A literary agent negotiates between authors and those who produce the work of the author. These people would consist of book publishers, radio,television and film producers, and theater managers.
Typical tasks include:
- dealing with proposals and reading manuscripts to decide which authors to represent
- offering editorial advice to authors
- advising authors on career strategy
- managing intellectual property rights
- negotiating deals with producers on the authors’ behalf
- sending out proposals and manuscripts for consideration
- building up contacts throughout the industry
- updating producers about authors’ work
Literary agents make their living by earning a commission, usually 10% to 20% of the authors’ earnings. Since the agent relies on their commission, they only sign authors that they think can get book deals and sell books. Literary agents are largely office-based, but also need to be out and about making contacts and attending openings, receptions and trade exhibitions. Communication and negotiating skills are essential, as well as business acumen.
Apart from paying the required attention to an author, a literary agent has other jobs to do as well. They first have to deal with proposals and to decide which author they should represent. A literary agent also offers editorial and career advice to authors.
An agent also has to manage intellectual property rights. The literary agent sends out manuscripts and proposals for consideration. It is the job of literary agent to negotiate deals with the publisher on the behalf of an author.
For the most part, agents work in Manhattan. This is because the major publishers are housed in New York. In order to do their job well, the agent needs access to the editors at all times.
Beyond reading material and identifying potential literary talent, agents really need to understand the publishing business. They need to know the right people at the right houses in order to make deals as well as the houses themselves. If an agent has a great manuscript, that agent needs to know what editor is going to be right to publish it. For works that attract multiple editors, auctions are often arranged so editors can bid on a work. Auctions often result in higher advances.
Clay Aikens literary agent is David Vigliano. According to his web-site:
Vigliano Associates is the preeminent boutique literary agency in publishing. The agency has represented eight #1 New York Times best sellers, with over 50 books hitting the Times list since 2000.
The agency claims to be the foremost agency in the industry at representing celebrity books. Some of their most famous clients are:
- David Blaine, Magician
- Alicia Keys, Grammy winner
- Shaquille O’Neal, NBA Superstar
- Walter Payton, NFL Hall of Famer
- Willie Nelson, Country musician
- Jenny McCarthy, Actress
The agency also represents Robert James Waller, the author of Bridges of Madison County and Rocco DiSpirito’s cookbooks.
Clay Aiken always surprises us with his many exciting undertakings. It will be interesting to watch this new project grow and become a successful enterprise.