For many years, signing with a literary agent was always the goal.
In 2010 I wrote my first novel. I queried it to a few agents, and by the end of the day, an agent requested the full manuscript! The joy I felt that night was like nothing I’d ever experienced before, and that joy kept coming in the years that followed whenever I queried a new novel to literary agents and got some requests for pages.
But nothing, absolutely nothing, beats actually signing with an agent!
When you’re an unpublished writer, signing with a literary agent always feels like the beginning of your writing dreams being fulfilled. Signing with an agent tells the world that you’re taking this writing thing seriously.
Signing with an agent means your book might actually be published.
There are certainly reasons not to sign with a literary agent, which I’ll talk about at some point. But signing with a literary agent should certainly be something of interest to you if you are considering traditional publishing for your work.
Here are five reasons why you should sign with a literary agent…
1. A literary agent will make your book better.
Some agents are more editorial than others, but I guarantee you that your agent won’t let your book go out on submission to editors until it’s ready. Until it’s nearly perfect. If that means just one edit, then consider yourself one of the lucky ones. My novel Monster Movie went through ten edit rounds before my agent send it out to editors, but you know what? The book needed ten rounds. It needed many, many revisions to be the best book it could be.
2. A literary agent will be there for you during the highs and lows of your writing life.
They’ll be there for you for pretty much everything. As someone to bounce ideas off of when you can’t decide what novel to write next. As someone to talk to when you’re struggling in the latest draft of your book and have no clue what to do next. As someone who will be your number one cheerleader. A really good literary agent will be there for you, always.
3. A literary agent will have connections in the world of publishing.
This, of course, is one of the big reasons to sign with an agent. There’s only so much you can do in your writing career without connections. And without a literary agent, it’s basically impossible to be published by any of the major publishing houses. A literary agent gives you the opportunity for your work to be considered by editors at these major houses, along with editors at some smaller houses too that only take agented submissions. And they’ll get your work to the best editors possible due to their vast connections and knowledge of the industry.
4. A literary agent will help negotiate your contracts.
Remember, literary agents only make money when YOU make money. Any agent who asks for a penny from you for any reason is someone you shouldn’t work with, shouldn’t trust. You should find an agent who is ethical and reputable, and who has experience and understanding of the publishing industry when it comes to negotiating contracts that will absolutely come your way eventually. Contracts can be confusing for the writer, and your agent will help you considerably with this part.
5. A literary agent will give your writing career credibility.
Once you sign with a literary agent, you’re basically telling the world that writing, to you, is serious business. This isn’t some hobby you’re doing on the weekend. It’s not just a way to pass the time. You’re telling the world, I want to be a published author, I want my stories to find an audience. When people ask what you do for a living, you should say that you’re a writer no matter what, but you should definitely say it once you have a literary agent, no matter if you haven’t had a book sell yet. It’s sometimes hard to feel like a real writer when you haven’t been traditionally published, but having a literary agent definitely helps.
Lastly, always remember to do your research.
Not every literary agent is the same. Not every literary agent is reputable. Make sure you do your research, first in agents who represent the kind of writing you do, and second in agents who have sold books in your genre and who will be someone you might like to work with.
I love having a literary agent. It’s so great to have that one person out there who believes in you, who makes you better in every way, who always has your back no matter what.
If you’re thinking of signing with a literary agent in the weeks or months to come, best of luck to you. I hope these tips will help as you continue in your writing journey!