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Disgruntled writer offers literary agents a raise

The Guardian‘s weekend edition features an opinion piece by writer and filmmaker Martin Wagner, who is obviously still stinging from the rejection letters he received from agents as a young novelist. The crux of the piece is his argument that in the relationship between writers, agents, and publishers, it is the writer – the “lifeblood”of the industry – who most consistently gets screwed.

The piece also serves as a platform for Wagner to promote his play The Agent, which satirizes the industry and is currently being adapted into a feature film. However, given his evident distaste for agents – whom he describes as “vultures” – his suggestion for improving the situation is a little surprising.

Maybe one of the problems is that agents simply don’t get paid enough? While a 15 per cent commission is plenty if you’re representing a J.K. Rowling, what about 15 per cent of an author who could reasonably call himself a success if he got an advance of £2,000 for his first novel – a mere £300 for his agent?

Which raises the question of what a “reasonably” successful author is supposed to do with a (less than) £1,700 advance per novel – but we’ll put that aside for now. In the meantime, Quillblog welcomes any other suggestions to improve author-agent relations.