Poets & Writers Magazine has an excellent Q & A with agent Lynn Nesbit.
She discusses the changing role of agents Poets&Writers, Inc.: “You are part of a writer’s support systemâ€”a very important part. The role of the agent is more important today than it was when I was starting out. Because the publishing world is so corporate, and editors move around so much, you are increasingly the only fixed point for the writer. That’s one way it’s changed. Another thing that I notice here, with younger agents like Tina and Eric, is that they do a lot of editing, and we didn’t do that when we were young. I think it’s partly because of the editors. There is such pressure on editors to come in with something that’s almost ready to go that the agents are assuming part of what the editors used to do.”
New writers are always horrified to learn that agents and editors who read their book don’t actually read it.
Agents and editors sample your manuscript, as you might sample a wine… or as you might sample a book in a bookstore.
I love this article – Frankfurt Book Fair – Books – New York Times which says: “Later that night Mr. Stein arrived half an hour late to a dinner party of editors and agents in their 30s. Laurenz Bolliger, an editor at the prestigious German publisher Berlin Verlag, pulled out a manuscript he was considering and asked for Mr. Steinâ€™s opinion. He looked at the first sentence, flipped to a random page and deemed it a word unprintable in a family newspaper.”
If you want to write a book and sell it, realizing that it’s a billion dollar business can give you perspective.
With luck, it will inspire you to write the best book you can right now, knowing that your skills as a writer will improve with every book you write.