Who came first, the publisher or the agent?…wait!…I know what you’re thinking. He’s asking THE question!… You know…THE question that’s plagued mankind since the dawn of time, rearing its ugly head when the first stone chiseling cave man, Rocky Stoningway, tried to publish the gripping granite tablet, “The Old Man and the Cave,” and the riveting sequel “For Whom the Boulder Falls.” I will admit it was easier then, as there was only one author, (the aforementioned Rocky Stoningway), one agent (Cenozoic and Sons Tablet Chiseling Agency L.L.C.) and The Big Bang Publishing Co. Ltd. (the only publisher).
Today there are hundreds of agents and publishers to service thousands upon thousands of writers. The problem, other than the shear number of writers to publishers, is that most publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Which means…drum roll…enter the agent. Agents would rather represent published authors… Talk about a rock and a hard place. It’s more like a catch twenty-six and a half or something.
The conundrum in all of this is that all three parties have valid concerns. Writers want to be published and certainly should be if their work warrants it, as many do. Agents have to be particular about who they represent else they lose credibility with their publishers. And publishers stand to lose a lot of money if they take a chance on a book that doesn’t sell. I’m not trying to pass myself off as some all knowing authority on the subject–I’m just relaying my personal experiences and what I’ve learned along the way.
It’s a tough business if a business is how you care to look at it. I prefer to embrace the passion I have for the written word, work tirelessly (but not if it truly becomes work) in order to publish, and go to all ends marketing the book. If your novel is the greatest book ever written that won’t be known if it’s never read. The one thing you’ll have to learn to accept is refusal of your work. Just never give up. (My therapist says in another year or so I should be able to handle rejection again.)
If you take anything away from this let it be this…work hard, develop thick skin, marketing is essential (no one’s going to sell your book for you) and above all, have fun…gotta run I’m late for my therapy session.