Author’s Journey: The Benefits of Having a Literary Agent


Author’s Journey: The Benefits of Having a Literary Agent

Last year, I was blessed to land a literary agent for my Mistaken Identity book, the first in the SAT Security and Investigation Series. But due to personal challenges, my agent needed to tailor back her workload. But I was blessed again. The head of the literary agency asked if she could represent my work. How lucky I am to have an amazing woman and team on my side. Not only does their representation validate my work as a budding fiction author, but it offers so many other benefits.

First, I feel validated. I feel grateful to have the stamp of a couple of experts that my book is worth sharing with the world.

While this is no guarantee that it will be published, it gives me confidence and hope. But these are just the emotional benefits that come from having a literary agent. Trust me, there are so many more. The extra eyes on the manuscript, the proofreading, editing, honest feedback, and author platform coaching, not to mention handholding every step of the way.

And of course, let us not forget the opening of doors. Literary agents are your gateway to publishers. They know the best people in the industry for your book and know how to bring author and publisher together. While I’m still new to the literary agent relationship, there are millions of authors who have vast experience with agent representation for their works. So, as I always do, I’ll turn the mic over to my author friends and experts and let them share the benefits they’ve experienced by working with a literary agent.

“Nowadays, it’s impossible to be published by a large publisher without the representation of an agent. A good agent will help you get the best publishing deal, including interfacing with other agents for foreign translations and movie deals. But the best agents are also highly editorial. Their input can be golden when it comes to making your work the best it can be, before you team up to look for a publisher. This is why you’ll want to find the best personal match, someone who really understands and loves your writing, when you’re looking for a literary agent.” ~ Carole Stivers is the author of The Mother Code, which was nominated for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Science Fiction in 2020, and has been published in 15 languages.

“Partnering with the right agent is a great way to professionally pair with someone who is equally as invested in advancing your career – they are someone to volley ideas off of, to commiserate with, to gossip with, and to celebrate unabashedly with. Your agent should be the person who will shoot you straight when others may be unable, who will help you work through and process your ideas until you get them right, who will help you see when an idea might not be in the right spot for the market, and who will work tirelessly to convince others that the idea is worth pursuing.

Additionally, having an agent cuts through the noise and to the point – good agents should have their ear to the ground on what is going on in the business, not just the “who’s who”, but the “whats changing” and the “What to look out for”. Agents also should be diligent on the business side of matters, knowing the current contractual conversations and evolutions, the trends in royalty statements, rights reversions, licensing opportunities, and opportunities. Today’s business offers a lot of different ways to be published and not all require having an agent, but, for those who are looking to have someone to “do life with” as it applies to their writing career, finding the right agent can be a great 360 degree answer.” ~ Elaine Spencer Unzicker, Literary Agent and VP of Operations at the Knight Agency

“Literary agents cultivate relationships with editors in their areas of expertise. The author needs an agent who understands you and your genre well to find you the best editor and publishing house. An agent not only finds the book deal but also negotiates the contract and holds your hand through the entire process, with all of the celebrations and the handwringing, too. We fight for our authors and help them understand what is a reasonable or not request. Your agent understands everything you have been through to get to the book launch and beyond, make sure she or he is someone you would want to raise a glass with. I love working in book publishing; it takes a great deal of patience but is so worth it in the end.” ~ Lisa Hagan owns Lisa Hagan Literary, known for anticipating future book trends and is among the first to successfully create, shape, and develop appropriate projects with their scientist, writer, innovative cultural-creative, worldwide clients.  

“I joined Aevitas Creative Management as an agent at the end of 2023 after focusing on acquisitions for over 20 years at a large, global publisher.  When I was managing a team of editors, I didn’t always have time to focus on the creative, idea-generating work I’ve always loved, so what excites me most about changing sides of the table is being able to coach authors as they develop their big ideas into marketable books.  While editors do often work with authors long-term, a big part of an agent’s role is to help authors build careers. The best agents I’ve worked with over the years have been able to connect what authors want to write about with what their audience wantsand what their publisher believes can sellso they can publish book after book.” ~ Donya Dickerson, literary agent with Aevitas Creative Management.

“Working with a literary agent is one of the best decisions I have made for my career. The world of writing, especially for someone unfamiliar with it, is complex and there is so much to learn. My agent helped me through every step from writing a killer book proposal, to finding the right publisher, to always ensuring my intellectual property was protected. Every aspect of my book, including the cover, content, structure, and blurbs are better because of her. Beyond writing, my agent has helped me grow my career in other ways as I promote the book through podcasts and talks. Her assistance in prioritization of tasks, occasional gentle nudges, and constant encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to do so many things outside of my regular job (medicine) and I am forever grateful.”  ~ Hasan Merali, MD, pediatric emergency medicine physician, child health researcher, and author of Sleep Well, Take Risks, Squish the Peas.

To be clear, you don’t need a literary agent to be traditionally published. Nor do you need to be traditionally published. But this Author’s Journey is focused on this step on the path. With that being said, let’s hear your experiences.Do you have a literary agent? Are you seeking one to represent your manuscript? What benefits have you found in this relationship?

 

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