traditional publishing

Literary Agents 101

Navigating the publishing world can be difficult, but in this wonderful age of the internet, all the information you need for traditional publishing is available. It is just a matter of finding it. So here is a quick post about what literary agents are and why they are used.

While they are not required for traditional publishing, good literary agents help advocate for authors and land them book deals with bigger publishing companies. In fact, most large publishing companies do not accept queries or manuscripts from authors unless they have a literary agent.

You do not pay literary agents any money (if one is asking you for money, it is a scam). Instead, literary agents take a percentage of your profits/book deal. In theory, because of the connections literary agents have, you should land a bigger book deal than on your own, so this is mutually beneficial.

In addition to finding a publisher, many literary agents help you get connected with editors and other resources you need when you have a finished manuscript.

When do you need a literary agent? After finishing the whole manuscript for your novel AND editing it to the best of your ability. This includes multiple rounds of edits and feedback from beta readers.

The best, most reliable way to get a literary agent is to pitch your novel to them at a writing conference. However, especially with COVID, most writers also query agents. Querying agents is the process of emailing (or submitting forms online– depending on what the agent prefers) literary agents to get them to take on your manuscript. Querying is a detailed process, so over the next couple of weeks, I’ll have blog posts breaking down specifics. But the main thing to remember is that querying an agent means asking them to take on your novel and sell it to publishers.

So what questions do you have about literary agents or publishing? Do you think you’ll ever use a literary agent?

God bless,


5 thoughts on “Literary Agents 101”

  1. Thank you for this informative post! I’ve read up about literary agents before, but this was a great reminder for me. 🙂 I don’t have any specific questions at this point, but I’m sure I’ll learn something new from you here.

    At this point, I’m not certain if I will be querying agents. My previously generally positive impression of traditional publishers have been mostly shattered in the past half a decade or so, and especially in the past year. I’ve gathered from following traditionally published authors whose work I’ve admired that, many times, the publishing houses are not doing what I would consider to be enough as an author to promote their books. And also, considering the fact that when an author lands a contract, it usually results in selling their copyright to their book (my “usually” here is NOT statistical, purely my personal observations and from what I’ve read from authors’ experiences), and I do not I like that idea as a writer. Especially for cases in which the book does not sell well and due to the (author’s lack of) copyright ownership, the author themselves cannot continue/finish their series as they and their audience may so desire.

    I’ve also learned that depending on one’s book/subject material, the publishing houses may not be able to or may not want to or may not know how to market one’s book properly or in some way reach the (niche or general) audience.

    I do realize that independent publishing requires a LOT of work. The author cannot only worry about the writing part, but also marketing and editing and publication. But due to the liberty that the author would have in this path, I think it would fit me and my priorities better.

    However, depending on my life circumstances/experiences/opportunities and how that affects my ability to find/hear about literary agent/s that may well suit my needs, my mind can change regarding this. I still do think it’s important to realize and learn about all the processes that can be involved in becoming a published author. So I’m certainly looking forward to the rest of this series, Gabrielle! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You bring up good point, CC. Maybe you’d be willing to do a guest post on the benefits of self publishing at the end of this series? I haven’t done as much research into self publishing as you have.

      Also, thank you so much for the edits! I really appreciate it, and I’ll definitely take you up on the offer to proof read!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I haven’t written anything comprehensive about this, and I feel a bit apprehensive because I’ve never written anything about writing/publishing before. But since you’re asking, and since I like (and sometimes don’t like, but I do it anyway because I know I need the push) try to challenge myself, I’ll see if I can come up with something worthy. Thank you!!

        You’re very welcome!

        (And I usually just go by CC here. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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