Agents are professionals who represent authors with publishers but who seek win-win deals for all. Good agents understand and have experience and contacts with the publishing industry and use that knowledge to bring good authors, books, and publishers together.

An agent can help an author to publish a book in several ways:

  • refining an idea to make it attractive and timely;
  • helping write a targeted proposal for a publisher;
  • knowing what has already been published and what will sell;
  • having contacts in the publishing industry;
  • advocating for a book and an author;
  • negotiating with the publisher to get the best deal for the author.

For these kinds of services, the agent typically gets 15 percent off the advance and any subsequent royalties. For additional services (such as editing or rewriting a manuscript and negotiating permissions requests) there is usually an additional fee.

Agents also save time for publishers, who typically are inundated with queries and manuscripts (most of which are unpublishable). Good agents, who know the business, can cut through the clutter and send targeted authors, ideas, and books to publishers. While the agent ultimately represents the author, the agent-editor relationship can greatly help publishers productively acquire the authors and books they need to excel.