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Literary Agent
gourmet articlesarchiveliterary agent

What is a literary agent?
A literary agent is the person who represents the author to a publisher. They take care of their client, help get a proposal in shape, and solicit business for them. They will sell a prospective author to a publishing house and handle all contract negotiations.

When and why do I need an agent?
When....when you are serious about committing the time it takes to write a culinary book. A good cookbook can take one to three years, some times longer, to write and research. It is at this point that you need an agent.

Why ...An agent will know the business, after reading your proposal (your writing and sample recipes) they will know which publishing house to pitch the prospective project to. Once they have found you a publisher they will negotiate the deal; the advance - the money you receive at the beginning of the project as an "advance" against sales. Royalties - the percentage of profit that you gain per book sold after the advance is earned out, subsidiary rights - a percentage of the moneys earned for paperback, movie, electronic and other sales. Serialization - moneys that you will gain if the book gets excerpted in magazines or newspapers prior to publication. They would also work on other details such as who pays the photographer.

How can I find one that represents chefs specifically?
Ask other published chefs.One of the best ways is to get their feedback on the experience they had while going through the process. Alternatively open up some cook books and read the acknowledgments. Invariably the chef author will thank their agent.

What questions should I ask when trying decide upon the person to represent me?
Are they small and focused or do they have a large portfolio of clients. How accessible are they, how quickly will they return your calls. Also find out how quickly they will read and respond to you proposal - one, two, three weeks months or longer...

What qualities would a good agent possess and what should I expect from them?
Qualities - A good agent should be someone who is honest with you. A team player. Someone with integrity who has your best interests at heart. Expectations - You should expect your agent to help build your career, and nurture your writing skills. They should be there for you, and deal with the difficult situations on your behalf. For example if you are not happy with your photographer or a co-witer then your agent will be the one to deal with it. Lastly they should remember that they work for you, not the otherway around.

What will my agent expect from me?
Not to be a prima donna, to meet deadlines, honor contracts and to be reasonable and to be a team player.

Will this be good for my career and what will I get out of it?
The right agent should boost your career, and assist in building it over a period of time. Additionally an agent will often be able to broker deals and gain other financial compensation for you. Some like us also negotiate culinary spokes person and product endorsement deals. The key here is to show integrity in only putting your name on things that you believe in. It is better to continually make a modest amount of money continually backing what you believe to be good rather than selling out for what seems like a lot of money but closing the door to any future endorsements.

Will I sign a contract and what will it commit me to?
Yes you will sign a contract both with your agent and hopefully with the publisher who buys your book. Contracts vary but you will commit to commissions, duration, subsidiary rights, acceptability, market clauses and so on....

Finally, will I have to pay any money in advance or is it a commission based relationship?
It is commission based, with most agents charging 15% of all moneys earned on book sales. This should include reading your manuscript.

Lisa Ekus founded the LISA EKUS PUBLIC RELATIONS COMPANY, LLC in 1982. The company specializes in cookbook and food publicity, creates press packages, arranges feature articles and author interviews with TV, radio and press nationwide.

Her company has represented such noted food authors as Jean Anderson, Melanie Barnard, Rick Bayless, Flo Braker, Irena Chalmers, Craig Claiborne, Marcel Desaulniers, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Carol Field, Debbi Fields, Susanna Foo.

Lisa is also the literary agent for a collection of US based chefs. To find out more on LISA EKUS PUBLIC RELATIONS COMPANY, LLC, visit or visit her latest venture

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