Friday, April 3, 2009

A Career As A Literary Agent by Tony Jacowski

Contemporary authors look for a literary agent can provide them with significant guidance related to publishing. They need a person who will not only be their representative, but will also fortify a long-lasting career.

This might sound like a luxury, but it is difficult these days to grab the attention of a literary agent. However, it is this very theory where the key of being a successful literary agent lies. A successful literary agent always responds to the needs of writers. Many writers leave their agents because of the lack of attention they receive.

Apart from paying the required attention to an author, a literary agent has other jobs to do as well. They first have to deal with proposals and to decide which author they should represent. A literary agent also offers editorial and career advice to authors.

An agent also has to manage intellectual property rights. The literary agent sends out manuscripts and proposals for consideration. It is the job of literary agent to negotiate deals with a producer/publisher on the behalf of an author. They also have to keep the producers updated on the works of the author.

An important part of a literary agent's job is to build up contacts within the industry.

Earnings and Eligibility

Commission for a literary agent can be 10% to 20% of the author's total earnings. A literary agent's work is mostly office-based, but he also has to be out and about to meet people and secure opportunities. A nice way to create new contacts is to attend receptions, openings, and trade exhibitions.

Literary agents are expected to have good communication skills as well as business acumen. Graduates can opt to be literary agents. Such people also gain experience as rights managers, personal relations officers for sales, subscription rights or as commissioning agents.

A literary agent can work in large and structured agencies, in mid-sized firms or as an independent contractor. Some agencies represent estates - families of deceased authors. Agencies may also have foreign rights.

Agents can specialize in a particular genre or writing style, or simply writing in general.

A Day in the Life

A typical day for a literary agent from a mid-sized firm would start off with dealing with foreign publishers and drawing up contracts with them. This is because of the time difference between the two parties. Later, they review correspondence from local publishers that were sent in the mail.

Literary agents usually go to lunch with the editors of publishing houses, so that they can sell manuscripts. It is usually the editors who take the agents out for lunch, and it is usually at the end of the main course that the sales pitch is made. Until then, they might make small talk or discuss various projects.

After returning to office they make calls to or attend to calls from writers and negotiate with publishers. It usually takes editors some time to evaluate a project. If a certain book seems to be perfect match for a particular publishing house then an exclusive offer is made. Once an offer is made, the process often proceeds rather quickly.

The evening is usually spent attending book parties. In the absence of parties, evenings are used to read scripts. The weekends might also be consumed with reading manuscripts.

If you like people, have a knack for writing and can sell, then a career as a literary agent can be both lucrative and personally rewarding.

Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for six sigma professionals including, lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.