Why do you need an agent? What do they do?

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What is a literary agent, what do they *do*, and why do you need one?

Literary agents are an essential stop gap between authors and publishers. They offer publishers a measure of quality control, taking the time to comb through submissions, plucking out the authors with great books and sharing them with editors. They offer authors not only access to those editors/publishers, but a measure of protection. Agents act in the best interest of authors, making sure they get the best possible deal, that they get paid, and that the publisher doesn't jerk them around.

If you want to be traditionally published by a legitimate and/or major publisher, you need a literary agent.

Key things to remember about literary agents:

An agent doesn't get paid until you get paid

Standard agent commission is 15%

It is a business relationship/partnership

Literary agents LOVE BOOKS

They don't love sending rejections

They run the gamut in terms of quality, connections, and style

So what do they do for you, the author?

First, they make sure your book is in the best possible shape to submit to editors. Not all agents are editorial (meaning they work with you on content & other edits of your book), but they all want to ensure editors see your best work.

They pitch editors your work, either by phone or email, and share your manuscript with interested editors. They follow-up with those editors to get responses.

If an editor wants to offer on your book, your agent manages the process and negotiates.

They review & negotiate for your contract.

They make sure you stay on good terms with your editor and publishing house, ensuring things happen on time/in good order. If there are problems, they step in and advocate on your behalf.

They make sure you get paid, on time.

They manage the rights for your work, which may include foreign rights, film/TV rights, and audio rights

Help with career strategy and planning

Contact authors to blurb your book


There is so much more to agents, but this is an overview in terms of what you can expect.

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