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Popular Terms for Literary Agents
Literary agents often work with writers from a wide variety of genres. Many literary agents work with screenplay writers in addition to those who publish books in horror, mystery, and romance. Before hiring representation for your book, poems, or screenplay, you will want to learn some of the common terms used in the publishing world.
Treatment – A treatment is an early draft of a movie script. It might only contain key ideas that the movie will explore. In many cases, a treatment does not even contain dialogue. Instead, it just establishes what the movie is about. This gives producers an opportunity to learn about the screenplay quickly to decide whether they are interested.
Graphic novels – Graphic novels are similar to comic books. Graphic novels, however, are usually much longer than the average comic book. This genre has become more popular over the past couple decades. Today, many authors work with illustrators to publish graphic novels that will appeal to adult audiences or children.
Reading fee – New authors often find themselves paying reading fees when they submit their works to competitions. Reading fees are usually collected so that a competition’s winner can receive a prize. The fees might also pay for a literary magazine’s publication costs. Representatives from a literary agency do not usually charge reading fees. Authors also shouldn’t expect to pay these fees when submitting their fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to a magazine’s regular publication instead of a competition held by the publisher.
Literary agents help budding and experienced novelists publish their work. They provide proofreading, copy editing, re-writes, marketing and promotion, and representation for authors looking to get their books on store shelves. Literary agents may delegate each of these responsibilities to other professionals within the company. For instance, an editor is in charge of editing the writing, while a marketing professional is in charge of promotions.
Books can run the gamut from children's stories to horror to fantasy. Some agents specialize in one type of genre or style, such as mystery or romance. Others take on all sorts of projects, from comedy and adventure to screenplays and memoir manuscripts. Literary agents may work on their own to represent clients, or within a large publishing house. Fees vary by agent. It all depends on the length and marketability of the publication. Established agents and publishers may give advances to authors.
Literary agents are often writers themselves who have opened their own business or decide to work for publishing houses. Some act more as brokers, where they receive manuscripts in the mail or via their website, decide which ones to consider, then read each one. If it's a go, they will contact the author for more information. If not, it goes in the rejection pile.
Many literary agents work on commission, receiving a certain percentage for domestic sales, and foreign and subsidiary sales. One agency may charge reading fees, while another may not. Contracts are usually required for a deal to be struck, whether for a screenplay, fiction novel, or historical book.
Authors can learn how they can get published by seeking out literary agents that specialize in what they write about. The internet is a great place to start, as are magazines, newspapers, book stores, and libraries. Many magazines encourage submissions for first-time authors.