Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Keeping The Gate

There comes a time in all agents’ lives when they are accused of inhibiting the publication of someone’s wonderful novel or book. It’s been a while since I’ve been called a gatekeeper, but I’m sure, even though the accusation hasn’t been verbalized lately, that it’s been thought about. Am I right?

What has always puzzled this agent is why would anyone think that agents have this much power? Yes, we do reject much of what passes through our inboxes, but we are only one in many hundreds of agents, so if we don’t wish to represent someone--or anyone for that matter--what kind of a dent does one imagine this makes in publishing as a whole?

Actually, the feeling isn’t all bad, because like everyone I do have an ego. I would like to think that I’m powerful enough to stop every book that I don’t like from being published. However, I’m also humble enough to realize that even though there are hundreds of thousands of novels that I might dislike, both published and unpublished, that gatekeeping them all from getting their day on the bookstore shelf would be a huge order even for a super hero.

Let’s take that one step further: How can anyone prevent anything from being published? To make my point, right after the latest supposed shoe bomber incident, (the one where the guy was smoking in an airplane’s restroom) a news commentator said he’d found the ingredients for making a shoe bomb on the Internet. So my point is that if someone can publish this, what makes anyone think that publishing your book is difficult?

Aaaah, that’s it. There’s another side to this isn’t there? Even though it’s easy to be published, those who are thinking me a gatekeeper really don’t mean that I’m blocking them from publication. What they really mean is that I’m blocking them from making MONEY at being published—being paid to be published---that’s what I’m supposedly blocking.

Please rest assured and don't worry about this as I will not block your novel from making us tons of money if I believe it has even the slightest potential to do so. And even if I do happen to miss one now and then, there are hundreds of other agents out there who won't.