Query: Literary Agencies

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  1. #1
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    Query: Literary Agencies

    What does a literary agency do, exactly? I have a few friends who work in publishing, but I think they just work at a publishing house instead of a literary agency.

    If anyone has any info, please let me know.

  2. #2
    Agents are the connection between writers and publishers.

    My agent takes what I write, gives me suggestions for polishing, then sends it to various publishing houses, coordinates their interest (or lack thereof) and when the time comes, negotiates the contracts. This can get fairly complicated if she's dealing with publishers in a variety of countries, etc. She would also represent me (or at least, her firm would) if I got offers for film rights, etc.

    Agents are also troubleshooters. If I'm having trouble with a publisher/editor, she steps in on my side.

    She also serves an advisory function. She pays attention to what's going on in the industry and gives me suggestions about how to direct future writing. I can send her three outlines and she can tell me which of them will be easiest to sell.

    Finally, through her contacts in the industry, she's able to send work my way. She doesn't just sell what I've already written, she puts me in contact with people who are looking for writers for various projects.

    I think that's about it, although other agents may do more?

  3. #3
    Perhaps this is just to simplistic a question for me but why would any agent, who's working hard at their job waste any time on someone like me and many others, who've never had any book published?

    Yes, I've read the blurbs, they all like finding the next great talent. I get that but each statement comes across as "as long as they write like Clancy, Rowling or Butcher.
    "Illegitimi non carborundum " Vinegar' Joe Stilwell

    "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

    "They can because they think they can."
    ​Virgil

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools will speak to say something." Plato

    "The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible."
    ​ Mark Twain

    "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States." George W. Bush



  4. #4
    Agents get a portion of the royalties as a commission. So they get paid if the book sells. Why would one take a chance on a new author? Because Clancy, et al already have agents. Besides, they need something to bring in money while the next smash hit is being (ghost) written.

    (I've read that a surprising number of best selling authors hire ghost writers to write for them. Don't know if it's true.)

  5. #5
    An agent signs an author when the author sends the agent a book the agent thinks she can sell. An agent won't sign an author if the agent doesn't think the book will sell.

    So... if you show the agent a book that looks like it will sell, why wouldn't​ the agent sign you?

  6. #6
    I’ll be a little pessimistic here. Because I’m unknown and almost unpublished. Besides the book , what is there to sign me.
    They might do better by remembering the Basic story arc and giving it to one of there more established authors.
    "Illegitimi non carborundum " Vinegar' Joe Stilwell

    "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

    "They can because they think they can."
    ​Virgil

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools will speak to say something." Plato

    "The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible."
    ​ Mark Twain

    "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States." George W. Bush



  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelwrath View Post
    I’ll be a little pessimistic here. Because I’m unknown and almost unpublished. Besides the book , what is there to sign me.
    They might do better by remembering the Basic story arc and giving it to one of there more established authors.
    I don't follow - giving what to their more established authors?

  8. #8
    The story idea so they can have it. My cousin, a lawyer, said for me to watch out for that and be careful with beta readers. He said that proof is hard to show. I’m unknown, so my ideas are more valuable that the actual story.
    "Illegitimi non carborundum " Vinegar' Joe Stilwell

    "Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." Martin Luther King Jr.

    What you learn in life is important, those you help learn, are more important.

    "They can because they think they can."
    ​Virgil

    "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools will speak to say something." Plato

    "The only difference between reality and fiction is that fiction needs to be credible."
    ​ Mark Twain

    "To those of you who received honors, awards and distinctions, I say well done. And to the C students, I say you, too, can be president of the United States." George W. Bush



  9. #9
    Um, no. They have their own ideas. This is an amateur preoccupation based on egosim. Other people aren't going to steal your precious.




    "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend reading it." - Groucho Marx

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Pelwrath View Post
    The story idea so they can have it. My cousin, a lawyer, said for me to watch out for that and be careful with beta readers. He said that proof is hard to show. I’m unknown, so my ideas are more valuable that the actual story.
    I really don't think this is a risk.

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