“Established agents are reluctant to represent first-timers,” they’ll tell you, or “The kind of agent you can get before you’ve published anything isn’t the kind of agent you’d want.” It’s no coincidence that the people who say this are often older writers who got their start before the mid-1980’s, when the merger mania that has so drastically transformed the publishing industry really took off. Many of those older publishers survive only as imprints of huge conglomerates.
This advice reflects their own experience during a time when most publishers were what we today would consider independent presses, and it wasn’t difficult to get a manuscript in over the transom. The staff downsizing that has accompanied the mergers has resulted in fewer editors, even as publishers churn out an ever-increasing number of books.
There are still many small presses that will happily look at manuscripts from unagented writers–but if your goal is to sell to one of the big houses or larger independents, your chances are best if you’re represented by a reputable literary agent.
An agent’s job doesn’t end with the first sale, either.
Question: "What is the difference between dating and courting?
Courtship takes the position that the two people have no physical contact at all (no touching, no hand-holding, no kissing) until marriage.Sifting through the slush pile, once an editor’s job, has mostly been delegated to agents, who are now the first line of gatekeeping for much of the publishing industry.Many large publishers’ imprints are now entirely closed to unagented work, and the dwindling number of imprints that do accept unagented submissions give them minimal priority.[on Joaquin Phoenix's first reading for/ acting in Her (2013)] I loved him...[He was] all instinct [and] when something felt weird, when Joaquin was uncomfortable with something, I knew it meant there was some place I had cheated or hadn't thought through or hadn't gone deep enough. I'm always amazed when any actor can decipher my direction. Has directed two actors and two actresses to a Oscar Nomination - Catherine Keener (Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Being John Malkovich (1999)), Chris Cooper (Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Adaptation.(2002), Meryl Streep (Best Actress in a Supporting Role, Adaptation.