Getting an Agent… Later in the Game
I’ve just sold my second novel (unagented) to a major publisher, and have signed the contract. Would it be prudent to look for an agent? Do you think the publisher would mind one coming on board at this late stage? Do I need one?
Good question. Since there are so many reasons people desire to have agents, or find that they need an agent, it’s good to consider this from different angles.
Most writers who have published a couple of books can benefit from having an agent step in to help manage their career. Usually the agent will be able to steer you in the right direction as far as what to write next and which publishing houses to approach. They can help you get the advance you deserve which is often more substantial than one you could get on your own. (I’ve seen statistics showing the median agented advance is as much as 75% higher than the median unagented advance.) Agents can certainly try to get you a more favorable contract, and help you avoid writer-unfriendly contract provisions.
If you’re already in the midst of a contract, an agent can still step in and help with the process, dealing with the publisher on your behalf if there are disagreements along the way, whether editorially, or with title and book cover, changing release dates, or anything else than can come up.
The biggest advantage would be career direction from here on. Since you’re already selling books, you have to make the decision about whether you’re confident in negotiating your own contracts and steering your own career, or whether it would be prudent and worth 15% of your royalties to have professional help.
By now you have contacts at your own publishing house, but an agent has contacts at many different houses and can take a bigger view of where you might fit and how your career might progress. On your own, if you decide you’re not happy with your current publisher and want to explore a change, you’re back to square one, not knowing other editors you could submit to.
And would a publisher mind an agent coming on at this juncture? Yes, some might. But I think your concern should be what YOU need, and you should act accordingly.