Why would someone decide to start their own publishing company? What about all the big, established presses?

Most of the big houses require a writer to have an agent to get into the door. Okay, so one must get an agent first. Here’s where the fun and games come into play.

Two self-published authors and big-time promoters held an agent roundtable and they posted the results on their website. I found the Q&A interesting. Two questions (and their answers) should shed light on the whole get-an-agent/get-published thing.

One author wanted to know if they needed to successfully publish two books before getting an agent. The panelist agent’s answer: no. Being a newcomer was the best thing they had going for them right now. If they’d published before but didn’t sell well, then the agent wouldn’t be inclined to take them on due to a poor track record. (Of course, it goes without saying that all agents are wary of new authors because they have no track record and no one wants to be on board a sinking ship.)

Another author wrote to ask why they couldn’t get an agent. It seems that this author is a very successful speaker, writer, self-publisher and has sold a lot of books, been on Oprah, CNN and other TV interviews all over the world. They’re massively successful and want an agent to help negotiate better deals for them, but no agent wants to touch them. The panelist agent’s answer? That someone so wildly successful has probably saturated their market and has nothing left to sell, so agents won’t be inclined to take them on because the author’s sales are about to decline. (We all know that agents are psychic and make their really big money by successfully betting on horse races.)

Moral of the story: damned if you do and damned if you don’t.