Looking for an Agent?
By Dr. Linda F. Beed
Within the literary industry, the do’s and don’ts for each step toward publication will vary from person to person.
One of the most hotly debated subjects is the necessity of a literary agent. Pondering this alone can be a tremendous undertaking for most. Questions to be asked are broad and can enhance rather than relieve your anxiety.
Before one can delve into a possible search for an agent, it would be prudent to know what the function of this literary professional is.
After speaking with literary agents, I have composed their agreed upon definition of their position and their primary functions on the author’s behalf. The consensus is that a literary agent is one who, on behalf of their client, negotiates the best contract they can with publishing companies. Depending upon the client/representative relationship, negotiations can extend to the securing of public appearances and collaboration on other projects.
Typical Agent Services Include:
Determining the viability of a manuscript
Creating a manuscript proposal
Vetting viable avenues for sending manuscript
Negotiating the sell of manuscript to publisher
Helping author develop a career strategy
Cultivating and pursuing other options for author
Keeping current with and updating client of industry trends
What an agent earns (commission) varies from conversation to conversation.
Typically, it is agreed that 10% to 20% is considered the norm. This percentage comes from the author’s earnings and is applied to income spelled out in the agreed upon contract. Agents asking for payment in advance are not considered reputable and should be eliminated from your list of possibilities.
Being the research queen that I am, I compiled a list of the most common responses from authors and other industry professionals regarding literary agents.
Reasons to Have an Agent
The majority of the larger publishing houses only accept agented manuscripts.
Agents tend to know what type of manuscript a house is looking for.
An agent has a better understanding of the industry’s processes and contract language.
Because the agent is commission based they will work diligently to secure the best contract.
Reasons Not to Have an Agent
Many authors have published without the services of an agent.
Not having an agent minimizes the outgo from your writing income.
Avenues for submissions are not as hard to find as they once were.
Please note that the information above is not comprehensive, but does give the seeking author options to consider. The decision to obtain the services of an agent is one that should be given careful consideration. Determining what your need is should be the first consideration. Do not be in a hurry and definitely ask questions of those with good and bad experiences.
Until next time, remember—Purposely Said words can destroy or create a life. Linda!
Dr. Linda Beed is an educator, speaker, children’s minister and author of Business Unusual. She co-moderators BWChristianLit, maintains its sister online blog and is the founder of the Damascus Road Authors, review editor for KDGospel Media Magazine and contributor to Victorious Voice Magazine.
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