Monday, August 21, 2006

If Literary Agents were like Real Estate Agents

My agent and I finished one pitcher of margaritas in the New York summer sun. This is the result of our sloshy silliness. At least, this is what I could decipher from the scribblings on our cocktail napkins.

  • If you called ten agents and said you had something you wanted them to sell, you'd get ten returned calls. Within the hour.
  • After reading a 95-page booklet and taking an exam, a person would be fully qualified to be a successful literary agent.
  • Writer's Digest would consist of 26 volumes--at 1,300 pages apiece.
  • New York editors would be inundated with approximately 9,890% more crap submissions than their current load of crap submissions.
  • Literary agents would don silly slogans, like Sell it quick? Call McCormick! or You can bank on Bankoff or Nesbit knows Nonfiction or Call Denise "Six Figure" Shannon today! (We came up with 37 of these; I'll spare you the superfluity).
  • Instead of every book being "the best book I've read all year", agents would be significantly more honest, with most projects being touted as "needs updating" and "fixer-upper".
  • Annual conventions would invoke boring day seminars and excessive after hours drinking (no significant change).
  • Owners would feel the agent was not doing enough to sell the product (no significant change).
  • Financing would regularly be a problem on the part of the purchaser (no significant change).
  • The longer the product stays on the market, the less likely it is to sell (no significant change).
  • The top five percent of all agents would sell 95% of all product (no significant change.)
  • There would be an entire cable television network dedicated to the writing, editing, producing, and selling of books--including a reality-based show called Rising Editor and a weekly documentary called Flip This P&L.
  • One word: minivans.
  • Free glossy magazines would fill countless bins outside coffee shops and subway stations around the country with covers of books inside, many with the term sold overtop the cover--though more likely not.
  • Production time for a 300 page novel: 7.5 years.
  • Random House would have call centers to handle incoming traffic the size of Capital One.
  • Binky Urban's calls would somehow get returned within 45 seconds (no significant change).

Granted, these are probably funnier with the tequila. And a lot of extra salt.