Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Brave New World of Agents and Authors

I used to go crabbing with my grandfather in Virginia. You would put a piece of fish on a line and pull it in through the surf. The crab would follow the fish in and then get netted. If you put a lot of pieces of fish on the line then you could get multiple crabs. This is probably not a bad metaphor for agents and authors. We are the fish and the agent is the crabber. The question is how many fish are on the same line and of course it behooves the agent to put as much bait out there as possible. This puts the author at a disadvantage right away.

Because only some of the bait will attract the crab. And the rest will go along for the ride and eventually fall off the line. A good crabber always puts on fresh fish. These really get the crabs to come in. The old fish just loses smell and falls apart. And now in the brave new world of publishing it gets worse. The agents need more bait than ever because it is hard out there right now. Some would say brutal. And the fresh fish always gets priority. And the other fish just slowly go bad.

The author has to put himself in charge. He must let the agent know how long he is willing to wait and he must also know when he has fallen off the line. This is not the fault of the agent. It is just business now. It is brutal out there. And you don't want to be just bait on the line. You really want to be the crabber.

Books by William Hazelgrove