Wednesday, June 4, 2014

So you think you can write? - Literary Agents, and what they do

What is a literary agent?
The key that you need to unlock the mysterious world of publishing.
That’s because most publishing houses no longer accept book submissions or book ideas directly from authors. Publishers will only consider your book or manuscript if it’s submitted to them by a literary agent.
So, what is a literary agent?
What is a book agent but a gatekeeper?
A gatekeeper.
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What Is a Literary Agent for Authors?

Literary agents (also known as book agents or publishing agents) act primarily as authors’ representatives for the sale and/or licensing of their books with large domestic publishers like Random House and Simon & Schuster, and sometimes small- or medium-sized domestic publishers like Peachtree Publishing.
Book agents also sometimes act as authors’ representatives for the sale and/or licensing of books with foreign publishing houses, theatrical producers, film and TV producers, and magazine publishers (interested in publishing an excerpt from an author’s book).
What is a book agent but a salesperson?
What is a literary agent in just one word?
A salesperson.
Many book agents do more than simply find the best publisher for your book and negotiate the best contract. But, having the desire and ability to sell your book to a publisher is the only thing that all publishing agents have in common.
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What is a literary agent?
To some authors, book agents are a necessary evil.
That’s because it can sometimes seem harder to get a literary agent than a publisher. It can also be difficult to find a book agent interested in representing you, one that’s also competent and a pleasure to work with. You might think of finding the perfect book agent as something akin to finding your soul mate.
What is a book agent but a soul mate?
Does it matter what genre your book is?
Nope.
Book agents represent authors of fiction, nonfiction, children’s book, graphic novels, short story collections, screenplays, etc.
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What else does a literary agent do?
What is a book agent and job responsibilities
A lot…
Like I said a moment ago, most agents do more than just find the best publisher for your book and negotiate the best contract.

What Does a Literary Agent
Do for Authors?

That depends. That’s because there are just as many types of book agents in the world, as there are books. Okay, not exactly. But it’s true that the only thing all agents have in common is their desire, and ability, to sell your book and negotiate the best contract. That’s just the tip of the iceberg…
What does a book agent do for authors?
Most agents bring a lot more to the table.
Let’s take a closer look…
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What Does a Literary Agent Do for Authors?

Book agents can be involved in every stage of the book development, publication, and publicity process. Here are some of the things that I helped my authors with during my time as a publishing agent.
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What does a book agent do for book development?
Book Development - What Does a Literary Agent Do? A book agent can help you find the perfect title/subtitle or even the best style/structure for your book to give it the most bestseller or commercial potential. Some book agents (especially those who are former editors) will even help you edit your book.
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What does a book agent do for your platform?
Book Development - What Does a Literary Agent Do? A book agent can help you find the perfect title/subtitle or even the best style/structure for your book to give it the most bestseller or commercial potential. Some book agents (especially those who are former editors) will even help you edit your book.
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What does a book agent do for your pitch?
Pitch Development - What Does a Literary Agent Do? A book agent can help you edit your book synopsis and proposal (if you’re pitching a nonfiction book). He can even help you research and better understand your competition, and differentiate your book from “similar” titles.
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What does a book agent do to get a deal?
Get a Book Deal - What Does a Literary Agent Do?
Of course a book agent will also “shop” your book to publishers. He might do this by email, phone, courier, postal mail, and/or face-to-face (or using a combination of all these methods). Then he will negotiate the best terms for your contract.
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What does a book agent do during publication?
The Publication Process - What Does a Literary Agent Do?After your book is sold to a traditional publisher, your book agent will monitor your book’s progress through the editing, cover design, and production processes. If you have any difficulties, your agent will help you solve them.
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What does a book agent do for publicity?
Book Promotion - What Does a Literary Agent Do? Your book agent might also help you strategize (and implement) promotion strategies with your publisher: website and/or blog development, social media, working with publicists, securing blurbs and reviews, distributing press releases, book tours, etc.
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What does a book agent do for subsidiary rights?
Subsidiary Rights - What Does a Literary Agent Do? Some book agents take a primary role in exploring (and negotiating) the sale of subsidiary rights for books such as: foreign editions, translations, book clubs, licensing, merchandising, stage, TV, feature film, serial rights for magazines, etc.
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What does a book agent do for your career?
Writing Career Development - What Does a Literary Agent Do? If you’re interested in writing and publishing more than one manuscript, your book agent can help you determine which manuscripts have the most bestseller or commercial potential… and tell you which one you should try to sell first.
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What does a book agent do for your brand?
Brand Development - What Does a Literary Agent Do? If you and/or your book have enough potential, your publishing agent might help you turn your book (or series of books) into a brand. This basically means building a business around your book(s) with multiple streams of income.
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What does a book agent do for support?
Emotional Support - What Does a Literary Agent Do? Although book agents aren’t therapists, many agents are highly skilled at telling their authors what they need to hear (when they need to hear it) to keep them focused, positive, and productive.
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Conclusion – What Does a Literary Agent Do? Maybe I should answer that question by asking… what doesn’t a literary agent do for his or her authors? You can be sure of one thing. Good literary agents do a lot more than just get book deals and negotiate book contracts!

