What Are Literary Agents?

Professional sports players have agents, models and movie stars have agents. Even people looking to sell their home enlist the aid of an agent so it makes sense that authors will have someone to help them market their stories as well. For authors, a literary agent is often the best way to get their book published on a larger scale. To better understand how a literary agent can help with publishing, let’s take a deeper look into what a literary agent actually is.

The Definition of A Literary Agent?

In short, a literary agent is a person who will read a manuscript or book and then sign on the author if they feel that the book is marketable. While this may seem like a straightforward job, literary agents are paid a portion of the book sales and tend to be very selective of which clients they choose to represent. They work on pitching their client’s books to publishers and helping to negotiate attractive contracts with publishers for the benefit of the client, the book’s author.

What Do Literary Agents Do?

Once a literary agent takes on a client, the writer, they become their representative. Writers are selected in a variety of ways ranging from networking at literary events to direct submissions from aspiring authors themselves. After securing a contract to represent an author, they will then work with them to prepare their manuscript and create query letters that can be sent to publishing houses to pitch their material. Each agent will generally stick to a small range of genres which allows them to better serve the authors they represent.

Why Are Literary Agents Important For Publishing?

Writing a book takes a specific amount of skill, marketing that book to publishers takes a completely different set of skills. A literary agent has the skills and the industry knowledge that allows them to get manuscripts in the hands of people who have the power to launch writers’ careers. They also have a long history in the field and have been able to develop critical relationships that will help them match publishers and authors that can benefit mutually from a business relationship. A good agent can even generate enough interest in a manuscript that it goes to auction. During auctions, multiple editors can bid and therefore drive up the price, or advance that an author will receive for their manuscript.

A literary agent is critical in helping authors not only getting picked up by a publishing house but also ensuring they get fair contracts. Book contracts are extremely complex and cover a range of points such as royalties, payment types, amounts, percentages, and even their rights to their work. An agent will be able to guide and negotiate the best terms on behalf of the author.

Do You Have To Hire a Literary Agent?

It is possible to get published without the help of a literary agent, but the likelihood is extremely low. Authors can always self-publish on Amazon but in most cases, this is very expensive or only available on a smaller scale. A literary agent is a great way to get access to otherwise inaccessible editors and also help provide invaluable guidance in what can be an utterly confusing process. So, while you may want to avoid the hassle of finding an agent to represent you, it is worth the effort and ultimately may be the best and most expedient path to getting published. For those interested in becoming a literary agent, it is a great way to generate and income while helping upcoming authors realize their publishing dreams.

Do you need proofreading services?

If you’re anything like most people, you’ll have agonized over an important piece of writing at least once in your life — repeatedly questioning how to start your sentences, whether to choose “find” or “discover”, and wondering whether to write “oversaturated” or “over-saturated”. After reviewing your text approximately two million and ninety-five times, you’d think, all the typos, unforgivable spelling errors, and inconsistencies would be gone almost by default, no?

That’s not how it works. After a while, as you grow increasingly fatigued and bored of the text, your brain will inevitably start to see what you intended to write — rather than what you actually did. 

Hiring a professional proofreader is an integral part of your writing process for this very reason, whether you’ve penned a novel that’s already gone through developmental editing or writing an important white paper for your company. How exactly do you go about finding proofreading services and hiring a professional proofreader, though, and what do proofreaders actually do?

What Can Proofreaders Do?

Proofreading is the last stage in the editorial process. In some cases, like short blog posts or resume writing, it may be the only one. Other texts, like long-form journalism or academic articles, will have gone through meticulous editorial processes that include developmental and line editing before they ever reach a proofreader. Proofreaders will, in that scenario, literally “sweat the small stuff”. Your proofreader can:

  • Catch pesky typos that even the most advanced spellcheck software would never pick up on as they’d technically be correct, as well as more insidious spelling errors. 
  • Discover grammatical errors that everyone before them missed. If you’ve ever heard the unfortunate term “grammar Nazi”, proofreaders embody that concept for a living. 
  • Weed out inconsistencies in your writing. You may say “17.1%” in one place, and “58 percent” in another, for instance, or have inadvertently written both “US” and “U.S.”. A proofreader will make sure that kind of thing never makes it to your published version.
  • Look out for typographical and formatting inconsistencies, extra spacing, and excessive “word echoes”, in which similar words are artlessly used too many times in the same sentence or paragraph. 

Your proofreader will ensure that your writing is consistent with your chosen style guide, if any, and free of these persistent errors. They typically have a degree in a field related to English, such as literature or creative writing, and may also perform other types of editing.

How Can You Find the Right Proofreader?

The skill level you require from a proofreader depends on the type of writing you have done, as well as the length of the text. If you’re writing a fairly important email or personal blog post, for instance, you can probably do your own proofreading. Give yourself enough time to be able to distance yourself from your draft in that case, and you increase your odds of discovering your typos and inconsistencies. More important texts, from policy proposals to white papers, and short stories you are planning to enter into creative writing contests to entire books, call for a professional proofreader. 

You can:

  • Ask any stickler or English-degree holder at your workplace for help with proofreading short texts. 
  • Find independent freelance proofreaders online, through their own websites or dedicated marketplaces. Make sure to check their reviews before you make any hiring decisions, and test their skill with a shorter sample if you are still concerned. 
  • If you’re working on a book, ask industry contacts or developmental editors to recommend proofreaders. Personal connections allow you to narrow your choices down and ensure that you end up working with a professional.

Hiring a professional proofreader for around $10 per 1,000 words has become easier than ever, thanks to dedicated marketplaces on the internet, whether you require a quick once-over for a shorter project or an in-depth proof for a long academic text. The best proofreaders make working together easy and have an array of software choices at their disposal, as well as coming highly recommended.