Guest Author - Caroline Coleman
All writers work to get their stories read and enjoyed by other people. However, many only manage to get the attention of their family and friends and their works never reach a broader audience. That is why, if you are confident in your work and want to get it published, you should devote serious dedication and effort to accomplishing this dream of yours. Given the structure of the publishing business nowadays, it is perfectly natural to ask yourself whether you need a literary agent to get published.
There is no straightforward answer to this question and you have to look into it in greater detail. Firstly, not all works are published through publishing companies. If you are writing articles and short stories, you need to submit them directly to magazines and newspapers. You do not need an agent to represent you. This is applicable to writing poetry as well. You can consider working with such a professional if you want to publish a book. It can be a novel, a chapter book or a picture book or even a collection of short stories and poems. Scriptwriters should also consider working with an agent.
Despite all this, you are not obliged in any way to work with such a professional. Most small publishing houses, which will be your target presses as a novice writer, do not require you to have a literary agent. However, the large ones usually do. Check for this explicitly in the list of requirements of publishers you are considering for publishing your work. If they state that they do not accept unsolicited manuscripts, then you will either have to find a professional to work with or look for other publishers. However, you can approach them with a query letter first.
There are various benefits you can take advantage of if you are working with a literary agent. They will represent you and your work and will use all their connections to get your book sold. You will not have to write query letters or prepare manuscripts and excerpts on your own. The professional will do everything for you. In addition, you do not have to pay initial fees. You will have to provide them with a percentage of the remuneration for your work.
So far, it seems that working with a literary agent is definitely a good idea. However, before you get to sign a contract with an experienced professional, you will have to convince them that your work is good. This means that you have to do standard submissions to them as well.
Overall, it is up to you to decide whether you need a literary agent, but in fact, many agents will only represent you if you have a contract from a publisher already.