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Literary Agents UK List

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Seeking representation? The seven things you need to know

Their primary role is to sell your manuscript to a publisher. In essence, they're salesmen or (more often) saleswomen. In addition, though, they offer a certain amount of editorial help, arrange for the sale of your manuscript abroad, help with the sale of any film or TV rights, act as a buffer between you and your publisher, and oversee the publication process. (See here for more info.).

Agents get paid on commission only - so, typically, they will collect 15% of any money they make on your behalf (or 20% for overseas sales and TV/film rights.) That means you pay nothing upfront. Nearly all professional authors believe they get excellent value for their money.
Needless to say, however, agents won't invest time in manuscripts that aren't saleable, so they will only pick the best of the best. As a rough rule of thumb, they'll take about 1 in 1000 of the manuscripts that come their way, so do make sure that your work is strong enough before you submit it. We also have tools to help you refine your search by genre, etc, so you can ensure your work reaches the people who most want to read it. And do check our advice for using those tools in the most effective way.
In a nutshell: wonderful, saleable manuscripts. At this stage, however, all you typically need to submit is (a) your first three chapters, (b) a synopsis, and (c) a covering letter introducing yourself and your book. (Check our search listings for detail on specific individual preferences.) Assuming that your initial submission package is strong enough, you'll be asked to supply a complete manuscript.
If you want to meet the industry face to face, you can do that at a variety of festivals, courses and seminars. Festivals to think about include the Writers' Workshop Festival of Writing, the Winchester Writers Conference and specialist forums such as the Romantic Novelist Association annual conference. Using our database before meeting people face to face means that you will be superbly primed on likes, dislikes, submission requirements and much more.
All agencies will be capable of handling overseas sales and film/TV sales. Some will do those things in-house. Others will outsource the work to suitable specialists. Either way, you'll be in good hands.
These days, you can of course do just that. There are plenty of successful e-pubbers and self-pubbers, so it is a viable path, especially for genre fiction and especially when priced very competitively. But if you want a regular publisher and a strong retail presence in actual physical bookstores, then be aware that (a) very few large publishers accept submissions except via literary agents and (b) no large retailer makes significant shelf-space available to self-published authors. It's also much harder for self-pub authors to secure meaningful foreign language sales and/or TV or film contracts.
Need to know more? See our frequently asked questions pages for more. And don't forget that if you subscribe to our database, you will pay nothing if you choose to cancel within 7 days.

 

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