last month I was invited by my dear friend Marilyn Davis to write an article for her fabulous writers’ website “TwoDropsofInk” titled; Authors: Book Promote Like a Pro!
In my article, I clarified the differences between literary agents, publicists, and book promoters…
Literary Publicist: Is a person who publicizes, especially a press agent or public-relations consultant. They are an expert in current or public affairs, and an expert on federal or international law.
Literary Agent: Is a person who represents writers and their written works to publishers, theatrical producers, film producers and film studios, and assists in the sale and deal negotiations of the same.
Literary Book Promoter or Marketer
Literary Book Promoter or marketer: Is a person who promotes, especially as an active supporter, advocate, or paid publicity organizer to promote one’s work through various forms like press releases, through social media, and more. That is what I do
So now that we know the differences, I came across another fantastic article on TCK Publishing about: How To Get A Literary Agent. When I got my email newsletter from them, it had a great article and guide on how to go about this. So I emailed “The Guy,” Best Selling Author, Tom Corson-Knowles to ask if I could share some of this article and HOPE writer’s that you will go read the rest and view The Guide he was kind enough to share with us on their website within the article here: “How To Get A Literary Agent”.
In the weird, wonderful world of publishing, there are a few key figures that everyone knows about: publishers, editors, and literary agents.
But do you really know what those folks do all day?
In an age when anyone can upload a file and start selling their book on Amazon in a few clicks, why do these old-school roles still matter? How do they add value to your publishing journey?
Let’s take an in-depth look at the literary agent, one of the key figures in the traditional publishing industry. We’ll check out what they do every day to help you and your book succeed, what it might cost you to work with an agent, and how you can find an agent.
We’ll also talk with publishing industry experts and agents themselves about what to do—and not to do—if you want to work with an agent, and how to get the most out of your relationship.
Let’s get started!
What Is a Literary Agent?
No matter what creative industry you’re talking about—film, TV, books, music—there’s usually someone called an “agent” working in it.
That’s because, when you get right down to it, creative people want to be creating, not worrying about business matters. But the businesspeople who put that creative material out to the public want to make sure little things like deadlines are met, and that contracts are signed, paperwork is filled out, and so on.
So a kind of go-between developed between creative professionals and business types: the agent.
Agents are kind of like business managers for creatives: writers, actors, artists, musicians, and so on. They handle all the nitty-gritty details so that you can get on with the important work of creating.
What Does an Agent Do?
Agents do a lot of things that authors can do for themselves, but that takes a lot of time and effort to keep on top of.
The key part of any agent’s job is getting their clients work. They negotiate deals like publishing contracts or speaking gigs, keep track of licensing arrangements, and coordinate payment from all those different deals.
But agents do far more than just making deals!
Literary agents, in particular, often partner with the authors they represent to improve a manuscript, working together on edits and development to refine the book until it’s sure to knock the socks off a publisher.
The agent also puts together a query and pitch package for the book to submit to publishers, helping put the manuscript’s best foot forward and show exactly why the publisher should pay top dollar for that book.
A great pitch package is more than just a summary of the book. In nonfiction, it includes a summary of every chapter and its content, a basic marketing plan, an examination of other comparable books on the market, and more.
Basically, it’s a mini-business plan for your book…and that takes a lot of work to put together! Agents know the style, format, and content that will appeal to a busy acquisitions editor and they can put together a package that’ll impress.
“Former agent Elizabeth Evans (now an independent editor) says, “It’s not often discussed in the publishing process, but I think an important part of being a good agent is understanding how to help a writer create his or her most powerful work.”
A Day in the Life of an Agent
Agents spend most of their time reading submissions and sending notes on the books that come across their desks. They field dozens, if not hundreds, of queries every week and have to quickly evaluate whether the book is ready to publish—and whether it has market potential.
If something interesting and well-written comes across their email, they’ll request the full manuscript to review, to make sure that the writing through the whole book lives up to the promise of the query and the sample pages.
When a book really hits home, they’ll offer to represent the author—you!—and then start the process of working with you to refine the book, create a pitch package, and find a publisher.
If you’re lucky, the agent will be able to start an auction for the rights to publish your book, getting several interested editors at different publishing houses to bid on it. The combination of the most money and the best terms and marketing support wins!
Once the book is under contract with a publisher, the agent’s work doesn’t end! Now, your agent will help coordinate edit timelines, marketing support, book tours, and more.
They’ll also keep track of contract details and collect your royalties on your behalf.
Once the book is published, some agents will also help sell subsidiary rights, which are other ways to make money off your writing. Some agents represent subsidiary rights themselves, while others have someone in their agency whose entire job is to handle subsidiary rights.
These rights include film or TV options, foreign translation rights, audiobook rights, and more.
All in all, subsidiary rights can add up to a lot of income for you as the author! But making all those deals can be very time-consuming, so it’s really handy to have an agent pursuing all those options on your behalf.
An agent’s day varies constantly, but on an average day, your agent is probably:
- Calling editors to discuss possible projects
- Checking royalty statements for accuracy
- Making notes on a client’s new marketing plan
- Scanning Publishers Weekly to see what’s been selling
- Writing a query for a new book
- Responding to pitch emails
- Fielding phone calls and emails from clients
- Taking notes on client projects
- Reading new manuscript submissions (often after standard working hours!)
There is so much more to learn from this fantastic and helpful article!
I thank TomCorson-Knowles for letting me share some of this with all my writer and author friends here. Please stop by and read the rest of how to get the very BEST AGENT possible and to see if you need one!
Check out what they offer for all your publishing needs…
“CAT LYON’S Reading and Writing Den” ~ See How I can Promote Your Books!
“Lyon Literary Media & Book Promo Service”