The Average Salary of a Literary Agent

By Rick Suttle; Updated July 05, 2017
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Aspiring writers would have more difficulty getting their fiction and nonfiction books published without the assistance of literary agents, as many publishers don't accept manuscripts directly from writers. Literary agents review writers' manuscripts, make editing suggestions, and help authors negotiate advance payments and royalties from publishers. Their salaries vary, depending on experience and where they work.

Earn Less Than $60,000

While literary agents earned an average of $56,000 annually in 2014, according to Indeed, the bulk of their pay comes from commissions. Many are self-employed and pay their salaries from profits. Most have a bachelor’s degree in journalism, English or business. Primary skills for literary agents are persuasion, reading comprehension, negotiation, writing and speaking.

Higher Pay in South

Among the two highest-paying regions, literary agents earned slightly more in the South than the Northeast region, based on 2014 Indeed data. In the South, their incomes ranged from $50,000 to $70,000 in Louisiana and the District of Columbia, respectively. They averaged $50,000 in Maine and $68,000 in New York, which were the lowest and the highest salaries in the Northeast.

Publishing Marketplace Effects

Despite a “fast-as-average” 10 percent projected growth rate for agents of artists, performers and athletes by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, self-publishing may further reduce demand for literary agents. Literary agents typically advance their careers by working with more popular writers, which takes many years of experience.

About the Author

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