Do I need an agent? The answer depends on whom you ask. Stephen King says, “First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal … and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.” ― Stephen King
In my opinion, the answer is no for self-publication but mostly yes if you choose the traditional route. Most traditional publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Some of the publishers we list in Section 1 who are paid advertisers do accept the first chapter with a one page summary of your book. We went out of our way to find them as they are rare in the writing world. It is still necessary to have an agent if you want to negotiate an advance or residual.
Agents come in handy, especially when it comes to sending your book out to the right publisher, one looking for your type of project. Many agents have developed relationships with publishers and can get your work reviewed. They may even know the perfect company to send your work. Once accepted they will help you get the best deal possible. Many agents work on commission. Therefore, if you succeed in publication they get paid more. This is the type of agent you want. You want one who succeeds when you do.
One thing you must be warned about. Be cautious with agents who want a reading fee just to look at your work. Also, beware of those who want your rights. “An author who gives a manager or publisher any rights in his work except those immediately and specifically required for its publication or performance is for business purposes an imbecile.” ― George Bernard Shaw
Are the agent or publisher motivated by your pay or the reader’s? You want someone who will make money by publishing contracts, not reading fees or taking away your rights. All of the agents we list in Section 1 do not have reading fees but a few charge for mailings. We accept this as a fee as long as they can prove with mail receipts that your work is being mailed.
No agent can guarantee a sale of your work to a publisher but they can guarantee showing you mail receipts to publishers and their mailed responses. Make sure that contacting you with proof of what they are doing for you are in your Literary Agency contract. The last thing you want is to sign a contract with a Literary Agent and then not hear from him in a year.