How to Become a

Publishing Agent

The complete career guide to be a Publishing Agent: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $95,810
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 2.5%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Deal Making
    Career Attribute

Publishing agents represent writers, journalists, and authors and work to find professional opportunities for these creative professionals to earn incomes from their writing. They may submit manuscripts to publishers, seek opportunities to have articles published in magazines, or schedule book tours.

Recommended Schools

What is a Publishing Agent?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in publishing agent roles:

  • Find and secure job opportunities for represented writers, authors, and freelance journalists
  • Grow network of professional contacts in the field of publishing
  • Send client manuscripts, chapters, and summaries out to publishers
  • Conduct research to collect new opportunities for clients
  • Negotiate on behalf of represented clients to ensure client interests are always served

A Day in the Life

In the world of publishing, the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is perhaps more applicable than in any other industry. Writers, authors, and freelance journalists who are unknown in the field and without professional contacts often struggle to get their writing published. To bridge the gap, they commonly work with publishing agents. Publishing agents have a wide variety of professional contacts in the publishing industry, and can use their vast networks to find publishing opportunities for their clients.

The primary goal of a publishing agent is to find new publication opportunities for the writers they represent. These opportunities can vary based on the types of writers the agent represents. Some work with book authors and seek to find opportunities for manuscript publication through major publishers. Some work with freelance journalists and seek opportunities with magazines and newspapers for article publication. Others work with short story writers and seek opportunities for publication in literary journals.

When seeking new work for clients, publishing agents must work to ensure the opportunities they find serve the best interests of clients. This may include reviewing contracts and ensuring pay is commiserate with expectations. Additionally, the publishing agent may work to push clients to complete work on deadline in order to maintain the relationship with a publisher. For example, publishing agents may secure new book deals using only a chapter of a book or a book summary, and they then work with their clients to ensure the rest of the book is completed by set deadlines.

Typical Work Schedule

While the majority of a publishing agent’s work may occur during normal business hours, publishing agents commonly work overtime to fulfill all of their job responsibilities. They may need to work evenings and weekends to meet deadlines or best serve their clients’ interests.

Typical Employers

Publishing agents usually either work for literary agencies or are self-employed. Some of the largest literary agencies in the U.S. include Trident Media Group, Writers House, Marly Rusoff & Associates, ICM, and Inkwell Management. Some may also work directly for publishing companies.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Publishing Agent

There is no standard path to becoming a publishing agent; in fact, you can take a number of different paths. Most publishing agents start their careers doing some form of professional work in the industry, which may or may not be directly related to being an agent. Some may begin their careers as authors and publish many books before venturing into work as an agent. Some work for publishers as acquisitions editors or copy editors. These roles allow aspiring publishing agents to begin growing their networks of professional contacts in the industry.

A college degree may or may not be required depending on the path you take to become a publishing agent, but it is highly recommended. Many aspiring publishing agents pursue bachelor’s degrees in English literature, while others may focus more on business- and sales-focused degrees. The reality is that publishing agents need talents in both fields. They need to know how to recognize exceptional literature in order to find the right clients, and they need to know how to market their clients using sales and marketing techniques, and to understand and negotiate contracts on the behalf of clients.

Pursuing a degree also allows aspiring publishing agents to find internship opportunities. The path to working in publishing as an agent takes many years of hard work in unpaid or entry-level positions, and finding relevant internships in publishing during college can place students on the right path to get begin growing contacts in the industry. With several years of experience working in publishing, agents may be able to find positions with literary agencies, or branch out to act as self-employed publishing agents.

Publishing Agent Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Publishing Agent salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Publishing Agent's can make an average annual salary of $95,810, or $46 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $40,080 or $19 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #74 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Publishing Agent. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Publishing Agents

  • 4.4%   Doctorate
  • 9.4%   Masters
  • 46.2%   Bachelors
  • 9%   Associates
  • 20.8%   College
  • 9.3%   High School
  • 0.9%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Publishing Agent job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 500 jobs for a total of 20,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 2.5% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #533 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Publishing Agents

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Agents and managers for artists, athletes, entertainers, and other public figures 8,400 --- 0%
Self-employed workers 7,500 300 0%
Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events 800 100 0%

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