Five Benefits of Having a Literary Agent

Getting a literary agent takes you a step closer to getting published.

I signed a contract with an agent last month. (I can’t believe it, either!) While having a literary agent is no guarantee of finding a traditional publisher, the odds are good, and I’m thankful to have made it this far in the process. Thank you very much for your support in reading my blog.

Five Benefits of Having a Literary Agent
(based on what I’ve learned at writers workshops and conferences)

1. Your agent is a professional who represents your work.
As one who makes an income from procuring book contracts, your agent believes your work is publishable, shares your goal of seeing it in print, and roots for you.

A month after I signed the contract, my agent called with a status update. How nice to know that someone in the business cares about me as a writer!

A call from a literary agent can make your day.
A call from a literary agent can make your day.

2. Your agent represents a team of experts.
The agency team scrutinizes your book from a professional standpoint, offers editing suggestions, and helps you whip it into shape before the agent shops it around to publishers.

3. Your agent navigates the system as an insider.
Experience gives your agent insider knowledge of the mysterious, ever-changing, and powerful world of traditional publishing houses, including small and newer presses. Your agent is a net-worker who knows the editors at publishing companies and wouldn’t have signed a contract with you without ideas about which ones would be a good fit for your work.

4. Your agent mediates between you and publishers.
If you’re a writer, you’ve come up against publisher’s websites that say, “Not Accepting Submissions,” or “Agented Manuscripts Only.” An agent not only gets your work through the door but, once your work is accepted, negotiates the contract, looks out for your rights during editing decisions, and keeps tabs on royalty checks and the number of copies sold. While my goal is not to make money, readership is what a traditional publisher gives you.

People often ask me why I don’t publish my book myself. The answer is: I want thousands of people to read it. Most self-published books sell fewer than 100 copies.

A literary agent helps get your book into print.
A literary agent helps get your book into print.

5. Your agent shoulders the rejection, shares the success.
When publishing houses reject your project, it’s your agent who faces the initial rejection and, hopefully, lets you down easy. We writers receive so many rejections that I was startled to learn that agents get far more rejections than we do. Why? Because they submit far more manuscripts and submission means rejection.

May God bless my literary agent!

Posted on December 8, 2015

6 thoughts on “Five Benefits of Having a Literary Agent

  1. Congratulations, Norma, on this next big step toward being published! Can you share how you chose this agent?

    1. Thank you! I met this agent at a Writers Digest conference in Hollywood and again at a Northwest Christian Writers conference in Kirkland, where I attended his workshop. Getting an agent is kind of like getting engaged, because the agent and the writer have to check each other out to be sure they’re on the same wavelength. So I didn’t exactly choose him. Rather, he offered me a contract, and I accepted. Thanks for asking, Diane.

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