What do literary agents do?
A literary agent represents your book to acquiring editors who want to publish it. In other words, an agent gets an author's foot in the door of a publishing house — and onto the path of getting traditionally published.
In addition to championing you and your writing and serving as your point of contact with others in publishing, literary agents understand editors’ tastes and the types of books they are looking to add to their lists — a crucial component in getting any publishing house to invest in your work. Since most big publishers don’t accept unsolicited submissions, getting a literary agent who’s accepting submissions is the most realistic route to traditional publication.
Aside from getting your foot in the door, what else do literary agents do?
- They are expert negotiators, combining publishing acumen with a nose for the value of good, sellable writing;
- They act as mediators between you and your publisher (when you don’t want to hurt your working relationship with an editor by talking brass tacks);
- They manage the financial and marketing side of things while you concentrate on the writing; and
- They often have strong editorial skills, helping refine your manuscript before you submit it to a publisher.
Resources for landing a literary agent in 2021
You might think that a great book is all you need to catch a literary agent’s attention. But you’ll need to put in a good amount of work to land them — and that includes everything from the careful study of each agent's wishlist to personalizing your query letter for each candidate..
Whether you’re learning how to research literary agents accepting submissions or how to query the right way, we've got you covered.
Free online materials
- How to Get a Query Letter Review (and Why It's Important)
- How to Find a Literary Agent
- What Do Agents Do? (And Do You Need One?)
- How to Write a Query Letter in 7 Steps
- How to Personalize Your Query Letters
- How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal
- How to Write a Nonfiction Query Letter