The concept of a literary agent is often a mystery to those not intimate with the field of publishing. Their function is obscured, and many writers even are uncertain of their purpose. However, since their inception in the 19th century, they have come to play an integral part of the book publishing game and are depended on by authors and publishers alike for their services.
According to the Association of Author's Representatives, "literary . . . agents are engaged in the marketing of rights to literary properties."
[...] It was determined that some kind of unionization was needed in order to understand the situation and to speak to publishers in a single voice (Feather 175). A number of organizations, namely the Guild of Literature and Art est the Association to Protect the Rights of Authors est.1875, and the Society of Authors est attempted to do this, but it was the rise of literary agents that made real progress in this area (West 78). The earliest manifestations of agents appeared in England in the 1840s. [...]
[...] Lamay, and Edward C. Pease. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers Coser, Lewis A., Charles Kadushin, and Walter W. Powell. Books: The Culture and Commerce of Publishing. New York: Basic Books, Inc Curtis, Richard. Beyond the Bestseller: A Literary Agent Takes You Inside the Book Business. New York: NAL Books This Business of Publishing: An Insider's View of Current Trends and Tactics. New York: Allworth Press Feather, John. A History of British Publishing. New York: Routledge Larsen, Michael. Literary Agents: What They [...]
[...] There are many types of literary agents at work in the publishing marketplace, and any author with talent can likely find one to suit his needs and help him navigate the tricky waters of the publishing world. For their part, publishers are happy to have many of the more mundane tasks and annoyances of working with authors removed from their business. The agent is an important intermediary in a commercial driven industry, and one that has continually shown its ability to change and adapt according to that industry's needs. [...]
[...] Since agents moved around in literary circles, they had dozens of contacts on which they could call, and generally knew who was looking for what (West 92). Finally, they could examine royalty statements for hidden clauses or errors, deal with the inefficient bureaucracy of large publishing houses, and act as money-holders to authors by taking royalties and advancing the author money (West 100). These services made them invaluable to writers and publishers alike, and ensured their continued presence in the literary marketplace. [...]
[...] Many agents are former editors who have left publishing houses because they did not get time to do what editors are supposed to do: read, evaluate, and improve manuscripts (Perkins 15). As house editors continue to become more and more swamped with the business side of things, selling manuscripts to the marketing department for example, they will come to depend more and more on the evaluative skills of agents to determine the quality of manuscripts. Eventually, editors may merely look at a description of the book, determine if it suits their house's current profile, read the first few pages and then say yes or no. [...]
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