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Once you’ve been writing for a while you may feel inclined to employ a literary agent to help you with selling your work and finding new markets. Before you do this there are a few questions you may like answered:

What exactly does a literary agent do?
An agent will try to find a publisher for your novel. He is also there to negotiate a good contract and payment for you. If film or television rights are a possible avenue, this will be undertaken by the agent and he will endeavour to get a good deal for you regarding royalties. He will also be responsible for collecting monies owed to the writer.

What is the average fee?
Commission will be taken from all monies received – the exact amount will be agreed upon beforehand. In the UK, between ten and fifteen percent is the average, year after year the rate is increasing as it is becoming more difficult to place work.

Will there be a contract?
Yes. No work by the agent will be undertaken until you sign a written formal contract.

Can new writers have literary agents?
If you can find one willing to work with you, then yes. Literary agents are unwilling to work with new writers as they need to have proven themselves as being able to come up with the goods with regards to their writing.

Can I change to a new agent if I’m unhappy with my old one?
Yes you can, however, legally the old agent will still be entitled to a commission on any work that he helped you sell.

Do agents handle short stories, poems etc?
No, there wouldn’t be enough financial reward from short stories, poems and other small works.

To find a reputable literary agent in the UK The Association of Authors’ Agents (the AAA) is an association to which most agents belong. Contact: c/o Sheil Land Associates Ltd 43 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LF.