Several years ago after I finished The Third Dragon, I tried to get my book published. I did this by first finding a literary agent. Why didn’t I go directly to a publisher? Because getting a good publisher to publish your book without having a literary agent is almost impossible.
As I was to discover, finding a literary agent is almost as difficult as getting a publisher. The competition is unbelievable. The most difficult part of finding a literary agent to promote your book is finding an honest and accomplished literary agent who wants to promote you book. I found out the hard way that finding a literary agent versus finding a good literary agent are two different things.
It took several months of submitting my synopsis and first few chapters to several literary agents before I had a literary agency reply with a request to see more. I was so excited to finally hear back from a literary agent that I did not research them thoroughly enough. The consequences were expensive.
After four years and almost ten thousand dollars, I realized that my literary agent was taking my money but not being aggressive enough in promoting my book. I consistently requested a list of publishers which they submitted my book to and very often got a very lame reply. There was always some excuse yet more money to fork up.
Upon further research, I found a lawsuit pending against the literary agency. Many of the circumstances were the same as mine and this person won the suit against the agency. So I decided to stop giving them my money and filed my own lawsuit. However, my lawsuit had to be filed in small-claims court. I had to file it in St. Louis, Missouri since that is where the agency was domiciled. The judge barely listened and said he would get with us in a few days with his decision. In a few days, the decision went into the agency’s favor.
Why did the agency win? Because they had a very one-sided contract. I had almost no rights as the author. The contract did not stipulate that she had to prove she was working on getting my book published. It did not stipulate how many publishers she would submit to, how often she would follow up, or any other important information.
I learned the hard way that I should have gotten a lawyer the moment I found a literary agent to support me. But I was trying to take short cuts since I was very short on money. Getting a book published is expensive. And it requires almost as much time in finding qualified companies to represent you as it does to research and write the book.
Next time, I will be more careful. I am still considering self-publishing. This method requires a lot more work on my part, but at least I only have myself to rely on. By the way, the literary agency was called The Robin’s Agency and, surprise, they have since gone out of business.