Literary Agents


Education and Training Requirements

High School

In order to identify and represent the best writers, you need to be well versed in classic and modern literature and have strong writing skills yourself. While in high school, take classes in literature and composition. Theater and music classes are also beneficial if you are interested in screenplays and scripts. Business, accounting, and mathematics classes will help you develop skills that will help you to operate your business and manage the financial affairs of your clients.

Postsecondary Training

Desirable areas of study in college include liberal arts, performing arts, and business administration. It is also helpful to study law, although agents need not be lawyers. A college degree is not necessary, but would-be agents with a degree are more likely to be hired than those without a college education.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There is no certification or licensing available for literary agents.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Working for an agent as an intern, volunteer, or assistant will provide great experience that will look good on your resume. Contact agents in your area to learn more about the opportunities that are available.

Agents need not have any specific education or technical skills, but you must have a knack for recognizing and promoting marketable talent. You must be familiar with the needs of publishers so as to approach them with the most appropriate and timely manuscript. You must be persistent without crossing over the line to harassment, for you must not alienate any of the publishers you will want to contact in the future. 

Because continued success depends on the ability to maintain good relationships with clients and potential employers for their clients, you must have good people skills; you must be able to interact tactfully and amicably with a wide variety of people, from demanding clients to busy editors. Moreover, because writers' careers have their ups and downs and production and publishing are fields with high turnover rates, you should not become complacent. You must be flexible, adaptive, and able to establish new relationships quickly and with finesse.