One of my good pals in writing and publishing, Ben Sobieck, has sold the film rights to one of his stories not through an agent, but instead, Wattpad. You know, that web portal that allows fans to read your work for free. Who'd a thunk it? In fact, he wrote a book on the subject. You should check it out right HERE.
More and more of my indie books I publish through Bear Media are far outselling anything my publishers own, save a few titles that Thomas & Mercer own (and they know how to sell books, even old books, believe me. One of my bestselling titles, The Remains, is currently being promoted by the house and get this, it's six years old). What this means is, I am placing as much importance, if not more importance, on the indie books as I am my traditionally published products. Lots of crime writers are doing the same thing. Check out this article written for Publishers Weekly in 2016 by Nicole Audrey Spector and you'll see why.
This is not good news for agents. As the one-time frequenters of the New York City steakhouse-acquisition-editor-wet-lunch circuit, many have now ceased to exist. Errr, their businesses have ceased to exist, I should say. Some of the agents I have signed with over the years have either died, or quit the business to enter into something far more lucrative and a million miles away from professional publishing. My agent from the late 1990s, and who sold my first novel for $250K, is now a professional magician. You can't make this shit up, I tell you. Some agents are downsizing, and certainly most of them are weeding out the clients who don't earn or sell at all. Who can blame them?
So then, do I still need an agent in 2018? My answer is yes. Agents aren't only there to get you lucrative deals (this is not a knock, but I think half the deals I've ever made I brought to my agent and not the other way around), they are there to deal with contracts and subsidiary rights. They push your books at book fairs and when possible, try to nab movie/TV rights. In theory anyway. But one of the biggest reasons for having an agent is to help out during times of crisis. You can be damn sure that is Amazon KDP were to challenge my ownership of a certain property or if someone accused me of plagiarism, the first man/woman I'm going to look to for help will be my agent.
I go in more detail to discuss the necessity of agents in my new short book The Hybrid Mindset. I hope you check it out. You can nab the book in eBook or paperback. Or you can read for FREE in KU.