What is a literary agent?
Literary agents exist largely to provide services to authors.
These services include:
assist publishing houses and others in expediting the process of review, publication, and distribution of authors royalties.
Being a publishable author doesn't automatically make someone an expert on modern publishing contracts and practices, especially where television, film, or foreign rights are involved. Many authors prefer to have an agent handle such matters. This prevents the author's working relationship with his publisher from becoming strained by disputes about royalty statements or late checks. Another frequent function of the agent is often that of counselor, advising an author on various aspects of how to make writing a paying proposition on a timely basis.
Literary agencies can range in size from a single agent who represents perhaps a dozen authors, to a substantial firm with senior partners, sub-agents, specialists in areas like foreign rights or licensed merchandise tie-ins, and clients numbering in the hundreds. Most agencies, especially the smaller ones, will specialize to some degree, representing authors who (for example) write science fiction, or mainstream thrillers and mysteries, or children's books, or highly topical nonfiction. Very few agents will represent short stories or poetry.
As a writer, my high hope has been to make my book entitled: "The Leopard Princess - The Adventures of Leora of the Rainforest" into a Disney product and a new Disney Princess. I researched how to send it into Disney. It did not take me long to out that you must have an agent to send in your submission and they do not accept any unsolicited submissions.
This is true of all of the publishers I have contacted personally. I am sure you might find a publisher who will accept an unsolicited submission but what I have found on my own and through all my reading tells me that most publishers want you to have an agent. Publishers are so busy going about their business that they don't have time for this and they depend on agents to bring them the most publishable works.
I am now in the process of trying to find an agent to represent me on "The Leopard Princess" as I believe it will do well as a book in school fairs. There are certain companies that handle this business. Of course, I found out they want submissions brought to them by your agent.
You do not need an agent to self-publish nor to put your books and e-books on the sites such as www.amazon.com , www.booksamillion.com, www.barnesandnobles.com and many other smaller sites.
A knowledgeable agent knows the market, and can be a source of valuable career advice and guidance.
Having a literary agent on your side can definitely help you to get a publishing contract with a traditional publisher.
Have a wonderful day and hope to see you tomorrow!