Do literary agents cost money? If so, what should you expect? If not, how do they earn a living? Either way, are literary agents worth it? Find the answers here.
When I think of people who work in publishing—whether it's editors, booksellers, and especially writers—I think of people who are passionate about what they do and who work super hard. That is also true of literary agents. For the most part, writers don't get paid until they write. And reputable literary agents don't get paid until they sell the work of their clients.
In this post, we're going to look at how much literary agents cost, when writers pay them, and whether literary agents are "worth it."
During this March 2020 boot camp, literary agents will show you how to put together the best query letter, opening pages, and synopsis to hook the attention of Agents and Editors. As you learn what makes up an amazing submission package, 4 literary agents from Corvisiero Literary will tell you what agents look for when reviewing your work. They will help you draft and perfect your query letter, your book synopsis, and the first five pages of your book.
Do Literary Agents Cost Money?
Literary agents do cost money, but the good news is that reputable literary agents do not charge any upfront fees. They work on commission, which means they don't cost any money until they actually earn their clients—the writers they represent—money.
While there are a few exceptions, the most common commission for a literary agent is 15%. If an agent places a book with a publisher and negotiates a $25,000 advance, that agent will take out their 15% (or $3,750) and send the rest (or $21,250) to their client.
Some agents have been known to charge other small fees, but these fees—if they're present in your agent contract—are also typically deducted after a sale.
Agents may charge 20% or 25% commission for the sale of rights in markets that require another agent. For instance, some agents have to pair up with another agent or agency to sell foreign or film rights.
Are Literary Agents Worth It?
Literary agents work to place a writer's work, be a career advocate, negotiate favorable contracts, and handle a lot of the business side of publishing so writers can focus on their writing—and other pursuits. And they only receive payment when they've actually earned their clients some money. So are they worth it?
I guess only each writer can answer that question. There are some writers who prefer to do it all themselves. There are some writers who prefer lawyers to handle their contracts. So there's not a 100% consensus on whether agents are "worth it." But for my money, I can't imagine another professional who puts so much on the line for the potential of a project other than writers themselves.