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Likely Stories

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Keir Graff and editors from Booklist's adult and youth departments write candidly about books, book reviewing, and the publishing industry

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007 8:56 am
Agents: Useless or Merely Ineffectual?
Posted by: Keir Graff

There’s been some upheaval at one of England’s top literary and acting agencies, the details of which aren’t terribly important to anyone except to industry watchers and top literary and acting talent. It did, however, result in a commentary (“Agent provocateur,” the Guardian) by Martin Wagner which is worth the time of anyone who aspires to be a working writer.

The problem is that there are many more writers than the market can bear, and to most publishers writers are about as important as farmers are to Tesco – they know that there is an endless supply of produce. Of course most of the unsolicited writing that lands on agents’ desks is rubbish, but how can we be sure that the occasional gem will be discovered? The short answer is that we can’t and, sadly, neither agents nor publishers lose any sleep over it. The undiscovered writer is the acceptable victim of a system which, ironically, works for everyone concerned except for the very people who are its lifeblood.

It’s not as dire as it sounds. Read on.

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One Response to “Agents: Useless or Merely Ineffectual?”
  1. Things On My Mind 3 « Slipping In The Rain Says:

    [...] Martin Wagner on literary agents. (Via Likely Stories) [...]


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