Tag s | Agents

At What Point Would an Agent Be Interested in an Indie Author?

I am an indie author. I’ve written several novels, some of which have sold well and all of which have *at least* 4.7 stars. Is there a point at which an agent would want to talk to someone like me? When/why might I consider getting an agent?

Thanks to Heather for the question!

A number of factors play a role in answering this question. (Are you getting tired of my “it depends” answer to all your questions?)


Indie publish (also known as self-publish) your novel and sell one million copies on your own and I guarantee agents and publishers will come knocking. This is what happened with The Shack. There are many examples in the general market where an Indie author had great sales success and the industry took notice.

I can anticipate the question. “Is there a number less than one million sold that makes things interesting?”

Ahem. “It depends.”

If you sold 100,000 copies of your novel for 99¢ each that won’t mean nearly as much as selling 30,000 copies for $7.99 each. The publisher is interested in making a profit on all their books. Cheap ebooks is a tough model to sustain consistent profit after deducting marketing, editorial, and overhead costs.

I know of an author who self-published his book in hardcover and sold 10,000 of them in his home state. That was significant and got the attention of a major publisher who sold more than 80 times that many worldwide, in hardcover.

The secret? The content must deliver.


If your book is so good that it creates a buzz simply because it is an amazing story, and the sales follow, you won’t have any trouble finding success in many places.

Hugh Howey is a very successful indie author. Back in 2011 he wrote a short story called Wool and eventually published it using the Amazon Kindle digital platform. It was so successful he added new “chapters” to the story. Word-of-mouth spread. According to an interview in Wired magazine he was soon earning around $100,000 a month from the sales of this story. Within a year Simon & Schuster signed him to a monster deal just for the hardcover and paperback rights, which were published in 2013.

Once I read it I understood why there was such a buzz about it. It is a great science fiction novel. The entire story takes place inside an abandoned missile silo after the apocalypse.

The story sold itself.

The Combination is Key

The combination of a great story, well written, with significant sales is what makes any author “attractive” to an agent or a publisher.

Of course many would ask, “If you are that successful as an independent author, why in the world would you want to sign with a major publisher. You are already successful?”

That, my friends, is a question better left for another day. Please don’t use the last question as a platform for debating indie versus traditional publishing in the comments section. It deflects from the original question our good author asked.

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Unreliable Statistics

Facts can lie…depending on how that are presented or understood. Today I’ll keep this blog post focused on writers choosing a literary agent, based on one question. When choosing a literary agent, authors need to make assessments. Some authors ask agents questions such as, “How many deals did you make last year?” …

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We Care, But We Must Choose

If you go through my trash, you might think I’m the world’s worst person. Why? Because my discarded mail might lead a casual observer to think that I don’t care about: The paralyzed. The blind. Amputees. Orphans. Israelites. Health needs overseas. Impoverished people living overseas. People suffering with: Lupus Muscular …

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Writers Learn to Wait

Ours is a process industry. Good publishing takes time. Unfortunately time is another word for “waiting.” No one really likes to wait for anything. Our instant society (everything from Twitter to a drive-thru burger) is training us to want things to happen faster. Awhile ago I wrote about how long it takes to get published which gave an honest appraisal of the time involved. Below are some of the things for which a writer must learn to wait.

Waiting for the Agent

We try our best to reply to submissions within 6-8 weeks and are relatively good about that. But if your project passes the first review stage and we are now reviewing your entire manuscript remember that reading a full manuscript is much more demanding than reading a few short proposals.

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An Author’s Journey

I wanted our agency client Scott Douglas LaCounte to guest-blog today because of the anniversary it represents (see below) and how God worked through the publishing process and journey to encourage a writer and his family.  Scott is quite modest. He is the head librarian for the Southern California Institute …

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