Center for Publishing

The Role of the Literary Agent

The publication life-cycle of a book can be a long, many-layered series of events. From the germination of an idea in a writer¿s head through a book¿s final appearance on the shelves (physical or digital) and beyond, an extraordinary number of things need to fall into place in order for a book¿s publication to be a success. From the first time a literary agent reads a query through signing the author, to working on first revisions, submitting the final manuscript to a well-thought-out list of editors, and on to offers, contracts, subsidiary rights and intellectual property decisions, through analyses of royalty statements¿ the literary agent plays a vital role in an author¿s success. This course provides a complete introduction for those students considering a career as a literary agent, as well as insights for those who will be working with agents from inside a publishing house. Where and how do agents find clients and how do they nurture them and their proposals or manuscripts? How do agents cultivate relationships with editors and match clients with those editors? How do they negotiate the best deals possible for their clients while understanding the needs of the publisher? Students will study the full life-cycle of publication, and leave with a greater understanding of the industry and a better sense of whether life as a literary agent is the right one for him or her. As the publishing landscape continues to evolve, students will learn about the agent¿s role in new publishing models (indie publishing, straight-to-e-book deals, subscription models, profit shares, collaborations, and the greater roles production and audio have taken in the past several years) as well as the traditional route, and how an agent may retain worth in this ever-changing industry. Guest speakers will include an agent who is an expert on contracts, and an author discussing the unique interdependence among writer, agent, and publisher.
Course Number
Associated Degrees