Who are Literary Agents
Firstly, We need to understand the roles of Literary Agents. Authors sometimes seek the helping hand of literary agents. Agents help authors negotiate contracts, ensure liquidation and act as intermediaries between authors and publishers.
The literary agent can also work as an advisor. Authors are usually busy and not every author can make a living by just writing. That’s where a literary agent can give advice and direct authors towards a suitable domain.
Some agents act as editors; they edit their clients’ manuscripts before handing it to publishers. This can improve the possibility of the manuscript’s acceptance. It’s essential to mention that not all agents specialize in editing. It’s a huge plus if you collaborate with a literary agent that worked in a publishing house before and has the required editing skills.
Also, agents tend to act as business managers for authors. They conduct regular follow-ups with publishers and tracking the marketing and sales progress frequently.
How to find a Literary Agent?
Literary Agents are quite busy. They’re frequently receiving tons of emails. Moreover, They might be very picky when choosing an author to work with for many reasons including financials, values, and personal identity or maybe they specialize in working with specific genres. Seems tough? Well, there’s always another side of the equation. Agents attend literary conferences. Checking nearby events might be a good start.
Social media can be a good place to exert your effort into. You can be recognized by agents when you invest some time and energy in marketing and personal branding.
Essentially, you need to understand that agents are more likely to work with you if you’ve been referred to by someone they know or you both have met in person and had a meaningful conversation. Never underestimate the power of networking, it’s our human nature at the end; We’re social beings!
Do writers need agents?
Here’s the bottom line, an agent will work with you if they know that they can sell and promote your work. It’s a win-win situation. It has nothing to do with pragmatism. However, both parties ( The author and the agent) need to gain the maximum benefit from each other. Your agent will demand a percentage of your book sales. It can be 10% on average. Nevertheless, Some big names like HarperCollins and Macmillan will be tough to reach without an agent. If you’re a non-fiction author make sure that your book’s topic can sound profitable to a publisher and an agent. Usually, big publishers don’t sign a non-fiction book unless they’re expecting a minimum number of copies to be sold. Agents need to discuss with authors frankly the rejections they faced.
Moreover, as an author, you’ll need constructive criticism to keep moving forward with your writing process. Agents can help you honestly with professional feedback on your work. Publishers have high tendency to consider manuscripts coming from agents, as a form of filtration and to increase the possibility of their success.
Publishers are business people
To have a better understanding of how traditional publishing works, You need to understand that the necessary foundation of traditional publishing is business-oriented. Big Publishing houses seek an increase in their market share. It’s a battle on who’s going to acquire the next best-seller. Does that ring a bell? Well, absolutely! Businesses are mainly profit-oriented, and publishers operate accordingly. The whole process of publishing is almost identical to production. Having a product/service that takes operational costs, maintenance support and marketing expenses is parallel to a book’s publishing process. You start with a manuscript that needs editing and proofreading, and after, someone designs the book’s pages and cover and voila! It’s ready for print. Moreover, the marketing phase can be executed through the whole period once an author is promoting a new book which is still in the making.
The Publisher seeks a business partner that can take a calculated risk for. Publishers receive book proposals regularly. They focus on a meaningful book idea that can be a bang for their bucks. Publishers invest their money in promoting a book, and nobody wants to risk their money on a bad deal.
The Future of the Publishing industry
With the rise of big corporations’ facilities that eliminates the difficulties of publishing a book; accompanied by the rise of the iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, and high-speed Internet accessibility; self-publishing is more convenient and affordable than anytime before. The only challenge with self-publishing is that you have to manage your whole work and sustain a reasonable amount of money to hire a freelancer if you don’t make it in all the tasks required.
According to Statista.com, Number of self-published books in the United States from 2008-2016 in 2016, there was a total of almost 787 thousand print and e-books published in this manner in the U.S., out of which 638.6 thousand were print books and 148.3 thousand were e-books.
This leaves us questioning the complex possibilities that can happen in the very near future of the publishing industry. In the meantime, it is quite clear that the upper hand is no longer for the publishers, and authors seem to be seizing the opportunity of technology very well. Will this be the case in future?