by Tim Kane
Let me state from the start, I am not now, nor will I become an agent. That’s a hard job all the way around. However, I know and have worked with a few over the years. On piece of advice that actually came from a Hollywood agent (who repped actors) always stuck with me: Agents are gamblers.
Think about it. When an agent signs on an author (or actor), the agent will spend hours developing the manuscript and then shopping it around. Every phone call, email, critique or marketing plan is unpaid. Let’s remind ourselves, agents have bills to pay. Unlike most writers, agenting is their only job and livelihood. When they take on a new client, they take on risk.
Just like a Las Vegas high roller sitting at the blackjack table for hours, literary agents pray for the big return. Yes, we know most agents were drawn to the field for love of books and the writing process, but love will only sustain you for so long. Eventually, when the electricity bill goes from white, to yellow, to pink, the bills need to be paid.
Agents need to be good at two things, selling writers and spotting talent. Its the second one that most writers don’t consider. They are basically a talent scout and you (the writer) are a minor league ball player strutting your stuff. If you get signed, it means you have partner in crime. However, for the agent, you are the gamble. The roll of the dice. The two card deal with fingers crossed for twenty-one.
Let’s hope lady luck is with us.