What is the literary agent’s role when you’re writing a book?
‘And it does no harm to repeat, as often as you can, ‘Without me the literary industry would not exist; the publishers, the agents, the sub-agents, the sub-sub-agents, the accountants, the libel lawyers, the department of literature, the professor, the theses, the book of criticism, the reviewers, the book pages.’ ~Doris Lessing
You do not need an agent. However, it would be nice if you could get one. Agents are an author’s guide to the book-publishing world.
Agents negotiate deals for authors. Agents know the market and they have contacts. They often help an author with practical input. Agents take care of their business while you take care of yours, which is writing.
However, most authors have misconceptions about the role of an agent and it helps to remember these points.
The Literary Agent’s Role
An agent does not:
- Teach people how to write
- Act as an editor
- Ask for a reading fee
- Serve as a publicist
- Play the role of secretary
- Act as a lawyer
- Solve an author’s personal problems
- Sell work that is not good enough
- Lend money
Reading fees. Are they a rip off?
If literary agents offer them, beware. Most professional agents would never offer to read, edit or appraise your work for a fee.
If you want an appraisal or an edit, you should choose an institution or agency who offers these specialised services. These institutions employ experts with no hidden agendas to read the manuscripts. Writers Write has a manuscript appraisal service. Email email@example.com for more information.
Agents or Publishers?
Most publishers do not accept unsolicited manuscripts or submissions from un-agented authors. They do not have the time or manpower to wade through thousands of manuscripts. You CAN get an agent if your work has merit. Persevere. Target the correct agency for your novel.
How do you get an agent to represent you? The best way to do this is to write a killer query letter and a synopsis that sizzles. A synopsis is a sales pitch for your book.
Seven Tips for Writing a Sizzling Synopsis
1. Hook the reader with the inciting moment.
2. Tell us how she intends to solve the crisis.
3. Give us her details, briefly – age, occupation etc.
4. Tell the story.
5. Keep to main story points.
6. Motivation and emotion are all important here.
7. Editors and readers like human drama – It sells.
If you want to find publishers or literary agents in South Africa, please contact PASA, The Publisher’s Association of South Africa – 0217629083 – and look for publishers there. You will find a list of publishers here
Source for Image
© Amanda Patterson