After painstakingly honing your creative juices and developing what is surely a fascinating story that must be shared with the world, you’re ready to move forward and get it published. But how do you do that? What’s the next step in your journey? Well, it might involve pursing the guidance, support, and assistance of a literary agent. These agents ca help to get your writing out to and grab the attention of publishing houses, as well as boost the amount of your advance, and may even be able to help shape the course of your career as an author.
But what is a literary agent? How can they help you? Why might you want to consider working with one? To find the answers to these questions and more, keep on reading.
What is a literary agent, anyway?
A literary agent, as the title suggests, is an individual who represents the business interests of authors, as well as the texts that they’ve created. Literary agents work with both new authors who are looking to publish for the first time, as well as experienced authors who have bestselling titles under their belts. These professionals function as business-minded mediators between writers and publishing firms, as well as the producers of movies and theatrical performances.
Typically, literary agents are paid a fee, which usually ranges between 10 and 20 percent of the sales of the creative pieces that they help to negotiate on behalf of the individuals they represent.
What do literary agents do?
Literary agents wear many hats. These professionals can offer assistance both in regard to the creative aspect and the business aspect of the writing industry. Some of the responsibilities that a good literary agent will undertake include:
- Assist clients with securing work. A key element of a literary agent’s job entails getting work for the clients they represent. They know how to act as an intermediary between publishing houses and their clients. They help negotiate contractors, oversee those contracts, and even help the authors they represent secure public speaking arrangements, as well as licensing deals. They do all of this while also keeping tabs on payments for all of these arrangements.
- Reviews manuscripts. A reputable literary agent will review their clients works, including manuscripts, nonfiction books, short stories, and plays. They’ll offer helpful tips and suggestions, such as creative insights, as well as edits. A credible literary agent will also ensure that their clients manuscripts are as appealing as possible before they submit those manuscripts to publishers.
- Develops query letters and pitches. When the time comes to submit a manuscript to a publishing house, a literary agent will assist authors with developing their query letters, book proposals, samples of chapters, and marketing plans, which will be combined to act as a pitch package for the creative work. Literary agents will also help keep tabs on submission guidelines and formats to ensure that the process is being done correctly.
Why Hire a Literary Agent
There are several reasons to consider hiring a literary agent. Some of the benefits of receiving the guidance of one of these professionals include:
- Increased success. An agent can help to not only get your manuscript out in front of high-profile publishing houses, but can also help to increase the amount you’ll receive for an upfront advances. Most big publishing houses, such as Simon and Schuster, Harper Collins, and Penguin, won’t accept unsolicited manuscripts; particularly if the manuscript is from a new author. Plus, they’re only likely to accept manuscripts that have the potential to become a bestseller.
- Reduced stress. A literary agent takes care of the business side of the publishing process so that you can focus more on your writing.
- Guidance and support. An agent will help to guide and support you throughout the publishing process, thereby increasing your chances of success.