Posted by: nancyisanders | September 17, 2012

Agents: Do You NEED One?

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve worked with some top agents and I have writing friends who have top agents in the industry, so I keep my ear to the ground, so to speak, on that seemingly hidden world…the world of agents. I have a New York agent now. So if you have questions about agents, let me know and I’ll try to answer them in these upcoming posts where we’ll be talking about agents, especially for children’s writers.

First let’s start out by answering the all-important question: What is an agent?

In the world of writing, an agent is someone who takes your manuscript and submits it to publishers and tries to land a book contract for you. Usually, agents submit to publishers who require an agent, but not always.

Now here’s another question that’s very important to ask:
Do you need an agent?

Well, sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t.

Here’s a general guide:
Interested in Self-publishing? No.

Wanna write for the Educational Market? No.

Wanna write for the Magazine Market? No.

Wanna work with Traditional Publishers? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Some of these publishers require an agent, some don’t.

Wanna target the Christian Market? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Some of these publishers require an agent, some don’t.

Is there a different market you’re interested in? Let me know and I’ll tell you if you need an agent or not.


  1. Hello Nancy,
    Thank you for posting about agents. I am interested in working with traditional publishers. I’d like to ask you a question about agents: when it comes to picture books, do agents usually like to see 3 or 4 manuscripts before they decide to represent an author? Or do they make the decision based on one manuscript?

    • Great question, Jill. And thanks for letting me know you’re interested in working with traditional publishers. I’ll be sure to include info on that in the upcoming posts.

      Regarding the number of manuscripts an agent is looking for, it depends on the agent. My friend’s agent required 3 to 5 picture book manuscripts that the agent loved submitted before the agent would sign with her, and my friend already had numerous published picture books. Yet other agents I know just want one solid picture book manuscript that they feel has a chance with the editors they work with before they will sign on a new client.

      You might not be able to find out this information until an agent expresses interest in you.

      The bottom line is that it helps to start getting in the routine of writing picture books on a regular basis. This way you not only get a bunch of picture books in your files but when an agent says she likes your idea but wants a rewrite you can accomplish that fairly quickly.

      • Thanks, Nancy!

  2. I’ve seen a few literary agencies that require agents because they don’t accept unsolicited inquiries. That’s when I laughed out loud hardest and felt my timing for an agent just wasn’t right. When the time comes, if it does, I’m glad to know that we can be successful writers with or without an agent. (Though a cheering section, is highly recommended & I’m in yours Nancy!) So happy for your successes and love your words of wisdom!! Smiles, Anna

    • Oh that is funny!!! Thanks for sharing Annalisa. And three more cheers for you and your writing!!!!

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