You’re confident your collection of short stories is going to be a bestseller. It’s going to be the next literary sensation. Now, all you have to do is get it published.
Should you hire a literary agent? Do you even know how to get a literary agent? Should you pitch your book on your own? Should you self-publish?
To help you with your decision, here are the pros and cons of hiring a literary agent.
The Advantages of Hiring a Literary Agent
It Costs Nothing
Hiring a literary agent is free.
It won’t cost you a penny to have your work read, reviewed, pitched, or even rejected by any literary agent.
This is because they work on a commission basis. Typically, taking a 15% cut of any advance the publisher gives you.
So you get all the benefits of having a literary agent represent you for no cost at all.
Land Lucrative Book Deals
It’s possible to get published as a new author without the help of literary agents – just like anything in the world is possible.
However, if you want to increase your chances of getting a book deal and topping the New York Times Bestsellers list, hiring a literary agent is your best bet.
Simply because most (if not all) publishers have a policy of not accepting unsolicited manuscripts.
This means, if you don’t have an agent to vouch for your work, the chances that your manuscript will even be read is nil.
Seasoned agents who have established connections, can tap their network of publishing executives to get you the best possible deal for your book..
So having an agent that represents you and your work, is basically step one towards getting published.
Gain a Competitive Edge
The literary and publishing industries are very competitive. Authors are in constant competition with each other, to get their manuscript published first.
To publishing houses, having an agent is equivalent to a stamp of quality. It signals to publishers that your work is worth looking at – simply by having the services of a literary agent.
Depending on their relationship with publishers, a literary agent’s word is enough to get your manuscript reviewed.
Extra Insights on Your Manuscript
Through years of experience reading and pitching manuscripts, veteran literary agents have already developed a gut feel on what publishers are looking for.
Their insight on what publishers want, can help you make strategic and creative changes to turn your book into the next bestseller.
This is especially helpful if you’re writing in an extremely competitive genre like general fiction.
The Disadvantages of Hiring a Literary Agent
It Costs A Lot
So while hiring a literary agent is free, working together with them isn’t.
Literary agents work on a commission basis, which means they get a certain percentage from your earnings.
The general rate is a 15% cut on:
- Any advance payments the publisher gives you
- Sales of your book as long as it’s in circulation
- Sales from books they successfully negotiated — even after they retire
- They also have a cut on royalties on top of all other cuts they have on your income
Risks of Being Scammed
Because most new writers are desperate to get their first publishing deal, there are a lot of risks involved when searching for a literary agent.
Many scam artists try to make a quick buck from these aspiring authors by charging exorbitant fees for non-existing expenses.
This is why you should always do your research. Check online forums and social media groups for feedback and information from other writers.
Do a thorough background check on literary agents you’re looking to hire before acquiring their services.
Long Wait Time
Just as long as it takes to get your manuscript from your computer to see your book published, so does the time it takes to get an agent to actually read them.
In general, a sought-after literally agent will only take on no more than two clients after reading through thousands of manuscripts.
So the submission process takes longer when you choose to seek the help of an agent. It’s because you’re trying to sell your book twice.
The first time would be letting the literary professional review your manuscript. Then, the second time is when the publisher reviews your book.
Writers looking to get their work published has to weigh the pros and cons of hiring a literary agent to represent them.
Because while it’s initially free, you’ll have to pay for 15% commission in the long-term.
As a new writer, you also run the risk of being scammed and taken advantage of financially. As well as getting your time wasted by being given the runaround.
And while a literary agent’s relationship with publishing houses can give you an advantage of getting your work read, it doesn’t guarantee a book deal. Just ask J.K. Rowling.