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Helping you find a career as a Literary agent

A literary agent promotes an author and their work to publishers, directors, theatre managers, radio, film and television producers.

The literary agent supports the author by handling their finances whilst they focus on their writing. This could involve approaching publishers on their behalf, securing book deals and commissioning work for them. Agents take a percentage of the profits from the book sales and build up contacts in the industry.


What does a Literary agent do?
A typical day for a Literary Agent will involve:
  • Answering email enquiries

  • Reading through manuscripts

  • Deciding which authors to represent

  • Offering editing suggestions to authors

  • Approaching publishers on behalf of the authors you represent

  • Securing authors commissions for further work

  • Promoting an author and their work

  • Sourcing new talent

  • Negotiating deals with publishing editors on behalf of the author

  • Liaising between the author and publisher

  • Maintaining good relationship with media and art representatives

  • Building up contacts within the media industry

  • Keeping up to date with developments in publishing

  • Working with overseas publishers on translation editions

  • Negotiating your contract with an author

  • Attending book launches and fair
Skills & interests required for a Literary agent
  • Excellent communication skills

  • Ability to negotiate terms

  • Confident

  • Good eye for originality

  • Persistence

  • Good organisational skills

  • Ability to work well under pressure

  • Ability to network and build contacts

  • Ability to make decisions that best support the author

  • Meeting writers

  • Ability to deal with difficult situations (such as turning down manuscripts)
What hours does a Literary agent typically do?
Literary agents tend to work between 35 - 40 hours per week. You may need to do additional reading outside of working hours.
What environment is a Literary agent based in?
An office or from home.
How much does a Literary agent travel?
You may be required to travel to meet clients and publishers outside the office. Attending book events and fairs will also require travelling.
How much does a Literary agent get paid?
A literary agent usually earns upwards of £15,000 per annum.

An experienced agent can earn between £20,000 and £30,000 per annum. They also earn commissions between 10% - 15% of book sales in the UK on top of their regular salary.

The salary of freelance literary agents varies depending on location and amount of work.
Perks & benefits
You could get to work with your favourite genre of literature and maybe even find the next genre defining bestseller!
What qualifications does a Literary agent need?
There are no minimum requirements for becoming a literary agent.

Most literary agents have a background in publishing. However, you must have a love for reading – if you intend on becoming an agent then set yourself a weekly reading target. You need to demonstrate an interest in books and the publishing industry.

Training will happen on the job and it is important that you build up your contacts and expand your network.