Literary Agents, Bah! Who Needs Them?

By Jeff Rivera on Nov 10, 2009 02:54 PM

Scrooge23.jpg reports that wined and dined a number of prominent literary agents at their home-base in Seattle, Washington to convince the agents that they are not the “evil empire” but rather willing to work with them as the publishing industry makes its full-fledged transition into the digital revolution.

The fact that had to have this discussion with literary agents brings up the question, will literary agents even exist in the near future? Are literary agents even necessary nowadays when a writer can upload their manuscript to the Kindle service or Smashwords and sell their books directly to the consumer?

“There will be a need for literary agents,” says Nicholas Croce of The Croce Agency, “Agents … offer informed advice and camaraderie during the inevitable ups and downs that all writers experience. I don’t think technology will ever put this human element on the extinction list.”

“Agents and publishers are going to have to adapt to the changes in the business, there is no other way to survive the digital revolution that is coming,” says Jerry Simmons of INDI Publishing Group, “Failure to recognize this very simple fact will most likely mean the end to book publishing as we know it.”

“I still think an author would benefit from a competent advocate looking out for him or her,” says Ben LeRoy, publisher of Tyrus Books, “Though devices like the Kindle and the Nook add new wrinkles to the publishing tapestry, their biggest effect is most likely with readers and not the machinations of the industry itself.”

One published author who asks to be unnamed disagrees, “What do you need an agent for anymore, really? Why? To negotiate a meager advance? You can’t get them on the phone anyway. You’re stuck promoting the book yourself because publishers don’t put any marketing dollars into your book unless you’re John Grisham. I don’t see the whole point when I can hire an attorney to negotiate my publishing contract for a flat fee or just upload the book to Kindle myself.”

What do you think? Will literary agents be relevant in the next 5-10 years? Will they even exist?

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