I need an agent.
I’m a writer, an artist, a creator. That’s what I do. I know less well how to promote or sell what I do.
Can you help? Is there money in it?
NOTE: this is a post that started as a draft and was never published. In weird, somewhat masochistic fashion, I don’t often delete posts, so I’ll keep them as drafts. Occasionally, I’ll go through and see if I can rekindle the original thought.
My headline isn’t even really fair: I’m actually quite good at promotion and marketing. I even really enjoy it. Still, what is your focus? Where should you put your energy? If you’re an excellent writer, should you be spending your time promoting your writing? Actors have agents, book authors have agents, sports stars have agents. Could writers have agents?
It’s just a financial equation, really.
Is there money in it? The big film star gets the big part and makes a million bucks. Plenty of dough for the agent to take a nice cut—and pay their mortgage. But for a writer? Certainly, the cut of that $1,000 article for the big magazine isn’t worth too much time for the agent. Let’s do the math.
Let’s take that imaginary $1,000 for the big magazine. How much time might an agent spend finding that work for her writer client? Maybe it’s just a quick phone call. Maybe it’s a few emails, a phone call and a lunch. Maybe it’s weeks of work. How does that agent get paid? Hourly? By the project? Flat fee? Percentage?
To keep things crazy simple, let’s say the agent makes $100 and works an hour. That works. But on the next project, he works 4 hours and makes the same $100. Less good. Does he then favor the jobs that are going to get his A-list writers the higher-paying jobs? Probably. Are the top writers going to be the ones in demand. Who’s doing the actual negotiations, anyway? Can the agent demand a higher fee somehow?
And all of this for a one-time payout? Not very likely.
Let’s move to royalties.
The writer pens a best-selling book that sells tens of thousands and makes the author tens of thousands and the agent thousands. Does the writer need the agent? Probably. Does the agent need the writer? Yes. How does the agent know if the writer has a chance? Experience.
I’m sure there are writers out there who would pay solid cash for the services of an agent–guaranteed income or not. But what about the writer without the funds and without the guarantee of success? That is to say, most of us.
I think I’m back to: we’re on our own.
Is there cooperation in the writing and book marketing field? I think there is. Is there competition? Not that I’ve seen firsthand, but maybe it’s most between the lines (little writing pun thrown in … ).