Why You Want An Agent Who Reads

BelleBATBAgent Janet Reid wrote a great blog post about agent burnout among other things. One part that stuck with me was her comment about agents reading things that aren’t client work.

I can understand when writers see their agents talking on Twitter or Facebook about books that aren’t theirs and they think: “If they had spare time, why weren’t they reading my manuscript?” But one of the most important things an agent can do is read and READ A LOT.

Why you want an agent who reads:

1. They know what’s selling.

If we don’t read published books, how up-to-date is our taste? How do we know what is working in the market? I call it ‘cleansing the palate’ and it’s a much needed respite.

2. They know what’s successful.

Not only do we need to know what’s selling, we need to know what’s selling well. We follow the ‘best of’ lists, bestseller lists, and indie picks. We read bestsellers to know what makes it to the top.

3. They know what certain editors are excited about.

Editors send us stacks of books all the time. We read these to know what editors are working on and what gets them excited about projects. We also get to support our agent friends and read their clients books.

4. They take breaks from work.

Work life balance is not a joke. In order for us to stay enthusiastic about client projects and keep our sanity, we need to take a time-out every once and awhile–and we’re book lovers at heart.




Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

9 thoughts on “Why You Want An Agent Who Reads

  1. Makes sense. Everyone needs a break. Agents aren’t exempt from needing some R&R, whether it’s reading or running, and I think we writers sometimes forget this. Thanks for reminding us. I also agree that’s important to stay up-to-date on current trends.


  2. There’s a conundrum lurking in this article. The complaining authors presumably have survived the slush pile and the 95% (well, 99%) rejection rate, but now are making seemingly boneheaded complaints to the agents who have carefully selected them. Honestly, would any writer consider wanting an agent who doesn’t read?


  3. Of course you want an agent who reads for their own pleasure in their free time. If the Agent didn’t love to read, how could you trust them to be passionate about your – or anyone else’s – work? It’s like a telling a writer they shouldn’t be reading other people’s books, they should only spend time writing their own – fatal.


  4. I agree with Kristi. The best writers always encourage beginners the read and continue to do so as their career progresses. It also helps us not waste time writing something that won’t sell well in the market.


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