If you have a manuscript just waiting for exposure on your computer, you may be wondering exactly what a literary agent will do for you. Many novelists are stuck between whether or not they should self-publish or use a literary agent for their work, so here is a little more information as food for thought.
Perhaps you’ve noticed by now that most publishing houses do not accept any unsolicited manuscripts, so they require the go-between of a literary agent to work on behalf of the author. A literary agent will represent your manuscript to give you a better chance at getting published, yet many authors are reluctant to work with a literary agent because they charge up to a 15% fee. Still, this is something that should be considered acceptable, similar to the commission that is paid to a real estate agent.
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The major component of a literary agent’s job is to understand the market and represent a specific genre for publication. You may have found by now that literary agents often only list the type of works that they will accept based on a genre that they specialize in. Once your manuscript is ready, a literary agent will work on your behalf to contact publishing houses who may be the best fit for your book. Knowing the market is essential to effectively publishing a novel, which is why it is worthwhile to pay out this commission to an agent.
This is a very sticky and confusing part of the publishing process, and you want to make sure that you are getting a fair deal in your contract. There is a serious amount of paperwork in contract negotiation, and your agent will be able to explain the process to you each step of the way so that you get the best deal for your work.
Lastly, an agent may be able to help you with other topics related to your manuscript, such as e-book, audio, movie, and foreign rights, if necessary. This is why pays to look for an experienced agent that specializes in your genre for representation!
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