Seth Godin is a guy you should get to know. A few days ago he posted an article every agent and author needs to read. He talks about--gulp--agents--all kinds of agents. Literary agents are right up there. Here's what Seth has to say:
"Literary agents are crucial when publishers believe that their choice of content is essential but have too many choices and too little time. But publishers don't trust every literary agent. They trust agents they believe in. Key point: anonymous agents are interchangeable and virtually worthless. Agents that don't do anything but help one side find the other side in a human approximation of Google aren't so helpful any more."
I couldn't agree more. Literary agents need authors who trust us and want to work with us. But unless we have solid relationships with the editors who will purchase our clients' work, we cannot succeed. This is the most difficult hurdle new literary agents face and one we've been working on since we opened our agency. As book publicists we knew and had contacts with many publishers--on the marketing/publicity side. Our challenge was (and is) to step across the hall and buddy up to the editors at those houses. The only way to do that successfully is to bring them books they want.
Here's another priceless nugget from Seth:
"...agents must...consider who they are selling to. Should talent agents only sell to Hollywood? Literary agents only to book publishers? ...When markets change, agents can lead the way, not follow along grudgingly."
I confess I've been thinking about this for some time. In these days of POD and instant books, there are many strategic marketing benefits available to savvy companies who want to put their brand on an appropriate book. After all, Starbucks picks bestsellers to sell in it's stores. What about taking this a step further? Would Honda consider publishing a book about the open road? If we take on a book about eyesight, should we approach Lens Crafters as a potential publisher?
Just a few thoughts spurred on by Godin. He's always one to kick one's brain into motion.
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