Advice about Agents

July 2003
by Mary Embree

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Because rights revenues can make a big contribution to a publisher’s profitability but rights deals can be time-consuming and complex, many publishers hire literary agents to represent them, just as authors frequently do.

There are good agents and bad agents, of course, and a bad agent is worse than none at all. So if having a literary agent seems like a good idea in terms of the kinds of books you publish and your distribution setup, you can use the information that follows to decide whether to hunt for one and to figure out which one is best suited to you and your work.

Pros & Cons

There are clear advantages and disadvantages to having a literary agent.

Agents may be more able to get you an offer from a major publisher than you can yourself. After all, that’s their specialty. Experienced agents know which publishers buy the kind of book you’re offering. They may already have a relationship with particularly suitable rights buyers because they’ve placed other books with them. And they may also get you a larger advance and bigger royalties than you could negotiate for yourself, as well as a more advantageous contract all around because rights deals are their area of expertise.

One obvious disadvantage is that you’ll probably be required to give the agent 15% of your advance and royalties. Checks for both advances and royalties will be mailed to your agent, who will deduct the commission and sen…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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