Ever since I began my research into the ins and outs publishing I’ve noticed something about the world of literary agents that has left me perplexed and at times uneasy.
There are many literary agents who are also authors. Now, which came first I cannot always tell. Sometimes this feels like a conflict of interest to me, yet at others I can see how it might be an asset as well. I think the deciding factor has to do with a couple details, which came first and what they’re publishing.
Let’s look at a couple different scenarios…
If the agent was an agent before becoming an author and the genre has to do with non-fiction publishing advice, I can totally see that working. However, if they’re an agent and then somewhere along the line write a novel and get it published, I can’t help but say “huh?”
Did they have to go through the query process and find an agent to represent them, or did they skip that and submit directly to publishers? When do they find time to write, edit, and publish a novel while also being an agent to clients? Will their focus be on one or the other in the future?
This scenario leaves me with questions, and I’m not sure exactly how to feel about it.
Now let’s look at the opposite view. Say an author of fiction or non-fiction who isn’t the type of writer to churn out one or two MS’s a year decides that they’d love to use their literary skills and connections to help others reach their publishing goals. Ok, I can totally see how having gone through the process would help in your entire understanding of writing, writers and publishing. I feel like this might be an asset as an agent. I still can’t help but wonder how one might juggle the two jobs, but then lots of people do handle two jobs at once without issues.
After weighing the pros and cons of having an agent that’s published themselves I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. I’d love them to understand me as a writer, my processes, my struggles and my journey. I honestly don’t know how I could do both jobs without one getting in the way of the other though. How would my writing affect the way I represented other writing? How would my agenting affect how and what I wrote? I’m not sure I could separate the two and do either justice in the end.
So I’m curious. How do you feel about agents that are authors or authors who turn into agents? Do you think the jobs can co-mingle? Do you have an agent/author? How does that affect the way they represent you?
I’d love to hear your take on this subject, because I’m truly undecided.