What can an agent do for me? Do I need one? How much do they cost?


If your goal is to publish your book with a medium to large traditional, royalty-paying publishing house—then you want to seek agent representation. Very few large houses these days accept submissions from unagented authors.

Getting an agent is one way to know you’re on the right track. If you get a yes from a reputable agent, then you know your book and/or your writing has promise with a traditional publisher.

An agent who has your best interest at heart will be honest with you about what you need to work on. That agent won’t fluff you up with fancy words. Why? Because your agent doesn’t get paid unless he or she sells your book to a publisher. So your agent will work with you to make your query, your proposal AND your book the best it can be so it will stand out in the crowd and not get sent flying to the slush pile.

If you have found the right agent, there will be NO upfront fees. Agents earn their income from a percentage of the advance and royalties you earn from book sales. You don’t pay them anything else.

It’s your choice whether to pursue an agent or go it alone. Everyone gets to choose their own path!

If you should decide to invest in some personalized counsel, I offer coaching for unpublished authors here: My Coaching Services


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Maz Green on March 13, 2021 at 9:05 AM

    Hello Rachelle, I’d be interested to know what you mean by unpublished authors. I’ve kept a blog for 7 years, just finished the first draft of my memoir, had some articles taken by online publications, such as Adamah Media and Please See Me, have a presence on Medium.com and have written flash fiction and poetry. Does any of that count?

    Here is my blog:


    • Rachelle Gardner on March 16, 2021 at 6:33 PM

      We are typically referring to authors who don’t yet have a book published by a traditional publishing house. But as you know, there are many definitions of “published.”