Below you’ll find answers to the questions we get asked the most. Hopefully, your query is answered here, but if you can’t find what you’re looking for then please feel free to get in touch and we’ll be happy to assist further.
What is a literary agent and why do I need one?
A literary agent represents authors and is engaged in promoting authors’ works in the domestic and global markets and in defending authors’ rights in the UK, abroad and online. Our members’ primary goal is to ensure that their clients receive the best possible terms in the sale of rights in their works. This applies to all areas of rights, territories, formats (whether book, TV/film, audio, etc). For more information, please see our Code of Practice.
Please be aware that literary agencies are not editorial consultancies, so detailed responses or feedback on your work are not guaranteed when you submit to agents. Please refer to the submission guidelines on individual agency websites for further information.
What does the Association of Authors' Agents do?
The AAA is a voluntary body set up to provide a forum for member agencies to discuss industry matters, to uphold a code of good practice, and to provide a vehicle for representing the interests of agents and authors. Our members are based in the UK, have a list of clients who are actively engaged in writing, and abide by our Code of Practice.
Can you tell me who represents a specific author?
We do not hold a database of this kind of information. Please contact the Society of Authors or the ALCS (see Useful Contacts below) or the publisher of that writer’s most recent book, who should be able to help you.
How do I find a literary agent?
You can find a list of AAA members and their contact details here on our website in our Members Directory. In most cases, their submission requirements can be found on their website. There are numerous other helpful resources in print and online, including the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook and the The Writer’s Handbook.
Does a literary agent charge a fee?
It is a condition of the Code of Practice of the AAA that our members do not charge their clients for reading fees or any other fee (aside from expenses or bank charges) beyond their commission. For further information on this, please see our Code of Practice and information on our individual member’s websites. Please see clause 9 of the Code for more details.
I am a new writer, looking for advice on how to go about getting published. Can you help?
As we are a voluntary trade body, we are sadly unable to operate as an information service to the public. If you require general information about how to go about getting published or finding representation by an agent, we recommend that you consult a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, published by Bloomsbury which you should be able to obtain online or from any bookshop. Both of these books list agents and publishers in the UK and Ireland, as well as abroad, with some information about the material that each is looking for and an indication of whether or not they will receive unsolicited work. They give guidelines for the submission of material and describe the role of a literary agent.
Do self-published authors need a literary agent?
There are advantages – not least in terms of contacts, ability to sell rights, and publishing advice – that an agent can offer an author who wishes to self-publish. For more information about AAA guidelines on how an agent can assist a self-published author, please see our Guidelines.
I am a new writer looking for an agent who represents writers in a specific genre. Can you tell me who to approach?
We do not hold a database of our members’ specific areas of interest or of their clients, so we are unable to route enquiries of this kind, and unfortunately there’s no easy answer to this. Listings in both the Writer’s Handbook and the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (AAA members are marked with an asterisk) give some information about the kind of writing that each agency represents, in some cases listing their major clients. (There is also a separate guide dedicated to agencies that represent children’s books: the Children’s Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook) For further information about our member agencies, please contact them direct.
I have a query relating to a specific author or title...
The Association of Authors’ Agents is not itself a body that represents clients. For specific queries, you need to identify the relevant agent and contact them directly. Contact details can be found in our Members Directory.
If you have a query regarding the copyright holder of an orphan work (as defined by the Intellectual Property Office in this document) and would like to ask the AAA for help in this, please be in touch with the Secretary.
If you need assistance finding the right agent to answer your query, or need general advice, the following organisations will be able to offer you some assistance:
The Society of Authors
ALCS (The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society Limited)
PLR (Public Lending Right)
The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain
The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook (Bloombury)
The Writer’s Handbook (JP&A Dyson)