Literary Agents, Book Publishers, and Editors: What’s the Difference?

The publishing industry is constantly changing. Authorship has become much easier with advanced technology, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about how publishing works today. For new authors looking to get published, it can be challenging to know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you understand the differences between the major players in the industry and what you should be looking for when exploring options.

What is a publishing company?

A publishing company is a business that invests in publishing and distributing books. They work with authors to help them publish their works and make sure they get the broadest possible distribution to bookstores, libraries, schools, etc. Publishing companies take a percentage of book sales in return for this service. Publishers may also pay advances on royalties when signing an author’s first contract; these are called “advance payments” or simply “advances.” The process of getting published by a publishing house is competitive – typically, only a tiny percentage of manuscripts submitted each year actually receive offers from publishers! Publishing houses will be the ones to print your book, cover design (if you choose), and marketing materials like posters or flyers about upcoming releases from their company. They may also provide editing before the publication date, which can help ensure quality control over what gets published under their name. Often, publishing houses have many different imprints that specialize in one type or another genre of publishing. Our specialty here at Lucid Books is in the Christian book publishing industry. 

What is a literary agent?

A literary agent is an individual who represents authors and their works to publishing companies. They are typically paid a commission (ranging between 15-20% on average) of the book’s royalties for finding a publisher and negotiating contracts for their clients. They read manuscripts and provide feedback to help authors improve their work before submission. It’s important to note you do not need an agent to publish your book – publishing houses will happily work with unrepresented authors, too! However, having an experienced advocate in your corner can be incredibly helpful when it comes time to negotiate a contract or sell foreign rights.

What is an editor?

An editor is responsible for reviewing manuscripts submitted to publishing companies. They make sure the book meets a certain quality standard. Typically, editors are not responsible for finding new authors or selling their books to publishing houses – that’s the literary agent’s job. However, they may provide feedback and suggestions to help an author improve their work before submission.

So, are you looking for a book publisher, an editor to make your story shine, or maybe an agent who can help get your work into the hands of readers? It all depends on what type of publishing professional is right for you and your project! There are a lot of different publishing professionals out there, and they all have their own specialties within the publishing niche. Now that you know the difference between them, we hope it’s easier for you to determine which one is right for your book. 

Are you ready to get started on your publishing journey? Let’s talk!