Business Overview

A literary agency provides agents to represent writers and helps them ultimately sell their work to publishers. Your services to a client may extend beyond their initial publication. For instance, you or your agents may need to represent the client who writes a successful book when it comes to film or television adaptations of his work.

Who is this business right for?

It should go without saying, but this is a business for those who love literature. This is not only because you will be doing so much reading, but so you can understand the literary market into which your clients are trying to publish. It's also a good job for those who like to help others, as you will essentially be your client's only advocate in the intimidating processes of publishing and selling their work.

What happens during a typical day at a literary agency?

In no particular order, your daily activities include discovering new clients as well as communicating with the clients you have. You will also have meetings with editors from different publishing houses that may eventually buy the works of your clients. The job also involves writing things like pitch letters for these editors and submitting formal copies of manuscripts to them. You will also be in charge of reading your client's’ books so that you are prepared to properly market them to publishing companies and the public.

What is the target market?

You will have a diverse array of clients, but the best ones will always be those who react well to criticism. A major part of your job is discovering the most marketable angle of clients' work and recommending changes, and clients who are receptive to these ideas are much easier to work with.

How does a literary agency make money?

Most literary agents make money by working on a set commission. Therefore, whatever payment their clients eventually get from a publisher, an agent would typically get about fifteen percent of that amount.

What is the growth potential for a literary agency?

The growth potential for this business is modest, with a projected three percent growth projected between 2014 and 2024.