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The Write Question is a weekly video podcast all about writing. Today’s question? When do you need an agent? If you have a question you’d like me to answer you can email me, tweet me @pubcoach, or leave a message for me at the Skype account, The Write Question.
When do you need an agent? That’s the topic I’m addressing today in The Write Question. I’m Daphne Gray-Grant, the Publication Coach.
I have a question from Marta Pereda Sancho, a writer based in Madrid, Spain. Here’s what she’s asked by email…
“I paid a company to help me publish my book, but the company didn’t help me promote it. They didn’t teach me how I could advertise my book or sell more, or how to use social media. Now, I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to hire an agent who could help me send my text to a traditional publishing company.”
Thanks for your question Marta. I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been caught in the trap of the so-called hybrid option. It sounds as though you’re unfamiliar with publishing, so let me give a quick explanation.
Generally, there are two main routes to getting your book published:
(1) Traditional publishing. This is where the publishing company takes on all the expense of editing, designing and printing, and then pays you a percentage — called a royalty — for each book they sell.
(2) Self-publishing. This is where the author takes on all the risks — paying for the editing, designing and printing themselves — and reaps all the rewards.
I’ve chosen to ignore the traditional publishing option and have successfully self-published two books. But I can do this because I have a big presence on the internet and many loyal followers all around the world.
In recent years however, a third publishing option called hybrid publishing has emerged. This is where authors pay a company to take on the work a publisher would have done, or that they would have done themselves — the editing, designing and printing.
Though there are a handful of hybrid publishers out there who are honest and straightforward, there are a lot more who are — to be kind — in the business to make a quick buck. I’ve written a blog post about this issue and I include a link to it in the show-notes below.
So, to answer your question about finding an agent, I’m sorry to tell you that it’s too late for this particular book. Agents will regard it as “already published” and they won’t be willing to take it on.
Also, understand that it’s not really possible to hire an agent. They work only on commission and they are paid a percentage of any publishing deal they’re able to arrange for you. As a result, getting an agent is a highly competitive business.
So, for future books, think very carefully about which publishing route you want to take — traditional, self-publishing, or hybrid — before you take it. Know which one you want before you sign up for it.
Finally, let me wrap up with the words of the American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Strength shows not only in the ability to persist, but the ability to start over.”
Marta, I know it must be disappointing not to have a publisher that’s aggressively promoting your book. Just keep in mind that, if you’d like to try to secure a traditional publishing deal, you can pursue that option with your next book.
Viewers, if you have any writing-related questions, I’d be happy to do a video on them. Just send me a quick email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or put a note in the comments section of this video.
And, if you’d like to learn more about how to make writing a happier and more rewarding process, check out my latest book Your Happy First Draft. I don’t sell it in bookstores or via Amazon. The only place to buy it is on my website, link on the screen below and in the show notes.