Literary Agents

Written by Christa Gatewood
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There is no hard and fast rule about who needs a literary agent and who does not. Getting a literary agent is a trade off. You have to decide if the advantages of having an agent outweigh the disadvantages.

The Advantages and Disadvantages of Having a Literary Agent

It is important to understand what a literary agent can and cannot do. A literary agent cannot get a mediocre book proposal bought. Trade publishers are very selective about the material they publish, no matter how it gets to them. A literary agent can, however, get a book proposal read. Submissions to publishers from agents typically find the way to the top of the pile because agents develop relationships with publishers. Whether the proposal is accepted or not is dependent on how good it is.

A literary agent can also be helpful in negotiating a contract with a publisher. Agents have expertise in publishing contracts that an author may not. Publishers usually have the upper-hand when negotiating a contract, but having a good literary agent can help balance out the power.

Having a literary agent, however, is not without its disadvantages. First of all, you have to pay an agent at least a portion of your earnings. You might also have to pay additional fees. This can become expensive. Moreover, there are some agents who will take your money and do nothing on your behalf. Steer clear of these scam artists and bolt at the first sign of any shady business. If a literary agent is not for you, you may want to self publish and handle the promotion of your book yourself.

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