Literary Agents

Literary Agent Listens to an Author's Pitch

Literary agents, also known as authors’ representatives, serve as intermediaries between writers and potential employers such as publishers and television producers. Agents also represent actors, artists, athletes, musicians, politicians, and other public figures who may seek to undertake writing endeavors. In essence, agents sell a product: their clients' creative talent. In addition to finding work for their clients, agents also may negotiate contracts, pursue publicity, and advise clients in their careers. The majority of literary agents work in New York and Los Angeles, and many others work in San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami. There are approximately 13,230 agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes in the United States. Literary agents make up a small percentage of this group.

The Association of Authors' Representatives defines literary agents as those who only represent book authors; it says that agents who represent writers who craft stage plays, screenplays, television material, and musicals are known as dramatic agents. For the purposes of this article, literary agents are those who work with all types of writers.

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Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Authors’ Representatives, Dramatic Agents
Duties Represent the professional interests of writers; help sell writers’ work to publishing companies and other organizations
Salary Range Below $25,000 to $100,000+
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities are available throughout the country, but are best in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other cities where publishing companies are headquartered
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
School Subjects
  • Business
  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Speech
Experience Internship; experience as an assistant
Personality Traits
  • Creative
  • Enterprising
  • Realistic
  • Business Management
  • Interpersonal
  • Writing
Certification or Licensing None
Special Requirements None
Employment Prospects Fair
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Little Change or More Slowly than the Average
Career Ladder
  • Agency Owner
  • Literary Agent
  • Subagent
  • Office Worker