Change or Die
I was amazed at the comments on my Friday and Saturday posts, not just the number, but the depth, the passion and the thoughtfulness in many of them. It shows how diverse we all are, and how many different opinions and ideas we can have about the same topic. Again, I want to say I appreciate the feedback.
I was a little disconcerted, although not surprised, by several comments that suggested maybe I was against new developments in publishing because I was afraid of what it meant for literary agents, i.e. that the new publishing landscape wouldn’t include agents.
Speaking strictly for myself, I’m not against any new developments in publishing. But I do consider and try to think through how each change will affect both writers and readers. And there’s my point. I’m not as concerned about how these changes will affect agents. My post on Friday was truly about writers and readers.
I guess I find it vaguely insulting that some people assume I’m speaking from a place of self-interest. Is it so hard to believe that there was no hidden self-focused agenda for my ponderings?
I’m absolutely not afraid of the future of publishing. I’m well aware that the role of literary agents will change. I’m also aware that the role of many publishing employees will change. The roles of writers have been changing drastically in the last few years and will continue in that direction. Heck, people’s roles in countless industries have been changing rapidly as our technology changes, our economics change, the role of marketing changes, etc.
The fact is, no matter what you do, you’re going to have to embrace change at some point or you’re going to stagnate, fall behind, fail. To me that is such a “duh” concept. So it’s laughable that someone would think I question changes in publishing because I was afraid of what it will mean for me.
If you want to know the truth, I think it’s exciting. The future is wide open for people who are adaptable, creative, and forward-thinking. I can envision many different ways for agents’ roles to evolve, and I know most of my agent friends have been thinking about this, too. Perhaps there are some agents who have been doing this job for a few decades, and doing it the same way they did in 1975, and they’re not excited about changes that will mean they simply can’t do it the same way anymore. Maybe those people will not be able to adapt, I don’t know. Maybe they’re scared.
But that’s not the majority of agents I know. Most of us can think of twenty different ways our roles could morph into something related yet different. Those who are not interested in rolling with the changes are looking at the possibility of a different career down the road.
So don’t feel bad for all of us poor agents who may be out of a job in a few years. I’m fairly sure that the same skills that led us to be agents in the first place will serve us well as we each figure out our next step. With any luck, we’ll all still be in publishing. Somehow, some way.