Speed dating agents
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Agents are most likely to become successful if they’ve actually worked in publishing, or trained at a reputable literary agency.People who come to agenting without this kind of professional background are at a significant disadvantage. Many make a good-faith effort to place their clients’ work.
Many professional writers (and some how-to-get-published books) will tell you that you should make your first sale yourself, and only then, contract in hand, go looking for an agent to close the deal.
But scam agents are still out there, ready to entrap the unwary writer–as are their close cousins, amateur and marginal agents.
There are no licensing requirements or competency standards for literary agents.
However, their low skill level makes it unlikely that they’ll sell anything–or if they do, that they’ll ever manage to move beyond marginal status.
Their poor sales records are a major incentive to charge fees in order to keep their businesses afloat, and they may have peculiar or nonstandard business practices (for instance, using clients’ own query letters).
Some believe they can transfer skills from a career in advertising, sales, or academia.
Many are frustrated writers who think they can do a better job than all the heartless people who ignored their submissions or sent them form rejection letters. It requires a range of specialized expertise–such as the ability to judge marketable manuscripts (not as easy as you might think) and a knowledge of publishing contract terminology (much of which is unlike other contract terminology)–as well as contacts within the publishing industry (publishing is still very much a back-room, schmooze-over-lunch business).They negotiate advances and publishing contracts to their clients’ advantage, and are experienced in marketing subsidiary rights.Just as important, agents serve as writers’ advocates in the increasingly complex and competitive world of publishing.The FBI’s Resource Planning Office (RPO) takes a corporate approach to maximizing efficiency and effectiveness in the Bureau by managing and aligning our strategic goals with financial and human resources, performance measures, and internal policy management—all of which assists senior executives with decision-making.These efforts, in turn, allow our operational personnel to focus on what they do best—mitigating the nation’s highest priority national security and criminal threats.They may run fee-charging publishers (possibly under different names, to conceal the connections), into which clients are funneled once they’ve racked up enough rejections to become desperate.