On August 17 I posted the following asking if readers also believed this to be true:
Is this something you believe to be true about agents?
I’m not sure literary agents are the right way to go, as their interests are bizarrely narrow, and seem to be looking continually for exact replicas of successful works from the past, rather than compelling untold stories.
Most of the comments received were supportive and made sense. Some suggested it was sent from an author who just hit the wall on rejections. I agree. I suspect that’s exactly what happened and I do understand that frustration.
Before giving my opinion on the statement I wanted to hear from readers and I appreciate that so many contributed.
Unfortunately for authors, its so easy to feel that agents don’t want to take risks or have bizarrely narrow interests. In some cases they’re right. Life is easier when we have a sure thing and, in most cases, all readers have narrow interests. In fact, I’ve yet to meet a reader who truly reads everything. Sure many will say they do, but then you ask about the romance novel she just read or the latest horror novel and come to realize that those don’t fit into the category of everything.
Taking on a new client, or pitching a new genre or book of any kind, even from an established client is always a risk. We have to take risks, the truth is that the same old same old does not sell. Even if we’re looking for another contemporary romance because that’s what editors tell us they want, it still needs to be different enough to sell. Sometimes making the job harder. How do you take something that is “bizarrely narrow” and make it wide enough to be different, but similar enough to meet the expectations of readers?
Typically an agent’s job is to know the market and take on books she thinks she can sell to editors. Editors in turn are buying books she thinks readers want. Are there mistakes made? All the time. Are there surprise winners? Absolutely. There’s no scientific equation to any of this. Moods change and reading tastes change on a dime. Right now, we’re trying to predict what readers are going to want to read in 2017, because that’s likely when the books we’re selling today will be published. That’s a tough call to make since I can’t even predict what I’m going to want to read tomorrow.