The Evolving Role of the Literary Agent

Writer's Digest (October 2014)

Writer’s Digest (October 2014)

In the most recent issue of Writer’s Digest magazine, you’ll find my feature article, “The Evolving Agent.” I discuss how literary agents’ business models and services are changing to fit the needs of their clients, who are increasingly self-publishing or choosing hybrid paths.

The article covers:

  • the value of agent-assisted self-publishing
  • what happens when agents use third parties to assist you (e.g., Argo Navis or Amazon White Glove)
  • specific agencies that assist with self-publishing and what their terms are
  • what questions to ask an agent before having them assist with self-publishing

Regarding that last point, here are a few of those questions to ask:

  • Who covers the costs associated with self-publishing? In most cases, the author covers the cost, but sometimes the agent will cover expenses and deduct them from the author’s earnings.
  • Who controls the rights to the self-published work? (It should be the author.)
  • How long must you commit to giving the agent 15 percent of sales on the work? (It shouldn’t be indefinitely.)
  • How/when can the agreement be terminated?

To read the full article, buy the October 2014 issue of Writer’s Digest, available in print or as a digital download.

For additional context, I also highly recommend reading:

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Posted in Getting Published, Publishing Industry.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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