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Do You Need a Literary Agent If You Self-publish?

In essence, the answer is no. You do not need a literary agent to become a self-published author. There are also fewer stigmas now surrounding the image of self-publishing. It has become a way for authors to be recognised and many have gone on to enjoy huge commercial success. However, if you want to be published by one of the bigger publishing houses then you do need an agent, as it is much harder to get an editor to look at your book manuscript without the help of a literary agent. Therefore it is a good idea to find one.

One of the many benefits of the literary agent is that they know the book market and what areas and genres editors specialise in; this means that they know the editors to approach with regards to your particular book. The literary agent will also help you come across as a serious contender and can help to be your mouthpiece.

Literary agents also know what buzz is happening in the literary world and have their finger on the pulse regarding the latest trends. This can help you immensely in getting your book read in the first place. They know what editors are looking for on a changing daily basis. 

Most importantly an agent can also help you to perfect your manuscript before it is sent to an editor. They can help spin it with regards to a particular trend that is happening or adapt it to a preferred writing style that an editor favours, once again giving you a better chance of being accepted by them for publication.

An agent will also help you to get the best deal for your book because they know the business and can be extremely useful, especially for the first time author.

One question to ask yourself is this: if you have been successful in the world of self-publishing and have spent a lot of time, money and effort in getting your book ‘out there’ and widely read, why do this when in reality you want to go down the mainstream and traditional publishing route with the help of a literary agent? If this is because you feel you can reach a wider audience and have a much larger platform for your readership with the help of a big publishing company, then go for it. You have nothing to lose.

Self-publishing before approaching a literary agent is also a fantastic way to test the water and find out if your book is indeed marketable and ready for the big publication houses. You will also make a few pennies in the process.

It is also worth noting that in this changing book climate many literary agents today are becoming more interested in the independent author and are actively seeking new and interesting self-published books by up and coming writers. Therefore self-published authors can now enjoy mainstream publishing success; it’s just a matter of finding the right literary agent to help you on your way.