A Literary Agent Doesn’t Guarantee Publication

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 26 2020

Authors often think that getting an agent is the end of the battle, but the truth is it’s just the beginning. Getting an agent doesn’t guarantee a writing career or even a sale to a publisher. What an agent does give you is a business partner, an expert, a career manager, and a support network.

When I’m asked how often work submitted by a literary agent is rejected, I can honestly say a lot. That doesn’t mean an author won’t get published, it just means you need to be prepared for the battle. And it might not be the first book an agent offers representation on.

It’s one of the reasons BookEnds signs authors for the long haul. We aren’t looking to just “try” one book with you. Our goal is to stick together because we love your writing, and sell not just one book, but many. And we know it might not be the first one.

Rejection and criticism are part of being a writer. Hopefully having an agent means having a business partner to help you navigate the murky waters of publishing–rejection, publication, revisions and your next book.

8 responses to “A Literary Agent Doesn’t Guarantee Publication”

  1. Avatar Christy Smith says:

    Thank you. Good post.

  2. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    One hurdle at a time; I’ll worry about the publication hurdle after I navigate the agent hurdle.

    While I know an agent doesn’t guarantee publication, I am sure (for me anyway) having an agent will offer some sense of relief because all of a sudden I won’t be in this alone. All those things you mentioned (business partner, an expert, a career manager, and a support network) are what I envisage having an agent will mean.

    It’s all one step closer to the dream (if only “be published” could be a goal).

  3. Understood. Thank you for posting.

  4. Avatar Michael M. Rapaport says:

    My problem is getting an agent. I had two: the first turned out to be a crook. One could ask how could that be since he doesn’t make money unless I do. All I say to that is one shouldn’t ignore what an ego boost is to someone who is crooked? From there I went to a close friend of mine for 40 years thinking I need someone to trust. He tried to hook me up with a scam company and even after I proved that to him he still wanted to pursue that non opportunity. I decided to do it myself. The first thing that hit me is that I have written 29 books. I don’t have a great ego about my writing ability. I welcome any person who can help improve my work. 25 of my books are focused on a detective I created named Michael Conti. In addition, I have written my autobiography entitled “Life Really Sucks” and a baseball book entitled, “Dem Braves, a Brooklyn Boy’s Odyssey with his Chosen Team. A history of the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves from 1957 to the present.”

  5. Thank you. More than anything, that’s what most serious writers long for, a partnership with someone able to take the next steps.

  6. Avatar Marc Teatum says:

    Excellent post. An agent should be a writer’s partner; know the market and put content in front of the right publishers, and if rejected, figure out why (is it timing? Is it the wrong editor at that house?) and possibly re-present.

  7. Avatar Kenneth R. McClelland says:

    After having two publishers go out of business without first notifying me, I was left with a rats nest to sift through. I still don’t know where royalties for my books are going, such as this one for example, which may or may not be doing well: https://www.amazon.com/Pandemic-Preparedness-Guide-Kenneth-McClelland/dp/1628681195

    Would having an agent have helped me or protected my interests (which would be theirs too)?

  8. Avatar Syneetra A Williams says:

    Thank you for your blog post. I am a published writer working on my first erotic mystery novel. I just started looking for a literary agency to represent me and my work. I am planning to prepare myself for rejection. Again, thank you for the warning.