Our role as editors will help you polish your writing and develop your prose. But our services don't help you with the biggest struggle facing young authors in today's times: Should I get an agent or self-publish?
The answer is very complicated.
And very simple.
Get an agent if you can, self-publish if you can't.
So look, self-publishing feels appealing, but what you're actually doing is the DIY route. You have to publish, edit, and market your own book by yourself. Some people can do it. If you're good with people, if you have money to spend, or if you have a wide following, self-publishing can work. You make the book, you sell the book, and you keep all the money. Andy Weir did it, Christopher Paolini did it, E.L. James did it... So you know it can work for you too.
But when you publish this way, to borrow a video game analogy, you're playing on hard mode. Now maybe that just appeals to you, there's nothing wrong with that attitude. But if you're aiming to be a big name in writing... self publishing is not the way to do it. You need to go through a traditional publisher, which means you need a book agent.
Right now there's only three options. Play by the big publishers rules, appeal to an Indie publishing house, or self-publish and grow your own platform. You don't like it; we don't like it; but right now we can't change it.
So which should you choose?
Indie publishing is like a lottery. On one hand, the community is smaller and they work more closely with their authors. On the other hand, they have a LOT of competition, and most Indie publishing houses can only afford to publish one or two books a year! Getting a book agent will help, if you've truly got your heart set on Indie. But the other drawback is you're less likely to get called on for a movie deal by Hollywood. And good luck getting your book sold on a national-level bookstore. But if you get lucky, this might be the route for you!
Traditional publishing is a lot of work. But, if you can land an agent, you'll have a team to work with. Never underestimate the power of a team. You'll work with professional editors, publishers, lawyers, agents, advertisers, and many other movers and shakers in the big name business. This end of the game is less of a lottery and more of a checkbox. If you've got the story they want to sell, you're in. If you don't... well... try something else.
Many authors published traditionally will tell you working in this framework is half the battle. Convincing very wealthy people that they'll be able to sell your story in today's market is literally all it takes. Editors will take care of bad prose. Professional artists will design your book, your website, sometimes even your very persona. It's an intensive process. And some people are simply not up for that kind of life. If you're the kind of person who'll submit your book to an agent and never follow-up on that submission... You've already made a fatal mistake. (Though I'll tell you more about that in another article.)
On the other hand, if you're a business-savvy person who knows how to sell ideas to big corporate overlords to take their money and at least act like you're not just spending it wildly on trivial things... you've probably got what it takes.
And lastly, we have the Self-Publishing Route. I'm going to keep this section short, because it's the route with the most work and the most steps to completion. But I will say this route is probably the best route for a newbie author. Going this way, you'll face for yourself some of the obstacles and pitfalls awaiting you. You'll gain experience. And someday, with enough of that precious exp, you'll have enough clout to take one of the other routes and make them work for you.
Um... and... you know, if you fail to land an agent, you'll be stuck on this path automatically.