Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?

Brian’s insights on the role of agents is right on the money. I often find it ironic that many authors who have spent years writing must jump through multiple hoops and humbly request that less experienced agents pass judgement on their work and accept to represent them in order for the agents / publishers to make a greater percentage of the resulting profits then the author. Then, if the book is a literary masterpiece but does not have the right popular twist, it may still be rejected because it lacks income potential, at least in the eyes of the agents. It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s time for a change.

Indie Hero

A few years ago, Samuel Moffie submitted The Perfect Martini to 100 literary agents. Actually, he submitted 90% of the first twenty pages of Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions disguised as The Perfect Martini. Any guesses on his success rate? 100 out of 100, right? No. Only one agent responded positively, but that’s because the agent recognized the original author. 99 agents declined. Just to be clear, yes, the critically acclaimed, award-winning, nationally revered Kurt Vonnegut. Rejected.

Agents are concerned with commercial viability, that’s first and foremost. Period. Literary quality is a secondary bonus, if present. Now, if Vonnegut wrote a novel where a dominant vampire becomes master to a naive, submissive, shape-shifting werewolf, I’m sure he would have fared better.

Here’s the point. Why spend months, or even years, writing and submitting queries to agents who are clearly looking the other way? If they passed on Kurt Vonnegut, what chance…

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4 thoughts on “Agents. Qualified literary gatekeepers?

    • You’re welcome. I also posted it to my twitter, Facebook and Linked-in pages. I am working with a group of authors and publishers now to create strategies to dramatically enhance the quality and status of self-published books. I’ll be posting on our efforts as we get closer to completion.

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