Some writers really want an agent to work with. I understand all the reasons for desiring an agent, largest of all being their expertise when it comes to shopping your book around to their contacts in publishing, and knowing how to handle all the legal/contractual side of things. This knowledge, and much more, is unparalleled unless the writer themselves wants to do all the work of two or three people.
Many agents have an online presence in this day and age, and you get the amazingly unrivaled opportunity to get to know them and see if they are a “fit” for you. The days of querying unknown agents based solely on their other clients is quickly slipping away. I start to wonder if writers get their hearts set on any special “dream agent”, someone they’ve seen around, and think would suit their work and their personality.
Me? I don’t know that I’m at a place where an agent is necessary. Perhaps that will change in the future as I get more writing credits or want to push a larger project. I would not lament the insights of a talented and passionate editor working with me and sharing my love of my books. That would definitely be something special. But even so, I have no qualms approaching big houses alone if I felt I was ready for it (or rather, my story was!).
There are so many resources available to us now that even something like a writer’s contract can be poured over by the inexperienced and unraveled with the help of a search or two online. That’s not to say an agent isn’t worth their weight in gold; a good one who really believes in your work definitely is. To some writers, an agent isn’t totally necessary. To others, like me, an agent would foremost be a buffer between me and the demands of the industry.
With all that in mind, I’ve had my eye on an agent or two over the years. I love their personality and take on writing, but I don’t think my work necessarily fits with their other clients. Same genre, different style, so there’s no telling if they’d like my perspective on the stories. If I get to the stage when I feel it’s time to get an editor, I’ll probably still approach the ones I like most. They might be ready for a change, right?