Literary agent

publishing agent
Print and publishing, marketing and advertising

Career outlook for literary agent

Average UK salary


Currently employed in Scotland


"LMI for All" supplies our salary and employment status information. "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would connect writers and publishers. You’d help authors get their work published as a book and you’d help companies find good books to publish and sell.

You would read through manuscripts sent to you by authors. You’d select the best pieces of work - the ones that you think could be successful - and take on the author as one of your clients.

Using your knowledge of the publishing industry, you would identify the companies that you think might be interested in the book. You’d represent the author and try to persuade the company to publish it.

It would be important to negotiate with the publishers to try and get the best deal or contract for your client. You would receive a percentage of the sale of the book as your commission.

Each book has lots of different rights to be negotiated and sold, including:

  • UK publication
  • Publication in other countries
  • Producing an e-book version
  • The option to adapt the book into a TV series or film.

You could represent novelists, poets, screenwriters or non-fiction writers. You’d probably specialise in certain types or genres such as children’s books, crime novels, or history books.

You’d need to be able to make contacts with people in publishing companies and remain on good terms with them even when negotiating hard to get the best deal for your author.You could work for a literary agency or be self-employed.

Working conditions


You may need to do additional reading outwith office hours and many literary conferences and promotional events are in the evenings and at weekends.


You would be based in an office, although you may sometimes have to go to meetings and events elsewhere.

UK employment status





Self employed


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Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Building relationships
  • Cooperating
  • Networking
  • Reading
  • Verbal communication
  • Attention to detail
  • Developing a plan
  • Making decisions
  • Negotiating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.

Foundation Apprenticeships

Choosing a Foundation Apprenticeship as one of your subjects in S5 and S6 can help you get a head start with this type of job.

You'll get an SCQF level 6 qualification (the same level as a Higher) plus valuable work placement experience and skills you can't learn in a classroom.

Interested? Find out what's on offer at your school on


There are no set qualifications required to enter this role but most employers will look for qualifications and experience relating to publishing, marketing, English and literature.

Most literary agents have a degree (SCFQ level 9/10) in areas like advertising, media, marketing, English or journalism.

To enter a degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of three Highers or a relevant HNC/HND.


Useful subjects

  • English (required by most courses and employers)
  • Maths (may be required for some courses)
  • Social studies
  • Computing
  • Business subjects

You will also need

To be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in books and the publishing industry.

Helpful to have

A driving licence.