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The Role of a Literary Agent

The role of a literary agent

Literary agents support and advocate for authors in all aspects of their writing careers.

The four key aspects of a literary agent’s role include:


Ensuring the best possible publication terms


Defending authors’ rights and interests


Supporting creative and professional development


Promoting authors’ works in domestic and global markets

What does a literary agent do?

Sell the book

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Sell the book

Literary agents network with editors to sell authors' books. They negotiate contracts to ensure the best possible publishing terms and license creative rights across formats and markets.

Promote authors’ books

Promote authors’ books

Literary agents closely follow book market trends and consult on social media, marketing, and publicity before, during, and after publication to position their authors' books for success.

Solve problems and forge ahead

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Solve problems and forge ahead

Literary agents manage, solve, and mitigate problems of all kinds — from contracts to marketing, they liaise with publishers across departments to champion the author and ensure everything goes smoothly.

What does a literary agent do?


Manage and organise

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Manage and organise

Literary agents manage and organise several responsibilities for and on behalf of authors. This includes developing new book ideas to support authors' creative development with editing, encouragement, and guidance.

Support authors post-publication

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Support authors post-publication

Literary agents continue to promote their authors' books and negotiate subsidiary rights and global market sales. They also ensure payments (advances and royalties) correctly reach their authors.

How can I become a literary agent?

You don’t need to come from a specific background or have a degree to become a literary agent. What you need is a desire to support your authors and an ability to connect with publishers and authors alike.

While there are no set entry requirements to become a literary agent, there are several transferable skills from other industries you could employ as a literary agent.

Working in a bookshop, at literary festivals and libraries, or even being part of a writing group and critiquing manuscripts, are all considered valuable relevant experiences when moving into literary agenting.

key skills for a literary agents



Analytical and organised

Attention to detail

Negotiation and persuasion

Industry relationships and networking


Determination and resilience

Entrepreneurial spirit

Independent yet a team player

Awareness of book market trends

Knowing what makes a good book

Our current member agencies include literary agents from all walks of life — no matter your background or your past experience, there’s space for everyone in agenting.

Please note that the AAA is not able to offer advice on finding representation by an agent or getting published.

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