Next in our series covering careers in writing, we look at the work of a Literary Agent.
What do they do?
A few things:
- Discover new authors.
- Provide editorial feedback and help authors to polish their work before submitting to publishers.
- Pitch books to publishers, negotiate fees, process all the legal work.
- Provide on-going support to authors and act as the liaison between author and publisher.
Who would you work for?
A literary agency, rather than a publishing firm.
Are there actually any jobs in this sector?
Yes, but you will have to start out as an assistant (£17,500- £20,000 June 2015) and work your way up. This could take 3-4 years and there’s no guarantee you will get to be an agent.
A degree in English or other humanities subject. Must like books (!) as you’ve got to be a fast reader and able to evaluate texts, but you also need to be able to work in a fast-paced commercial environment. Attention to detail, the ability to multitask and excellent interpersonal skills for dealing with both authors and publishers. Legal skills aren’t necessary as you’ll get trained on how to work on contracts.
Tips for getting in?
Get work experience! Follow individual agents and agencies on twitter and volunteer to help out at a book fair. Try and get an internship supporting an assistant agent, this will give you a great sense of the role from book launches to contract work.
Read relevant publications like The Bookseller (available in Careers) and twitter to find out what’s going on in the sector and demonstrate commercial awareness.
Careers in writing blog: