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What Authors Should and Should Not Expect From Agents

One of the first steps that any author does to get his book published is to query a literary agent to help the author get the attention of a publisher. An agent acts as a go-between for authors and their potential publishers. Agents are an author’s best chance of getting a book published. What exactly does a literary agent do?

The main job of an agent is to get an editor who likes an author’s book enough to consider buying it. Experienced agents are connected to many editors who work at publishing houses. They are well aware of what editors are looking for and are very good at determining which editors to send authors’ submissions. Literary agents use stringent screening processes to know which submissions are worth taking to editors. Editors know this and, as a result, any submission from an agent is given priority. Agents do not buy rights to publications and then try to sell them to editors. They also give no promises.

Agents act in the best interests of the author. As they are pitching a book to publishers, they always try to get the best deal for an author. After all, it is in their best interests to get the most profitable deals for authors since they work on a commission basis. After successfully negotiating a deal with publishers, agents don’t stop there. They manage all business affairs with a publisher. Among the matters they deal with include: royalty settlements, contract disputes, collection of money, making sure that the author is on good terms with publishers, and freeing up the author to continue writing. Although agents are not lawyers, they are very knowledgeable about authors’ rights and book contracts.

Good agents might critique and edit a manuscript to make it more marketable. They offer valuable suggestions to authors to make sure that the final product will appeal to editors and publishers. Authors must make sure that they have a completed and well formatted manuscript before asking for an agent’s input. The only books that can be pitched while still incomplete are self-help books and how-to type of books. Agents do not edit entire books nor should they be expected to rewrite anything. They only make suggestions.

Agents act as representatives of authors. Since they are paid on commission basis, they don’t get paid well if the book doesn’t sell well. They encourage writers and make sure they meet deadlines. They also offer career support to authors by telling them how to reach wider audiences and keep authors informed about publishing trends. Agents do not act as publicists, tax consultants, writing coaches, or personal bankers. Although they offer moral support, they cannot act as therapists. They usually don’t get involved with an author’s marketing strategy.

To become successful in his writing career, an author has to know exactly what services to expect from his agent. An agent is one of the best allies that an author can get in his career. Agents can help to improve authors’ writing careers and make them more rewarding.