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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#HowToAuthor: Agents & SubmissionNon-Fiction
Advice for writing book-shaped things and getting them traditionally published. This series will cover everything from querying to agent fit, to building a platform and marketing yourself.