I have completed a book about gardeners. Should I consider using an agent? How will it benefit me? What are the drawbacks? If I need an agent, where and how do I find one? This is all new to me. Any good advice will be appreciated.
In favor of an agent: Agents have relationships with publishing people so have greater access and more connections. Many publishing houses only take submissions from agents, so your book will be marketed to publishers who wouldn't otherwise look at it. An agent promotes books for a living - you do not...in all likelihood, they will show your book to more people than you would. They also know what a "good deal" is, and how far they can push the financial agreement - you might be willing to settle for less just because you don't know what is standard, or what you should expect.
Cons: Part of the money you make from your book will go to the agent. It can sometimes be hard to find the right agent.
There are several books for writers that list agents - you can do a Google search or look on amazon and find them. Another approach is to look for other gardening books in a bookstore, and read the acknowledgements...many authors thank their agents. Then google their names.
Should you have an agent? Hard to say. I've had two books published, and have recently signed a contract for another one with a new publisher, and I didn't use an agent for any of these. But I'm working on another book and I may want an agent for this one...there are only so many hours in the day.
You might consider joining the Garden Writers Association - you can network with other authors and publishers at the annual symposium.
Here is a link that might be useful: Garden Writers Association
Thanks, C.L. You have confirmed what I have been discovering on the web. It seems to me that because I teach full time and write part time, I don't need another part time job. I'll be searching for an agent. If anyone out there has a recommendation, I'd be happy to hear it.