I read a few blogs this week, all posing the same question. Should we have empathy for literary agents?
Personally, I do. Which is surprising since I don't have one. Like many thousands of other authors, and aspiring ones, I've received a generic rejection letter, or just been ignored on many occasions.
So why would I empathise with them? Let me explain; in my life before becoming a full time writer, I worked in the finance world. I underwrote personal loans, and mortgages. But please don't blame me for the state the world is in, I left before it all went wrong.
Now when a prospective client applied for a finance product, firstly I'd: examine the completed loan/mortgage application form. Agent: reads query letter. Secondly: credit score. Agent: reads synopsis/ 5pages. Thirdly: examine wage slips, rent/mortgage payments etc. Agent: reads full, or partial ms.
Fourthly: decided if it made good business sense to do, and did it fit company business model. Approve/decline finance. Agent: decides if it makes good business sense to do, and does it fit company/their business model. Offer/ reject representation.
My decision to approve finance was made on what I had in front of me, and an agent can only do the same. That decision is based on, bottom line, about making money.
It doesn't mean there isn't an agent out there for you, or me. Just as when I declined a finance product it didn't mean that the customer would never get a loan/mortgage. But it it has to make business sense for the agent. They're not a charity. That's why I empathise.
Do you empathise?