Easy answer. Heck ya! Why? Because if they are like Christine Witthohn, they will be honest, up-front and guide you toward becoming your personal best. Yes, this is a business. Yes, we all need to make money. But what Christine does is put her writers first, above and beyond the fact that she, too, needs to make a living. Not every agent is like this. Regardless, you need to decide how to shop your book… get your foot in the door… to your readers (surprised I didn’t say “publishers”?). A publisher is not the door you need to be looking for these days.
A publisher – be it Harper Collins, Candlewick or Joe Dokes Publishing, is just another member of the publishing world. You want them. You convince yourself you need them, but reality says you need only put your words to press on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Bypass that middle man. Forget about him.
But what about an agent? I believe in agents. They should know about publishing, what makes a good story, the legalese that goes along with it, and be your number one fan. Your agent should be the personal salesperson of your work. And by golly, they should be your friend to some extent, too. Even though this is, technically, a business, you can have friends. If your agent is your friend, count yourself lucky.
As publishing changes, so too will agents change. Some are pursuing their legs as publishers themselves. Others have gone the digital route, shopping your ebook to publishers via that method. Adaptability is key, and smart agents know this. They also know that getting their writers’ work out there via self-publishing can be a most valuable way to do just that… promote the heck out of what they believe is good writing, let the readers decide upon it, and stick that up the publishers’ noses.
With this is mind, is an agent a guarantee that your work will get published? Yes and no. They cannot guarantee that a traditional publisher will pick up your work, but they can pretty much guarantee that you will be able to publish your work on the big self-pubbing platforms. Our society is commanding that new writers shop their wares this way, and I believe it is a good one. And, without my agent Christine, I would never have gone this route. She is a gem.
I sound sassy. Then again, I feel that way.