When someone inquired online as to where to find a low-cost or free reputable literary agent, I had just the right response. Here's what I said.
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Let me set the record straight here. No reputable, honest, and effective literary agent represents an author for free, and no one does it at a "low cost." All legitimate agents charge a flat 15% fee taken from the sale of a book to a publisher made during that agent's contractual lifetime with his or her client/author. The fee is deducted from the advance (if any) and the royalties (also if any) paid by the publisher for as long as the book remains in print. The agent takes 15% for all income generated by the book. That's one of the reasons literary agents are hard to find and even harder to land. Writers don't hire them; they sign writers, albeit an extremely limited number of them. If a writer's work fails to generate sales, the agent can go hungry or terminate that writer's contract with the agent and find another writer whose work is more marketable. In that respect, being an agent is somewhat of a crap shoot. And not at all as easy or capricious as many writers seem to think.
A legitimate agent is like a salesman in that he earns his keep from selling. No sale, no commission. To procure a sale for an author, the represented work must appeal to a publisher. And, of course, the agent must do all the legwork—from the final formatting of the manuscript to getting it into presentable condition, matching the work to the appropriate publisher, negotiating contractual details, securing an advance, reviewing and evaluating the finalized contract, and keeping the lines of communication open between the publisher, the agent, and the author. The agent is also responsible for receiving all payments from the publisher, deducting the fifteen percent agency fee, and forwarding a check for the balance to the author. Read More