The Secret History of Agents

July 7th, 2004 · No Comments
by Booksquare

It has been said that we’re obsessed with our blog. This is not true. Contrary to popular belief, our first actions of the morning have nothing to do with Booksquare. And that will continue to be the case every April through October. It is during those months that we rise and lament the inability of our fantasy baseball team to rise from its below average position (this year, we’re certain it has everything to do with the league leader being collusion with the devil or something equally nefarious). Then we read our email. Sometimes we see interesting tidbits for commenting, but usually we delete a lot of spam. Then we check out a few news sources. Then, after all of that hard work is behind us, we start our work day. So there, Mr. All-You-Ever-Do-Is-Blog!

It strikes us that some of the above chronology may not be true every day, but the fantasy team is always cared for first. They are big men and require a lot of attention. Just like authors. We need a lot of care and attention — much more than we can get. Paul Collins, in the Village Voice, talks about agents good and ugly. Publisher’s Lunch (you are paying for the cool new deluxe version, right?) points out that the headline is a bit misleading, though the infamous Dorothy Deering case is mentioned. What Collins offers is a little bit of agenting history (complete with quotes from vintage sources). We learned that the first New York literary agency failed. It was because of the authors, not the agents. Right.

Collins believes that agents serve as the publishing industry’s gatekeepers — we would agree if it weren’t for the charming (in a sick, sad way) story he uses to open his essay. On the very day his agent informs him there is interest from a Big Publisher, he receives a (fairly positive) rejection from that same publisher’s submissions department…

File Under: Agents