to keep writing. One way or the other, it will get to its audience:)

  15. Congrats on the anniversary.
    If possible isnt it better to get a direct contact with the publisher?

  16. I'm... not submitting to agents anymore, since I'm not exactly seeing what I'm paying part of my royalties for.

    That said, I might change my mind in future, if it suits me.

    Happy bloggerversary. :-)