Think of a traditional publishing company as a literary investor. They pick the best manuscripts that they think they can make money off of, and then they make an agreement with the author that the publisher will pay to produce, distribute and promote the book for a percentage of the book sales.
Like the financial industry that is referenced in the explanation above, traditional publishers have a specific set of procedures they follow when making an investment on an author’s manuscript.
Most large publishing companies will not work with you unless you have a literary agent. Industry insiders estimate that publishers accept less than 1% of all of the books that are pitched to them. With these kinds of odds, it’s usually best to work with a literary agent who understands how publishing companies think and how to present books in a way that will get your title noticed. There should be no fee to work with a literary agent, but they are highly selective of who they agree to represent because they only get paid when you do. They work on commission.
You can find a literary agent by visiting aaronline.org, the official website for Association of Authors’ Representatives, and clicking on Find an Agent. For the best chance of success, pay attention to their submission preferences before contacting them. For example, literary agents tend to have very specific query letter and book proposal requests.
WritersRelief.com is a service that could help you find the right literary agents to submit your book to.
Considering that a literary agent is supposed to represent your book to traditional publishing companies, what qualities do you think you should look for in a literary agent?