Well, the short answer is that because they work for me.
Okay, that's a super short answer. An agent is the support staff for a writer. One thing that I've heard from countless lectures I've gone to with editor/agent speakers, is that the publishing business would crumble without the writer. Therefore, everything is pretty much built upon what the writer produces. Publishers want you to produce something awesome that will sell. Editors, and mostly agents, are the ones that help the author do this.
This is the breakdown of what an agent does as far as I know:
- They support the writer
- Help the writer manage their career
- Manage the rights to the books
- Be the writer's advocate
- Act as a bridge between you and the editor
Finding the right agent is like dating. You want to make sure that you click with one another. So, when you're looking for an agent, make sure you do your research. This is some great advice that one of my professors passed on to me this summer. Literary Rambles is a great resource. They've got links to various agents and have collections of interviews and articles with the agent listed online.
Lastly, two things to keep in mind.
- Most publishing houses won't look at manuscripts if a writer doesn't have an agent
- Even with an agent, there is a chance that your book won't be picked up for publication
In a little while, I'll post about the querying process (the process of trying to get an agent to take you on), so until then, have a good one!