I am thrilled to announce that I am now represented by NAC, New Authors Collective, an Australian literary agency with an international focus. When, eyes aglow, I tell non-writers that I’ve landed an agent, many of them ask when my novel is coming out. I reply that having an agent is no guarantee the book will be published and they raise their eyebrows, confused why I’m so excited. Let me explain.
First, it’s important to understand the difference between an agent and a publisher. (More on publishing in The Value of Failure.) The publisher edits, produces and distributes the book. An agent finds a publisher and manages the author’s career. Some authors deal directly with their publisher (this is more common in Australia than the USA or UK), but many prefer to have a middleman. This is why:
- Credibility. Agents earn commission, so they are only paid if the author is successful. Therefore, they can’t afford to sign an author unless they believe they have a reasonable chance of success. This gives agented authors a level of industry endorsement.
- Editorial Advice. Agents can suggest edits or even rewrites to improve their book prior to submission to publishers. By taking the work to a higher level, it has a higher likelihood of success.
- Access to publishers. Works presented to a publisher via an agent are often given higher priority than direct submissions. Some publishers only accept agent submissions. Through NAC, I hope to increase my exposure to publishers overseas.
- Contract negotiation. The agent negotiates and manages publisher contracts, so the author can get on with writing and leave the paperwork to somebody else.
- Career management. The agent has a vested interest in the author’s career and can provide advice about subsequent works—publishing trends, feedback on new ideas, the ‘business’ of being published, etc.
This is why I’ve cracked open a bottle of champagne to toast getting this far. Thank you to Michael Cybulski and the NAC team for believing in me, and here’s to the next steps.