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How much does a literary agent cost? Do you pay literary agents? And which book agent fees should authors avoid paying? This article about how much a literary agent costs is part of our free 15-Part Guide About How to Get a Book Agent. It explains how literary agents make money, and it talks about the standard book agent commission or publishing agent percentage.

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Do You Pay Literary Agents? – How Much Does a Literary Agent Cost?

How much do literary agents cost? Do you pay a literary agent, or do literary agents charge fees only when they make you money? Reputable book agents don’t get paid up front. They only get paid when you get paid.

Should you have to pay a book agent, and how much does a literary agent cost? Some authors resent publishing agents charging a commission for their services, but every professional who provides a product or service deserves compensation. When it comes to author representation, the literary agent cost is well worth the literary reward.

Since the only way for writers to get book deals with major publishers is with the help of a literary agency, the cost of hiring a literary agent is a cost worth paying. Successful author representatives are also worth their literary agent commission or literary agent percentage because they help writers get paid more than they would if they were negotiating with publishers directly.

There are, however, some publishing agent fees you shouldn’t pay.

Literary Agents Fees – How Do Book Agents Make Money?

The literary agent fees authors shouldn’t pay are “literary agent reading fees,” “literary agent processing fees,” and any other literary agent fee not listed here. Those types of fees are frowned upon, and prohibited by the Association of American Literary Agents (AALA), formerly known as the AAR or Association of Authors’ Representatives.

How do literary agents make money, and how much does a literary agent cost? The only legitimate literary agent fees authors should pay are the standard book agent commission (explained in greater detail below), and any other expenses agreed upon in a writer’s author-agent contract.

Separate from a publishing agent commission, most author representatives charge up to $100-$350 per year for phone, photocopy, and courier costs associated with managing a writer’s work. Most literary agencies only collect that type of literary agent fee if they’ve sold one or more of your books.

A very small number of literary agencies charge reading fees, processing fees, and other publishing agent fees that are not part of a standard literary agent commission or the common literary agent expense deduction mentioned above. We do not recommend working with those types of publishing agents.

Literary Agent Commission – What Percentage Does a Literary Agent Take?

How much is a literary agent commission? What percentage does a literary agent take? Most book agents charge a standard literary agent commission of 15%. However, a small number of literary agencies charge a higher literary agent percentage.

How much does a literary agent cost? Most publishing agents in the United States require a standard literary agent commission of 15%. This book agent commission is payable if the book agent finds a publisher who wants to buy “North American book rights” for a manuscript. In other words, if the publisher wants to publish, distribute, and sell the book in North America. A small number of literary agencies charge a literary agent commission of 20% for this.

Literary agencies also charge a higher literary agent commission rate if they sell “subsidiary rights.” For example: audio, feature film, television, stage, international, translation, etc. When a literary agency sells those rights, they often require a book agent commission or book agent percentage of 20-30%. That’s because author representatives often partner with a “co-agent” or “sub-agent” who specializes in that area(s) to sell such rights. When that happens, the two publishing agents split or share the publishing agent commission.

How Do Literary Agents Get Paid? – How Much Does a Literary Agent Cost?

How do literary agents get paid? Most of the time, book agents accept publisher payments to their authors on their behalf. Then they deduct their book agent commission or book agent percentage, and any agreed upon expenses. Other times, publishing agents and their writers get paid separately from the publisher.

When a publisher sends an author payment to a literary agency, the amount due to the author is sent to the author with a detailed accounting. That accounting should include a copy of the financial accounting statement issued by the book publisher. It should also include an accounting of the book agent commission that’s been deducted, and any expenses outlined in the author-agent contract.

Publishing agents typically send author payments within 7-30 days of receipt from the book publisher. The time required to send author payment varies, but most book agents list the time in which they’ll send payments in their author-agent agreements.

The primary example of when publishing agents get paid separately from a writer is when an author parts ways with his literary agency for some reason and the author-agent contract is terminated. When that happens, the author representative arranges “split payment” with the publisher for future payments.

After that, the writer receives future royalty payments directly from the publisher. The book agent receives their future literary agent commission payments directly from the publisher as well. Both parties receive separate financial accounting statements from the publisher.

This article about, “How much does a literary agent cost?” “How much do publishing agents charge?” and “How do publishing agents get paid?” was written by a former literary agent turned author coach. Mark Malatesta is the creator of The Directory of Book Agents, host of Ask a Publishing Agent, and founder of Literary Agent Undercover and The Bestselling Author.

Mark has helped hundreds of authors get offers from literary agents and/or traditional publishers. Writers of all Book Genres have used our Book Agent Advice coaching/consulting to get Top Literary Agents at the Best Literary Agencies on our List of Literary Agents.

How Much Does a Literary Agent Cost? – Next Steps

Now that you know the answer to the question, “How much does a literary agent cost?” click here to:

  1. See the next part of this guide to getting a book agent, How Much Do Authors Make?
  2. Visit our Ask a Publishing Agent page, where you’ll find a complete list of questions and answers about getting a book agent.

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