A literary agent is admired, pursued, and scorned. The latter is often as a consequence of rejection.
Although in some cases that resentment may have come from a chance encounter or a writing conference where on each occasion the agent did not come across in a way they had hoped for with a particular writer.
First impressions matter but circumstance may prevent that impression being a true reflection of the agent's character.
Unfortunately, there are some writers who never deter from their disdain of literary agents. They view them as an unnecessary obstacle that self-publishing removes. This in itself is one of the biggest downsides of the digital publishing revolution.
Literary agents do matter. They can add so much to a writer's career that their small commission seems insignificant and unbalanced for what they offer.
But no matter which side of the fence the writer prefers, literary agents deserve respect. They have earned it.
- 1. Schedule Demands - Such is the nature of the business that time is of the essence for a literary agent. Their meetings, talks, administrative duties, and dealings with their current clients, takes up a large percentage of their working week. Yet, in spite of this, they still manage to devote time to reading new writers and answering questions through social media and conferences. No matter what their schedule throws at them, they always make the time for writers seeking representation.
- 2. Open Policies - Unlike the very selective closed-door policy of screenwriting representation, book agents have an open door policy for new writers. They give everyone the same chance to impress. It would be much easier for them to close their doors to referrals only in light of the thousands of queries that come their way. But they don't. They only occasionally close their doors in order to catch up with their submissions inbox. But they soon reopen to even more new writers and regularly encourage prospective clients to contact them. They embrace new writing talent.
- 3. Shared Passions - First and foremost, literary agents are readers. They love to read. Their passion for books has evolved into representation, but at their very core, they love the buzz of reading great writing. They are no different from writers, who also grew up loving literature and wanting to be part of the business itself. Literary agents understand the passion of a writer. They are not detached from a writer's journey. They get it. It is a shared passion to be part of the very industry that inspires them so much.
- 4. Reputation - How a writer reacts to rejection can determine their future submissions because the world of agency representation is connected. Literary agents from a variety of agencies network all the time at festivals, talks, and award shows. If a writer reacts unprofessionally in response to a rejection, or just in how they have approached the agent in the first place, that story will be shared between colleagues. If fellow agents have heard about their attitude in advance, they would also avoid them. Consequently, that writer's particular submission could become black marked within the industry. At the other end of the spectrum, if a writer acts professionally by demonstrating respect for the agent, that too will be noted. The writer's positive and admirable reaction is something that the agent may very well share with an agent at another agency. Either way, a writer's reputation will be determined by their respect for those within the publishing industry.