Today I had lunch with an editor and we chit chatted (aka gossiped) about people in the industry. As you might recall, I work in marketing, but my long term goal is to transition into editorial and eventually agenting; whichever comes first, really. I interned at an agency a couple years back and loved it. Agenting is tough work, but ultimately rewarding, if you enjoy the combination of the creative and business sides of the industry. Once you've worked your way up from the junior levels to focus on your own client list, you have an amazing amount of freedom (and stress, too) to shape the careers of your writers.
Talking to my editor friend and other editors, I've noticed that agents aren't always looked on too fondly, though. Unfortunately, there are far too many agents who are...a wee bit aggressive, to put it politely. Or to put it impolitely, jerks. Those are the agents that view client-editor negotiation with an "us vs them" mentality. And once the deal is struck, they're the ones who don't know how to back off to give the editor room to do his work.
As a future agent, I get that an agent wants the best deal for his client. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do it, the latter involving attack mode. Good agents know the difference.
Not-so-nice agents aside, there are plenty of agents who do a fantastic job of keeping both the editors and their clients happy (We just don't talk about them as much, since the not-so-nice ones stick out more, sorry).
If you're an aspiring writer who's new to the publishing biz, you might wonder, Well, how do I find me some good agents? There's a lot of info out there, so I understand the quandary. You can always check Preditors & Editors for the basics, of course, but a great site that comes to mind is Literary Rambles. Literary intern Casey McCormick and aspiring children's writer Natalie Aguirre have taken the time to profile literary agents (do these bloggers even sleep?).
Literary Rambles is a helpful site, as is Pub Rants, a blog written by super agent Kristin Nelson (a dream agent of mine, if I were ever published!). Another site that rocks is former agent turned author Nathan Bransford's blog.
Hmmm...I might have to do a post where I compile my favorite industry-related blogs. Either way, those four are a good start!