Friday, August 3, 2012

What is a Book Agent and Why You May Need One?

Most self-published authors, especially those seeking to break into the mainstream publishing industry, are going to need the help of a literary agent at one point. A literary agent's scope of work can vary according to their individual specialty. Hence, the importance of setting reasonable expectations about what a literary agent can do for them. It is important to understand what they can and can't do, to help avoid any frustration and build a foundation for a strong business partnership crucial to publishing success. Below is a list of the things you should not expect your agent to do for you.

Agents Do Not Review Books for a Living - Agents don’t charge for reading or evaluating material. If they do this, they are not members of the Association of Author’s Representative. Run the other way! Partner instead with agents that adhere to industry standards and ethics.

Not Your Publicist - Publishers have greatly reduced the amount of money spent on author tours and other publicity efforts. Some authors believe that agents should take up this slack, but agents represent your work to the publishing industry not to the public. Hire a publicist for help with that.

Your Agent is Not Your Lawyer - Agents may be very savvy about contracts but unless they are a contract lawyer and offer legal services then they are not your lawyer. Some book contracts involve a lot of money. It doesn’t hurt to get your own lawyer on board when your agent presents you with a contract from a publishing house.

Your Agent is Not Your Therapist -There may be times when an author's personal affairs may encroach on a literary agent's professional engagement. But at no circumstances should this hinder the professional relationship best kept for the duration of that engagement.

Not Your Co-Author - Some authors have a good idea for a book and feel that it will sell well. They contact agents with the idea that the agent will help them write the book. Here's the real scoop. Write your book, then contact agents. The only exception is non-fiction. In this case, write a detailed proposal and then contact agents.

Not Your Editor - Some agents take a highly editorial role with their clients, many do not. Don't expect editorial feedback from your agent unless this is her passion. In all cases, no agent can move your substandard work up to a professional level, so go in with the best work.

Not Your Chew Toy - Writers invest lots of themselves in their books. This sometimes leads to highly charged conversations and a hellish work environment for agents. Don't treat your agent like a chew toy. Step back from the drama and treat your agent with professional respect. Remember, he is there to help you.

So who is your agent? Simple, your sales partner! Your agent will sell your book. They will get you a better advance. They will insure your book connects with the best publisher to showcase your work.

For more writing tips, head over to the iUniverse Writers Tips and learn from the experience of iUniverse Author Focus.


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