Literary Agents and Authors: Allies?
by Kathy Coogan
Writers and literary agents become allies if/when a query is accepted. But the odds are against the writer. With a few curt, cold rejections pinned to the office wall, writers begin to see the agent as the barrier to their goals not the gateway.
Surely writers have benefited from universal access to personal computers, laptops and I-Pads. Microsoft Word.docx and spell-check can turn any optimist into an author.
Because of this, agents claim to be unable to keep up with the e-mail deluge, giving vivid accuracy to the term Slush Pile. But it is disheartening from the writer's perspective when agents tweet acid comments about the quality of the writing they are forced to wade through, tarring all writers with the WhoDoThesePeopleThinkTheyAre?Brush.
As numbers of queries increase, more and more publishing houses slip into oblivion. Publishing House executives have nightmares about buggy whips and eight track tape players as E-Readers abound. Putting their money on potential producers of multiple titles of saleable merchandise seems the only path to a black, not red, bottom line. They ignore future Harper Lees or Margaret Mitchells, deemed failures for producing only one golden egg.
i have an idea to help agents cull the wheat from the chaff. The mechanics of writing has been simplified by Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Perhaps some literary Wiz Kid could create software designed to recognize character, plot, climax and resolution. Plug in Vocabulary and Elements of Style so any robot worth his Xs and Os could become a First Reader.
Writers have been lulled by low expectations to receive formulaic rejection letters, emailed by a touch of the bored keystroke. So too, could we be trained to accept mechanical reading of our query in a timely fashion by Apple’s latest I-Agent.
With this new device to scan and accept queries which surpass the literary basics, agents might have more time to arbitrarily detect diamonds in the Slush.
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