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Literary agent

A literary agent promotes authors and their work to various members of the media and arts industries, including, theatre managers, book publishers and radio, television and film producers.

Job description

A literary agent promotes authors and their work to various members of the media and arts industries, including, theatre managers, book publishers and radio, television and film producers. Most literary agents work for agencies. They identify literary talent and work on the behalf of authors to seal book deals and promote their work within the media. Agents will receive a percentage of the profits from book sales. After many years’ experience some agents set up their own agencies. It takes a long time to become established and build up a good network of contacts.

Work activities

  • Identifying potential literary talent.
  • Reading manuscripts and deciding if an author’s work can be sold.
  • Selling proposals and negotiating deals with publishing editors on the behalf of an author.
  • Serve as the main point of contact for correspondence between authors and publishers, managers and producers.
  • Establishing new contacts and maintaining a network of media and arts representatives.
  • Keeping up to date with developments and the evolving nature of the publishing industry and media.

Work conditions

Travel: can feature when liaising with clients, publishers and producers
Working hours: can be irregular and long; agents may have to network at evenings and weekends.
Location: There are few literary agencies based in Ireland. Most are found in Dublin/Belfast.

Entry requirements

A degree in any discipline can provide a route into the industry. The literary scene is highly competitive making any experience valuable – particularly in publishing. Building up a network of contacts is key for career development.