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What is a literary agent?

A literary agent is like a mediator between a writer and a publisher. Their goal is to assist authors in developing their stories into properly published books. Many authors evolved during the mid-1900s, and many of them struggled to gain attention for their works. It was then and there that the literary agent role was born. It is a literary agent who mediates between the publisher and the author, recognizing both parties’ interests.

What does a literary agent do?

Below are the duties of a literary agent. 

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  1. Helps clients get business: 

To a literary agent, both publisher and the writers are their clients. Their main activity is to engage with the end parties and represent both sides to negotiate the work, payment, dates, etc. In addition to overseeing book contracts, agents help their clients get speaking arrangements and organize licensing deals, all while keeping track of payments from these endeavors. 

  1. Reviews Manuscripts :

A good agent has an eye for good scripts, stories, and book content. They review the manuscript submitted by the clients and sometimes offer insights for improvements ensuring they deliver the best content to their publishers.

  1. Marketing:

Literary agents do their best to campaign the content, promote the authors’ writings and sample chapters, and act as marketing agents to book publishers. 

Are Literary Agents Important?

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Having a literary agent might be a useful tool for an author to decide whether to hire one based on the workload and the focus needed to devote to the project.


  1. The literary agent might have contacts; hence, it is easy to establish connections with reputed publishers. 
  2. A professional service is rendered at every stage of the book publishing process.
  3. A professional negotiator who could offer help in claiming royalties.
  4.  Helps the author know about deals and discounts. 
  5. The writers can just focus on writing while all other workloads will be balanced by a literary agent.


  1. Sometimes, failing to reach authentic sources might land the authors in trouble. 
  2. The literary agents grab 15 % of the commission.
  3. It takes time as the agents have many customers involved. 

Where to find these Literary agents?

From databases to social media, today’s authors have more opportunities than ever to secure an agent. 

  • Literary agent databases.
  • Twitter.
  • Published books.
  • In-person events.

Databases for literary agents:

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The internet is continuously updating with new databases for literary agents. Here are some of the most comprehensive:

On the whole, a literary agent is just like a midwife between an author and their obstetrician (Editor -Publisher). A midwife is optional, but it is usually helpful when we cannot focus on all directions regarding book publishing and when there are delays in connecting with publishers, these agents come to our rescue. 

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