I'm often asked by aspiring authors if they need agents. If you want to write for the national market, the answer is yes. And it's not because an agent--who actually schmoozes with editors--will know where to send your manuscript. It's not because an editor will actually read an agented manuscript, as opposed to the unagented ones which stack up inside of the office to henceforth be used as free insulation. No, you need an agent my friend, because agents are the only ones in the business who can decipher royalty statements.
Royalty statements, by the way, are misnamed. They don't make you feel like royalty; they make you feel like an idiot, because you can't figure them out. I just got my last royalty statement from Walker, and I'm not kidding, it was 15 pages long. They publish books that are shorter than that.
None of it made sense, but it came through my agent, so I can just file it somewhere. See how nice that is? Trust me. If you want to be a writer, you need an agent. You also need a cheerleading section and a housekeeper, but that is the subject for another blog.