I had an idea to get myself a literary agent. It’s terrible to have to face book publishers on your own. I slave away for 10 hours a day for years on end, and they put my oeuvre in hard-cover only and slap a 150 dollar price-tag on it, to be read by exactly 17.5 people and reviewed by nobody. No, I don’t think I’m J.K. Rowling, but I do write in a reasonably accessible way and my Opium War book is intrinsically very exciting. What could be more fun to read about than an Oriental fairy-tale reduced to cinders by mean foreigners?
My idea was that an agent could help improve my odds. Writers with agents are not pathetic academic types; agents represent potential readers and potential readers represent money. Publishers like nothing as much as money. An agent would help me put my publisher in place.
The only problem is how to get an agent. I’ve been stalking a few of them on Twitter for the past couple of months now. Yet their feeds are not encouraging. One of them — best unnamed — insists that “I’m watching Downton Abbey with my wife,” and “have to stop the show every 90 seconds to explain something.” This is clearly not someone who would publish anything I write. So condescending to his wife! And over such as third-rate TV program!
Agents have the status they have to the extent that they possess the ability to represent the “general reader.” Agents are consequently middle-brow, by definition. They are the kinds of students, in other words, who we gave B pluses on the courses they took as they drifted through university some 10 years ago. And now they are getting their revenge, locking us up in our ivory towers.