Well, number one -- you don't NEED either of them. 2 -- you do not need nor will you even GET an editor until you are published, or going through production to be published.
There are TONS of agents out there that will take on first time authors, thats there job after all, to help discover new talent -- that what agents are for, and once you are discovered, they help negotiate the best contracts, promotion and marketing for your needs. They are basically negotiators and managers for their clients --- but like I said earlier, you do not *have* to have one --- starting out that is.
To get started, regardless of agent or not, you need to look into self-publishing, which can be extremely pricey up front, with no guarantee of pay-off after publication, or look into traditional publishers that specialize in first-time authors. This alleviates the financial burden off of you, but still is no gurantee that you will take off --- as it never is, even with the big name publishing houses.
The big name publishing houses, like Doubleday and RandomHouse and their associates will almost NEVER publish first time authors, and if they do, you have an incredibly high and strict bar to live up to to even be considered ----- majority of people who now have contracts with the large publishers started out in small publishing or self-publishing, and only after their work stirred up interest were they re-contracted and taken on by big publishers. This industry is one of those that lives by the "work your way up" motto -- you literally have to start at the bottom, and build yourself up and *HOPE* that someone takes hold to help you up the scale.
Look into self-publishers or small house publishers that specialize in first time authors, look around, ask questions and pick one of those that suites you best. Once you do that, you will have to hire and editor if you are self publishing, which can be HIGHLY pricey, but if you go with a traditional publisher, 9 times out of 10, your contract will allow for a certain percentage of editing free of charge, and if it happens to require more, you will have to pay, but you get a significant discount with the contract.
If you decide to go with an agent, that is great -- they help out a lot of people, and if you feel you are just not wise enough in the subject or field to understand the contracts nitty gritty or the in and outs of the industry by yourself, that might be the best bet, after all, that is their job. Agents can be a little pricey, but here's the thing --- if you dont get paid, THEY dont get paid either. They get a percentage of your royalties -- usually between 10-20 percent depending on the agency. If you EVER come across an agent asking to be paid upfront -- RUN, they're a con, it's a scam. Agents do NOT get paid upfront, ONLY if you get paid -- that is the point of having them, they work to get you work, and if they dont do their job right then they don't get paid. So you shouldnt have to worry about getting an agent, because by the time you'll have to pay them, you'll have they money to pay them :) and if you dont get the contract and dont get the money, you dont have to pay them anything.
Publicity and Marketing is a totally different subject. Agents do some, but very little -- a large majority of agents wont even do marketing and promotion, and a HUGE majority of contracts do NOT include marketing and promotion -- even the Big name publishing houses standard contract includes no promotion, publicity or marketing --- you have to HIRE an outside marketing firm to do your promotions, which can be very very very VERY expensive. Marketing and promotion is a booming business, and they don't come cheap.
These are things to keep in mind and let your agent know about, because that way they can find the best contract for you to INCLUDE all these extra things, and you can look them over and weigh out which contract has the best standard agreements, royalties, rights and then who is willing to offer extra benefits -- such as free editing or promotion and the like.
and then the number one thing is DONT GIVE UP. it takes patience, and a LOT of it, but new people get discovered everyday, you just can't give up :)
Good luck to ya
Answered By: Mordi - 1/9/2008