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On cocktails

July 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Galleycat informs us of a new literary libation, named the Literary Agent. This is, apparently, something of a cross between a Whiskey Sour and a Hemingway Daiquiri, but I don’t care about that.

What I care about is the first sentence of that post at Galleycat, a sentence that reminds me of why I’m glad not to be writing in the States, where nowadays (they say) you’re sunk unless you can find an agent.

That sentence is: “Literary agents are like rock stars in the world of writers, and one food blog has finally built a drink to honor these bookish representatives.”

Let me repeat that first clause, in case the horror is slow to creep upon you: “Literary agents are like rock stars in the world of writers.”

The economics of writing and publishing are quite insane. In terms of supply and demand, we have a small demand for books, a publishing industry that gluts the market with many more books than it demands, agents who in turn glut publishers with many more proposals than they require, and finally, a zillion would-be writers who glut the agents’ inboxes with many more manuscripts than they want to consider, most of which should promptly be burned as a service to humanity.

The consequence of this insane economics is that the business relationships are skewed, and we forget who’s working for whom. Agents are not stars. It’s a business, and they provide services in exchange for money, while their clients hum the opening bars of Bob Dylan’s “Positively Fourth Street.”

And I’m not sure about that cocktail, either. I mean, if you’re going to have a drink called “The Literary Agent,” I think the specifications are simple: it should open with great promise and floral overtones, lead into a long, bitter finish, and then drop you in the gutter with a bad taste in your mouth.

Recipe suggestions are welcome.

Categories: publishing, writing
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