What is a literary agent? On its website, the Association of Scottish Literary Agents sums it
'Literary agents are a vital bridge between writers,
illustrators and publishers. They present submissions on their
clients' behalf to publishers and to other media including film and
TV, broadcast media and electronic platforms, and offer
support and guidance to their clients relating to all their
Literary Agents work on a commission
basis - so they take on only those writers and illustrators for
whom they are confident of securing a publisher's support.
They may offer some editorial
guidance to their clients - but rarely otherwise.'
Not all authors have an agent and some deal direct with the
publisher of their book. Also not all publishers deal direct with
authors. Some of the big publishers (eg Hachette) will only accept book submissions
through literary agents.
Agents often attend the big book trade fairs such as London and Frankfurt where they have their own rights
centres separate from the publishers.