So, is there really a need for a literary agent? It's a question that I have been asking myself ever since I learned of the e-book self-publishing options. I've sent query letters to almost every agent that represents young adult fantasy. I've received a few interested parties, but none have actually jumped onboard.
Right now, I'm receiving decent sales, and good exposure without the need of an agent. But, what a literary agent would provide is a direct link to a major publisher. While self-publishing can be very lucrative, it doesn't provide the exposure that a major publisher can provide. So, while there are many stories of successful self-published authors like Amanda Hocking, Darcie Chan, and J.A. Konrath, they still don't have the distribution and marketing capabilities that a major publisher can provide.
Conclusion? A literary agent can be a very useful advocate that can get you into a major publishing house, but they are not the only avenue. If you don't receive representation from a literary agent, don't stop there. Choose one of the many self-publishing options and continue to write. Eventually, you will see the results of your hard work. My biggest advice is: Never Give Up!!!