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A Literary Agent is someone who helps writers get their stories made into books. Their job is to read as many stories as possible and find the best stories as possible and then find a publisher who is willing to pay the writer to turn the story into a book which is then sold in bookshops or online.
Why are good literary agents hard to get hold of? Well, there's a shortage of agents and a surplus of writers. Finding a literary agent is more than possible. Many publishers now require an author to be represented by someone else.
Agents might request certain edits or changes before presenting a manuscript to a publisher. The agent checks the manuscript before it gets to the publishers; the agent has a better chance of selling your book to the Big 5; They have better paying book advances and royalties; and fostering a relationship that often results in furture book releases.