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I've been trying to find a literary agent, but I've been coming across some terms that are foreign to me. I have a clue on what they mean, but would like to have more clarification.

Terms:

Serious fiction

High quality fiction or quality fiction

Handles all subrights of book (what does that all include typically?)

Full service literary agency (what is full service?)

Handles all subsidiary rights (what does that all include typically?)

Copying/photocopying fees (for what? and how much typically?)

Only accept work from Professional writers (who are professional writers?)

Accept by referral only (what kind of referrals?)

Of course every agent is different in what they do, but I see these terms come up a lot.

Thanks

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I doubt many of these terms have very precise definitions, and I am probably not the best authority on their meaning, but here is what I would take these terms to mean:

Serious fiction: Not genre (bearing in mind that genre is defined no only by subject matter but by treatment and intent -- Cormac McCarthy is not genre western for instance).

High quality fiction or quality fiction: Not genre.

Handles all subrights of book (what does that all include typically?) Movie, ebook, translation, foreign, adaptations. Basically all the various places and form your copyright can be licensed to.

Full service literary agency (what is full service?) Handles all of the author's literary affairs.

Handles all subsidiary rights (what does that all include typically?) subsidiary rights = subrights

Copying/photocopying fees (for what? and how much typically?) You pay when they make copies to send out. Probably at cost, but your should ask.

Only accept work from Professional writers (who are professional writers?) May mean writers with existing paid credits. May mean writers who are intending to pursue a full time literary career. May mean writers who are already making a living writing. There is not much money in one-off books.

Accept by referral only (what kind of referrals?): Someone they know and respect recommends you to them. Might be an editor, one of their current clients, a writing teacher, another agent who things they might be a better fit for your work. It may also means people they have met at pitch sessions at writing conferences. Basically means they are not reading the slush pile.

  • You used Not genre for the first 2 terms. I'm not really following what not genre means. Are you saying they don't care about the genre as long as it is fiction? – ggiaquin16 Aug 15 '17 at 22:02
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    No, I am interpreting it to mean that they don't want the stuff that ends up on the sci fi, fantasy, and romance sections of the bookstore. Not the popcorn books. – user16226 Aug 15 '17 at 22:33
  • Isn't that like 90% of fiction these days? Makes sense though. Just seems odd that they would eliminate the bulk of fiction well.. pop fiction would probably be better way to put it. Wouldn't alternative history or alternative world be considered fantasy? Or is fantasy pretty much defined and limited to the world of orcs and magic? – ggiaquin16 Aug 15 '17 at 23:11
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    @ggiaquin, no it's not 90% of fiction these days. Look that the comparative size of the general fiction and genre sections in the bookstore. Not to mention that most mystery these days tends to fall more into the serious fiction (character oriented) category. But in any case, agents represent the part of the market they understand. There are those who represent genre and those who represent upmarket literary fiction. – user16226 Aug 15 '17 at 23:23

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