Literary Agents Pros and Cons for Authors

If you want to get a traditional publisher, you really
only have two choices:
  1. You can get a literary agent who will approach publishers for you
  2. You can attempt to approach publishers yourself
To help you decide which option is best for you and your book,
let’s take a look at some literary agents pros and cons.
Starting with…
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The Pros

Literary agents pros and cons target
Agents Know Exactly Who to Send Your Book To
Book agents are familiar with individual publishers and their lists. Agents are also intimate with the preferences, strengths, and weaknesses of individual editors at publishing houses. That knowledge will allow your agent to submit your book to the perfect editors at the best publishers for you.
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Literary agents pros and cons publishers
More Publishers Will Review Your Book
Most publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions from authors. That means you’re not allowed to submit your query or manuscript directly to publishers. You need a literary agent to submit your work on your behalf. Although some publishers accept submissions directly from authors, most don’t.
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Book agents pros and cons urgent
Publishers Will Take Your Work More Seriously
Top agents have access to senior editors and executives, due to the agent’s track record of success. This allows agents to pitch books face-to-face (sometimes with the author present), submit books to publishers simultaneously, hold auctions, and get deals done faster.
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Book agents pros and cons contract
You’ll Get Better Contract Terms
Book agents are skilled negotiators who can get you larger advances and higher royalty rates, multi-book deals, bonuses for any awards or special recognition that your book gets, a bigger promotional budget, hardcover and paperback edition commitments, an earlier publication date, etc.
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Book agents pros and cons problems
Your Agent Will Troubleshoot Any Problems
Agents handle any challenges that come up during the publication or post-publication process, so you don’t have to. For example: editors that are difficult, fired, laid-off, or retire; title changes or bad book cover design; bad reviews or publicity; poor book sales; changes in the industry or marketplace; etc.
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Book agents pros and cons deal
Your Agent Might Bring You Extra Book Ideas & Book Deals
You might not be aware of this, but top book agents often bring their authors ideas for new books. Sometimes those book ideas are something the agent came up with. Other times, those book ideas are something that an editor with a publishing house came up with. There’s never been an easier way to get a book deal.
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And now…
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The Cons

Book agents pros and cons control
Sharing Control
You might not be comfortable having someone (like an agent) speaking on your behalf. But your book agent can serve as a buffer, and deal with challenging situations (see above). That will allow you to maintain a positive and productive relationship with everyone at your publishing house.
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Literary agents pros and cons commission
Commission
Book agents earn every bit of their 15% agent commission. Most agents will get you at least that much more of an advance, but they’ll also get you better royalties. That means you’ll make more money than you would representing yourself. Plus your agent will manage any crises (see above).
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Literary agents pros and cons waiting
Waiting
One of the most difficult things to do as an author is wait, but you better get used to it. Once you have a literary agency representing you, you’ll have to wait for him to get you a publisher. Then you’ll have to wait for your publisher to publish your book. But I promise you the wait will be worth it.
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Conclusion – Literary Agents Pros and Cons

These literary agents pros and cons should make it easy for you to decide on the best way to approach publishers. Take advantage of all the resources on this website to help you get the best book agent possible… so you get a major publisher and a major book deal.
Conclusion literary agents pros and cons