I used to wonder if I'd ever get an agent, but now I'm wondering what one of those would do for me that I don't already do for myself.

I just agreed to -- signed paperwork to follow -- sell the French, German, Italian, Dutch, Greek, Spanish and Portuguese versions of my debut novel, How the Strong Survive, to a European publisher. I am required to be involved and approve the translations, and my new publisher will pay my expenses for book release promotional tours. We are still negotiating the film rights to these "European Language" editions.

They also want my (sold but still in the production pipeline) Nick Schaevers PI series. Those discussions are in the initial stage.

I'll announce the publisher's name when the ink is dry on the contracts.

Not bad for a guy with no agent!

I asked, and the agents that responded told me that international discussions get the agent 20% for established authors, but 25% of unknown authors like me.

For 1/4th of my royalties, I want them to do a lot of the research for the novel and write some of the chapters.

Besides, authors I know have told me how agents often negotiate terms benefitting the publisher to the detriment of the author, in hopes for the agent being receptive in the future to other books the agent brings them.

I have "trust issues" with the whole "agent" thing. Maybe if one of them proved to me that they have human DNA, and are not a member of the loyal order of Selachi, I might let them represent me. Until then, I seem to be selling books to American and international publishers without an agent taking the "mordita" out of my royalties.

Just my $0.02

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You are doing just fine all by yourself. your $0.02, is still your $0.02 right?
Like all things, for some there are winners, for others there are losers.

For me, for example, I doubt I would have got a publishing deal with HarperCollins if I hadn't had an agent, and therefore she can gladly take her share.

In your example, it may be that an agent would have brokered exactly the same deal with your fledgling publishers, and you would be a quarter down. On the other hand, your publisher has a very strong hand at the moment. If your book is successful, he could sell each translated version to a publisher in each of those countries, and that might not be to your benefit. Also, as he owns the rights to the next one, he could do the same again. An agent might have negotiated deals with publishers in each of those countries, and overall got the best deal. Also, the promise of paying expenses for a European book tour sounds great, but only if the publisher decides that it is in his interests for you to have a tour. It's like me promising my wife a Ferrari when I make my first million. If I make a million, she can have a Ferrari with pleasure. But it's no gamble for me, because I probably won't.

The bottom line is that your publisher will look to maximise his income before he worries about yours, and sometimes agents can see the bigger picture because they share the same interest as you: your income.

Good luck anyway. I hope it works out. Always good to strike a blow for the little man.

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