Here, I'll share some highlights on the three parts of my talk:
- Why you need a Hottie,
- To hook a Hottie, you have to become a Hottie, and
- Finding the right Hottie for you.
Today, the topic is, Why you need a Hottie. Lots of people have sold books on their own. So why would you need an agent?An agent panel at the last SCBWI conference in NYC (mine was up there, too!) talked about the changing climate of children's books, and how it is more important than ever to have an advocate in this more cautious and competitive era.
Even after going to a dozen conferences, working with SCBWI as an Assistant Regional Advisor, and meeting many editors interested in my work, I felt I wanted an agent for several reasons:
- It's their business to know the market, inside and out.
- Good agents have built relationships within the industry and have an intuition for where a book will fit.
- They can create urgency and handle auctions--nearly impossible for an author to do.
- They can negotiate--not just on advances and royalties, but things you might not even think about, like foreign rights, deadlines, kill fees...
- They can handle the pitches while you focus on the writing (this isn't to say you should keep your head in the sand about the business side). I talked to a number of friends who had sold their own books, met with success and then signed with an agent, and this is the #1 reason cited.
I have also found that my agent is a terrific sounding board for book ideas and a partner in creating strategies. Not to mention an encouragement--which is why my most important point is to find not only an agent who can hit your work out of the park, but also one who is a great fit for you.
A concern that came up in the Q&A: what is an agent's rate, and is it worth it? Right now, the going agent fee is 15% (domestic rights, can be different for film rights, foreign, etc. but generally 15%). In my experience and in the experiences of everyone I talked to for this presentation, a good, legitimate* agent will more than pay for him/herself.
* more on legitimate agents later.
Next up: Becoming a Hottie. Hope to see you tomorrow!