Why Have a Literary Agent

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jan 12 2021

If you want a career in traditional publishing you’re going to need a literary agent. What you might not yet know is why or how.

In short, a literary agent is the person in your career who can do the things you can’t. And that goes well beyond the contacts a literary agent has. Sure, a literary agent will get your book into the hands of editors, but what happens next, and could you handle that on your own? Or, more importantly, should you handle it on your own?

The most important things a literary agent can do, and does, is understand the business, negotiate contracts, know not just which editors, but which would be the right editors.

As with many things in life, we hire or bring on experts because we don’t know everything. Doctors will always be a better alternative to WebMD and when it comes to complicated business taxes, an account is your person.

As a professional writer it will be important for you to learn as much as you can about the business. It’s also important to hire people you trust to help you through the stuff you just can’t do yourself.

4 responses to “Why Have a Literary Agent”

  1. Avatar Tania says:

    Looking for a literary agent is like looking for a needle in a haystack. I have been working with a writing coach for the last 3 yrs. and looking for an agent for a lil over 1 yr. At this point it is very discouraging so now I am tackling 1st early chapter book to see if I can get my feet off the ground and returning to school for medical coding because this doesn’t seem to be working out for me sadly. Most want experienced writers 🙁

  2. Avatar AJ Blythe says:

    Exactly why I want an agent, although it is quite a tough journey, so I understand why some people choose to draw a line in the sand and switch to self-publishing. I think it is important to have a business plan (even as an unpublished author) because then things are more clear cut and I find it easier to stand my ground, as it were.

  3. Avatar Sandra Pollini says:

    Thanks everyone! I agree, agents know and help make our work become a reality. Such a wonderful feeling to see your BOOK for the first time. I have my RomCom novel finished, and the screenplay, I need the right agent! Where and how do I find her or him that can help with both? Frustrating.

    • Avatar AJ Blythe says:

      Sandra, books and screenplays are two completely separate kettles of fish, I’m afraid.
      You never query your book and screenplay together. To be honest, you never write the screenplay for the book unless contracted to (sorry). With a book, you sell it to a book publisher. If it does amazeballs then there might be talk of a TV/movie deal, but that is such an unlikely proposition you shouldn’t even think about it for now.

      The best thing to do is to try for an agent with your book. They will negotiate tv/movie deals if the need arises (but you still might not be the one to write the screenplay).

      If it is the screenplay you are more concerned with, then you will need to shop it to whoever screenplays are represented by (not my thing, so I have no idea).

      Good luck!