I was writing my own how-to-get-an-agent post when fellow blogger "Moonrat" of Editorial Ass beat me to the punch with a great post called "Why you should never submit unagented to publishing companies."
Counting on the fact that she will convince you that you do need an agent, I'll follow with my own advice later this week on how to get one. (As promised to several emailers who have asked that question.) For now, I invite you to peruse this great and thorough advice from a working editor. She doesn't disclose her company or her real name, as far as I can tell. Editorial Ass stands for Editorial Assistant, by the way; she has moved up since the blog started.
I originally started perusing litblogs in search of good writers' blogs, but among the best blogs I've found are ones by editors and agents, which allow the writers among us to eavesdrop and learn how the other side feels, what they look for, and so on. These are invaluable sources of unedited, sometimes warm/sometimes snarky info you won't find in any "Writer's Market" or writers' magazines. Editorial Ass is one of my absolute favorites.
Make sure to check out her other posts on subjects like whether authors should give or expect gifts from editors/agents (this was a fun one; it got over 40 comments), moonrat's guide to getting published , what makes a dream author, and more.
You might notice while you're at her site that she has chosen my novel as an Oct. 1 online book club pick. I'd be thrilled if you took part (via her blog), but that's not why I'm pointing it out. I just wanted to clarify that I didn't know Moonrat until recently; it just happened that she had read and blogged about my book, and I read her blog frequently and really enjoy it. We connected via the web, which just goes to show, as my favorite old-fashioned novelist E.M Forster always said, "Only connect!"
If you're looking for the next parts in this series, go here, keeping in mind that the posts appear in reverse order (epilogue, followed by parts III and II).