Sure, you can do it alone; in fact you don't even need a publisher with the self publishing craze. But you risk the chance of being one of the thousands of authors who forks out big dollars to produce a book that (chances are) has not been edited properly and will only reach friends, family and a few loyal fans.
For me, I would love an agent because:
- They have expert knowledge of the industry.
- Established networks.
- Can get your manuscript into places where it otherwise may not go.
- They will give you invaluable guidance to help you make it.
- They have taken you on because they believe in you.
Well I haven't scored an agent yet, so I am not an expert. In fact, I have only just started looking for one properly. I face the problem of the fact that there are not many Australian agents to start with. Then a lot of the agents either don't take on new clients - unless through recommendation, don't want to handle YA or aren't interested in Speculative Fiction. This leaves me with slim pickings locally. An overseas agent is a longer shot. I have been told Australian writers and stories set in Australia have a much lower acceptance rate again for a variety of reasons.
But what I do have for you is some directories for agents and the best advice on querying I have found so far.
Note, I do not know the reputation of all the agents listed. It is important that you research the agents for their credentials, match for your work and whether they are currently open to submissions.
Best site for query advice (there is so much advice here, read it all and you can subscribe to the blog)
Of course a small number of people are successful without an agent, or through self publishing. But it is a much harder road and I would prefer to concentrate on writing.