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How Do Literary Agents Fit into the World of Self-publishing?

You have spent months, maybe years, in writing and perfecting your book and have decided to self-publish in order to get your book ‘out there’ and read. However, now you want to reach even more readers and have your book for sale in thousands of bookstores, something not easily achievable when self-published. You therefore have decided to go down the more traditional route of finding a publisher and, more importantly, a literary agent. Now the question is how does a literary agent fit into the world of self-published authors?

Well, the answer is that they do. Many literary agents, and especially those who are up and coming, are on the lookout for fresh blood so to speak, and in particular those who have self-published. There no longer seems to be a stigma surrounding the image of self-publishing and many literary agents are now open to the idea of promoting and taking on board self-published authors.

For any author, though, it can be incredibly difficult to find a literary agent, self-published or not. The general consensus of advice for self-published authors is that you need to send a manuscript to prospective agents and not your self-published book, as this will in all likelihood not be read. You therefore need to produce a well written, ‘typo-free' piece of work as anything else will be rejected. You need to appear professional and respectful in your application process; you want to be taken seriously. First impressions really do matter

One of the many difficulties for self-published authors is that of being taken seriously by publishing companies. One way of achieving this is through representation by a literary agent. They can help push and promote your work as they have a voice.

There are several benefits in having a literary agent as they can open the door to many opportunities. Most commercial publishers will not even consider looking at your manuscript if you are not represented by a literary agent. Therefore, to get your work through a publishing house door, you really need the help of a literary agent.

One important thing to consider, though, is that literary agents cost money and that you have less control when you go down the traditional publishing route. When you self-publish, you can earn 100 % royalties in some cases, but this will not be possible when you publish through a publishing company. They will receive usually a 15% royalty fee and so will your literary agent. This is something to keep in mind. However, having said that, you will be selling more books and gaining a wider readership.

The main issue surrounding self-publication is that many self-published authors are not taken seriously by literary agents, but it seems that times are changing due to the massive influx of independent authors out there creating eBooks and using the many self-publishing platforms that are available. They are able to perfect their craft before approaching literary agents.

Perfect your manuscript, be confident and go and search for those literary agents.