For Those Who need to Deal With Literary Agents

While pulling together a list of other online sites for my little sidebar of what to read (still under construction, but with no readers, who cares if I take my time), I found a horror story of bad literary agents from Mad Max Perkins. You'll probably need to scroll down at this point to Wednesday, June 29th. The entry is "Misadventures in (Mis)representation." My initial response (the cynical response) when reading it was, "of course these literary agents aren't on the fast track to sell an unknown author." The literary agents in question are probably focused on working with the talent that got them to be a literary agent in the first place and can't be bothered with the small fish, so to speak (and most of us are small fish in their eyes). I mean hey there's no glory in making a few hundred dollar selling some small book to a genre publisher. Not if there's a chance for a high six figure advance from Harper or Random House. Think about the motivations and origins of the literary agent. What allows one to become a literary agent? Connections and recognition. Once you have those you don't need to work so hard. I've seen submission from agents that are on the same level as the unagented submission from the guys who want to write a memoir about their alien abduction or the science of God. It's horrible when anyone has to deal with bad agents- either as an author or an editor. But what can we do besides walk away? There's no consumer reports for agents (hint: hint: to an enterprising group of young authors out there) so others end up experiencing the same pain over and over.

While you're at bookangst 101, make sure to check out the comments. tucked inside a very wise comment from Jessica on her experiences with literary agents is a brilliant suggestion- "Maybe we should all do some math on how many agents are out there in the marketplace, selling how many books every month? to give us some perspective." Think about what would happen if we had those stats. Authors and editors wouldn't be so blind when working with agents they weren't familiar with.


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