As a Book Author, Do I Need a Literary Agent?

By Brian Scott

Writing is a fruitful and fulfilling endeavor. The downside is you may find it difficult to get your book published. The process of convincing publishers to publish your book as well as negotiating on how to market your book may burden you with too much responsibility. The literary agent serves as an important role to combat these obstacles, especially if you do not want to waste creative efforts dealing with the business side of book publishing.

Tip 1: What Is A Literary Agent?

A literary agent represents writers and their written works to publishers, producers and other companies. Basically, these agents assist you in selling your book and negotiating contracts. In most cases, you do not pay the literary agent directly, because they receive a percentage of your book royalties.

Literary agents act as buffers between you and your publisher, especially negotiating how each party should package or market your book. As a writer, you do not want the publisher to butcher and change your original work too much; however, publishers do insist on changing your work to improve its salability in the marketplace. Having an agent to help settle things can make things much easier for everyone.

Tip 2: Why Should I Get a Literary Agent?

Many book writers want to concentrate on writing their books and use a literary agent to handle the business of book publishing. In this case it makes sense to hire an experienced agent to sell your book to a publisher and negotiate royalties. Secondly, a literary agent will have connections in the industry that you do not, and this could speed up the publishing process.

An agent is responsible to shop your manuscript around to publishers and use his connections to get your work in the hands of a good editor. Your literary agent will handle most of the contracts, agreements and negotiations on your behalf. You may also decide to work with a literary agent to express and brainstorm ideas and opinions about your book and what you want to achieve.

Use a literary agent to assist you in earning optimal money from your work, and at the same time, provide you with creative protection. A literary agent will help fight for your artistic decisions and ensure publishers don’t compromise your original concept.

Tip 3: What Should I Know Before Getting A Literary Agent?

As good as it may sound to get a literary agent, do not rush yourself in choosing one. Follow these basic rules:

Know who the good agents are, and research their credentials and accomplishments. Narrow down a few good agents. Request their submission guidelines or ask if they accept unsolicited material. The best approach is to send a book proposal with a sample chapter, a comprehensive synopsis, and a short letter asking them to represent you.

Most literary agents are swamped with manuscripts. Many of them are picky and hard to please. Do not feel frustrated if you experience some difficulty at this stage. Research will uncover many agents; in time, you will find an agent who will believe in your work and help you sell it.

Be wary of scammers who request up front reading fees. Make sure your chosen literary agents are legitimate. If you find agents advertising themselves too much, or advertising “rags-to-riches” offers and promises, then it’s likely they may not be the real deal.

As a writer who is determined to get your work published, finding a reputable literary agent is a basic step to achieve your goal. By doing so, you can get your stories across to people and help you make money from your art.

Writing a book is one journey, and the business aspect is another. A good literary agent can help launch your career as a writer and make things a whole lot easier for you. If you want to become successful in your book writing endeavors, it would certainly not hurt you to find a good agent.

About the Author: Brian Scott is founder of Book Proposal Writing ( ), a free website that teaches you how to write a book proposal. Download your free sample book proposal today.


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