What Does a Literary Agent Do?

February 5, 2019     / /

What Does a Literary Agent Do?

Publishing? Get All the Help You Can!

If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard the term ‘literary agent’ a million times. While literary agents are often associated with some of the biggest names in the business, you don’t have to be a New York Times Best Seller to have one. If you have a book you’re trying to publish—even if it’s your first— it’s often helpful to have a skilled literary agent.

In this article, we’ll explain the role of a literary agent and help prepare you to approach one of your own. If you’re an aspiring author, you might find the information in this article particularly useful.

What is the Job of a Literary Agent?

The job of a literary agent is to represent you to publishing companies and manage your book releases. However, literary agents don’t just work with publishers; they also work with film producers, theatres, and a variety of other arts organizations.

Literary agents are tasked with helping you get your foot in the door. As an independent author who is yet to publish a literary work, it is often challenging to get the attention of publishers. Using a literary agent that has relationships in the industry is very beneficial in many circumstances.

What Percentage Does a Literary Agent Take?

As an author, it’s essential to retain as much of your income as possible. When you publish a book with a publishing house, they’ll typically take a large chunk of your sales. Literary agents will also want their share of the proceeds – it’s easy to see how authors struggle when they first start publishing.

There are industry standards that dictate how much literary agents typically take as a commission. As a rule of thumb, most literary agents will receive 15 percent of your personal income from your book.

This 15 percent does not include the amount that the publishing house receives. It only includes money that the publishing house pays you – whether this is advances or royalties. If a literary agent quotes you over 15 percent, you should consider looking at other agents.

How Do I Find a Reputable Literary Agent?

Finding a reputable literary agent is often very difficult – there are tens of thousands of authors searching for a good one. On top of this, many literary agents are operating with bad intentions. Some literary agents may try to charge you money before your book is published, which reduces their incentive to help your career.

There are some great online resources that can help you find reputable literary agents. For example, on www.agentquery.com you can find a range of literary agent postings and contact agents directly. It’s important to try and find an agent that has a proven track record and a sound plan to promote your book.

Agents will often showcase previous published works and clients to help you understand their experience. You should be prioritizing working with agents that only receive commission once you get paid. Don’t let a con artist take your money without results!

We hope this quick literary agent overview has helped resolve some of the questions you may have had and helps you realized your dream of becoming a successful, published author.