Doing It for Love and a Living: How an Agent Can Help You

Adapted from How to Get a Literary Agent by Michael Larsen. Reprinted by permission.

How a Literary Agent Can Help YouAn agent is

  • A mediator between you and the marketplace
  • A scout who knows what publishers are looking for
  • An editor who can provide guidance that will make your work more salable
  • A matchmaker who knows which editors and publishers to submit your book to, and just as important, which to avoid
  • A negotiator who hammers out the best contract
  • An advocate who helps answer questions and solve problems for the life of your book
  • A seller of subsidiary rights
  • An administrator who keeps track of income and paperwork
  • A rainmaker who may be able to get assignments from editors
  • A mentor about your writing and career
  • An oasis of encouragement

7 Things Agents Can Do That Writers Can’t

  1. By absorbing rejections and being a focal point for your business dealings, your agent helps free you to write.
  2. As continuing sources of manuscripts, agents have more clout with editors than writers.
  3. Your share of sub-rights income will be greater, and you will receive it sooner if your agent, rather than your publisher, handles them.
  4. Your agent enables you to avoid haggling about rights and money with your editor.
  5. Your agent can advise you about publicity and self-publishing and may offer these services.
  6. Editors may change jobs at any time, and publishers may change direction or ownership at any time, so your agent may be the only stable element in your career.
  7. The selling of your book deserves the same level of skill, care, knowledge, experience, passion, and perseverance that you dedicate to writing it. An agent can’t write your book as well as you can; you can’t sell it as well as an agent can.
Mike Larsen / Author,  Author Coach /
Co-director, San Francisco Writers Conference:
A Celebration of Craft, Commerce & Community /
San Francisco Writing for Change Conference: Writing to Make a Difference /
1029 Jones Street / San Francisco, 94109 / 415-673-0939

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