Who’s Working For Who?   2 comments

Recently AgentQuery Connects own AQCrew, (Our version of The Dread Pirate Roberts.), posted an article from The Telegraph about author J.K. Rowling’s decision to dump her long time agent.

After reading said article, I had to take a few hours to cool off before blogging about it.

First, let me state beyond contention that I am the last person to diss having a good agent. In my own humble opinion, a good agent is nearly indispensable, and landing one is the whole point of AgentQuery Connect. However, this particular article had me as pissed off as a Hebrew man at a Neo-Nazi rally. And, for me, that’s saying a lot.

To read the article you would think that Ms. Rowling had done little more than write a NaniWriteMo piece, and her agent did all the work on the novel. That HE was the one who made Harry Potter the mega success it became. This speaks volumes for the illusion of the agent’s role in the literary world, and like it, or not, I’m about to shatter that illusion into teeny-tiny little fragments.

The agent’s job is to find a publisher willing to take a chance on your book, and negotiate the best deal they can get for the author. That is IT! The agent does NOT sweat over plot. They DO NOT stay awake at night searching for the right scene to make the novel something special. They DO NOT spend years polishing a manuscript until it shines enough to be accepted by another agent. They DO NOT bust their brain into Excedrin headache #1,426 coming up with unique plot twists to entertain the reading public.

To imply that the agent is the person who made a writer’s career a success is not only insulting beyond belief, it is akin to saying that Leonardo Dicaprio’s agent did all his acting FOR him.

Now, I don’t know if this blog is going to totally ruin my chances at landing an agent, or not. But I can, and will say; at this point I’m not sure I really care. The only time in my 50 some odd years on this planet that I have felt this insulted was when I was working as a graphic artist.

True Story:

Like all graphic artists I also held the dream of one day having my paintings hanging in a gallery somewhere. Of turning out art that would pay my bills, and maybe leave a legacy to make my small mark on the world. A long shot, I know, but one worth taking, at the time.

One day, while channel surfing, I was halted by a news report of a brand new artist who was commanding an average of $15,000.00 per painting. I had to stop. To know that there was hope for me. To applaud another artist who had made it. Until the story revealed the artist in question.

A raccoon!

It’s the closest I’ve ever come to kicking in the television screen. It also marked the downfall of my desire to be a gallery artist, and probably my career as a graphic artist as well. The life just drained out of the whole scene for me that day.

Giving an agent, no matter how talented, kudos for an author’s success with the public is dangerously close to the same thing. I don’t care how good an agent is, if the public isn’t buying the story they are not going to be able to change that. In fact they are not even going to try. They will simply move on to the next client, and the next commission.

I’m not saying this is bad, it’s just how the business works. If an agent doesn’t earn any commissions, they can’t feed their children. They are, for the most part, hard working, intelligent professionals. But, to give an agent this much credit for a writer’s hard work is unconscionable, and in damn poor taste.

The story lives, or dies by the writer who penned it, not by the will of the agent. The agent is a broker, not the product. And that is all there is to it. No more, no less.

Besides, without a writer’s manuscript to sell, I seriously doubt the agent would be in business.

So, let’s give credit where credit is due. It was J.K. Rowling’s considerable skill as a storyteller and writer that conjured up those millions for her, not her agent.

Ever;
Pete

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2 responses to “Who’s Working For Who?

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  1. Amen, and amen. Giving agents their props, they do a lot to guide an author in the right direction as far as who to talk to and what to do to get people reading their stuff. But what made Harry Potter great was the depth of the characters, the intricacy of the plot, the scope of the world, not the infamous change from “Philosopher’s” to “Sorcerer’s” in the title that either the agent or the publisher suggested.

    • You can say that, again, Moon.

      I definitely give the agents their props, and would give my back teeth to land a good one. But, to read this crap article you would think her agent wrote the book.

      Not cool.

      A good agent is worth their weight in gold, as is a good editor, but the article took it way too far.

      Make no mistake, dear readers, it was Ms. Rowling who made Harry Potter, not her agent. If anything, she made him.

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