The Surprising Truth About Literary Agents
Posted On: 2015-01-21
by: Bill Platt

January
21st, 2015
Earlier this week, I released a product called "Deconstructing a Best Seller from a Debut Author" that described how one particular author was able to move her debut book from nowhere to the top of Amazon, before her book was even released to the public.

As a writer who is well-versed in marketing, I considered the author's rise to the top to be absolutely fascinating.

I was able to demonstrate the four steps that this previously unpublished author had used to go from nowhere to best-seller status, while her book was still in pre-release:

1. Write a great book;
2. Hire an agent;
3. Get published as an Amazon Imprint;
4. Be selected as a Kindle First author.

My approach on the product was to reverse-engineer how one author was able to get her book to #1 in Amazon, prior to the release of her book, and to show others how they could do the same.

A couple of people were upset, because they saw #2 as something that they could not do, so therefore #3 and #4 was also out of their reach.

One guy actually told me, "Bill, I cannot afford to hire an agent."

Earlier this week, I was having a conversation with another person about something in my personal life. I shared my point of view on the situation, and after meeting some resistance, I had to laugh at the feedback I received.

I finally concluded that I just think differently than most people.

Not that this is a bad thing. Seeing things from a different point of view can often times be a good thing - unless I am talking to my wife, and then I am always wrong.

When two people had told me that they could not afford to hire a literary agent, I knew that I must be missing something.

Alert: Reputable literary agents rarely charge upfront fees.

Literary agents worth hiring typically make their money as a percentage of the royalties that will be generated from the sale of your books!

According to the AgentQuery.com website, some reputable agents are charging a fee of $200 to $500 to cover the costs of printing manuscripts and postal fees, but they are the exception rather than the rule.

Those who do charge fees of this type typically include the language concerning "upfront reimbursement of expenses" as a clause in the contract they will ask you to sign, before taking on the task of representing your book. And they will never charge you additional fees without your knowledge.

Agencies that include this language in their contracts will not always charge the actual fee to the writer, and some will take it from the royalties generated from the book.

The bottom line is that reputable literary agents might charge some upfront fees, but they will never charge you that money unless and until you get to the point of writing a contract with them.

The advantages to hiring legitimate literary agents is that they know the trade and handle a number of important business issues for their clients such as:

Negotiating publishing contracts;
Tracking advances and royalties;
Selling foreign rights;
Brokering book-to-film deals; and
Managing all other copyright permissions.

Good literary agents are generally worth every penny they collect from your book royalties.
Scammers are more easily identified by the things they charge for, in advance of representing your books.

If the literary agent or agency you contact (or one who contacts you out of the blue) requires that you pay in advance for the following items, run far away:

Submission fees;
Reading fees;
Editing fees;
Proofreading fees;
Marketing fees;
Etc.

Which brings me back to the purpose of this article today...

If you cannot afford to present your book to a literary agent, to represent your book to print publishers, then you are talking to the wrong people!

If your agent wants large sums of money from you, prior to them representing your book, then you are talking to someone who is looking for the proverbial "sucker born every minute."

Yes, you can afford to hire an agent to represent your book, IF you are talking to the right person for the job.

Qualified and honest agents/agencies tend to charge 10% to 15% of the royalties earned for books published domestically and up to 20% of the royalties earned for books published internationally.

If you are serious about hiring a literary agent to represent your book to print publishers, a good place to start is the AgentQuery.com website where you can search the available agents for someone who represents books in your genre.

Bill Platt has been working with writers and book authors since 2001, helping them to learn how to create better products and sell their written works. You can find his "Deconstructing a Best Seller from a Debut Author" product here, on his FictionPlots.com website.