So, the part of publishing I’ve worked in is literary agencies. They work within the publishing industries, but they’re not actual publishing houses, ie. they don’t send books to the printer. What they do, in short, is take care of their clients’ (authors) interests within the world of publishing, including editorial work on manuscripts, submission to publishing houses, contract management, management of press and promotion, translation deals, and much more.
Sound confusing? How I like to describe it to people who have never heard of literary agencies is we’re the guardian angels of authors through the process of getting their books published, and beyond.
We help them get their manuscripts up to scratch, then we take those manuscripts and send them out to publishers with a lot of passion and a well-developed sales pitch, once we’ve found an editor in a publishing house which wants to make the book happen, we deal with the intricacies of a contract; negotiating everything from the best possible advances and royalties, to movie, audio and foreign rights, to dates of delivery and publication. Once the deal is done and everyone has a fully signed copy of the contract the process of publishing the book can start. Now the publishing house gets going with their marketing plans, their own editorial work, printing and distributing, and getting the book out to the readers. Agents are quite involved in this process, and tend to be kept up to date with what’s going on and making sure that all is as it should be. Often, they also set up interviews and talks, although this tends to be equally managed by the publishers. Lastly, agents support authors in the months and years after publication, helping and encouraging them with their next books as they continue on their writing journeys.
Publication is a long process, it can take up to two years from when an author finishes their manuscript until it’s up in the shelves, and there are many pitfalls along the way. It can be very useful indeed to be represented by a good agency.