Some writers, once they have finished writing a book, struggle over whether they should look for an agent or a publisher. “Do I want to give 15% of my royalties to an agent?” they ask themselves.
I have had both experiences. My children’s fiction was published without an agent and I can say I had no problems in dealing directly with my publishers. The publisher was a regional, non-profit and we had the same goals – to share North Carolina’s stories with young readers.
When The Book of Miniature Horses was published I was collaborating with a photographer, and he already had a literary agent. I “inherited” the agent with the collaboration. I went on to writing The Book of Draft Horses and The Book of Mules without collaboration but still with the agent’s representation. I have never regretted that she gets her 15%. I think she earns every penny of it. She negotiated my contract with the publisher, getting a higher advance than they offered, caught clauses that were not in my best interest and is just an email away from answering all my stupid questions. I would have been floundering on my own without her, dealing with a bigger publisher and a more complicated contract.
Now that I have a novel (for grownups) to market I am querying fiction agents first. I am glad to pay them to help me search for a publisher, and then help deal with the details after we find a publisher. So, onward, and back to the agent list in my new copy of The Writers Market.