Interesting post on Nathan Bransford’s blogs about the reasonableness of agent preferences.
He’s correct, of course (except for the bad agents and the scammers, but that’s a different issue), but doesn’t address at least one underlying problem: getting an agent means selling the manuscript, a job that is nothing like writing a novel. The skill sets are entirely different.
I won’t go so far as to say they’re mutually exclusive, but the introspection and sensitivity that goes into many novels is a liability when you’re trying to convince somebody to put out actual dollars on the gamble that other people will put down actual dollars to buy something you wrote. They take different perspectives, different knowledge, different approaches. Some writers are very good at both. Many if not most aren’t. Most of us have to learn about building platform, presenting a persona, tying different facets together, and all the other tasks that go to making “author” a brand name in the eyes of the reader.
The task seems less daunting when I think of it as something separate from the writing. When writer-me thinks about platforms, I want to go hide under the bed. If I shift mind-set, it’s not so bad.