What Is A Literary Agent?

Written by Joy MacKay
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Literary agents are constantly on the lookout for fresh, new writers. Without a literary agent, you will be hard-pressed to find editors who are willing to even look at your manuscripts, let alone give your writing the chance it deserves. Literary and signatory agents act as a medium between a talented writer and an established publisher, to negotiate the sale of your book, and handle the finer details of your book deal.

What Is a Literary Agent?

The first and most important job of any literary agent is to protect your best interests as a writer. As you begin your writing career, they will submit you to publishers, with whom they have established long and close relationships. Literary agents will promote your writing and your manuscript, in ways you could never do yourself.

Once you are presented with an offer, literary agents take care of the details for you--negotiating your compensation, and handling of your copyrights. Some publishers will want to retain rights to your work, or prevent you from publishing the same work elsewhere. Literary agents will garner you the best rights and salary package for your career, and help open doors to publishing markets you might never have considered yourself.

Literary Agents Are Your Best Advisors

Above all, finding the best literary agent means finding the most solid advice you could receive in publishing. The literary agent doesn't succeed unless you do--and your agent has taken you on because they believe in your success. What is a literary agent going to gain by giving you anything other than the best counsel?

Obtaining literary representation is paramount, for all writers in the book publishing industry. When you begin writing in a quiet room, there are few details to think about beyond those contained in your creations. However, when you begin to seek publishing and circulation of your work, the questions and details can seem endless. What is a literary agent? Quite simply, the best sounding board you will find throughout your career as a published writer. Literary agents are your biggest fans, your strongest advocates, and your guides as you travel the road to publication.

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