I received several notices about webinars offering ‘exclusive’ access to literary agents in my email this week. I’m not sure whether to be excited—or irritated.
When I was fourteen my mother made me an appointment to see a modeling agent. The agent’s name was Dyan and after taking my photo and measurements she apparently decided that my body and face fit into the fashion industry’s beauty standards and offered me a contract.
It seemed like a pretty straightforward entry point at the time—only after being in it for several years did I learn about modeling courses and camps that charged exorbitant fees to ‘train’ girls in said profession so that they could show off their skills to an exclusive audience of industry agents. Considering that the primary determiner of a girls ability to land contracts in the modeling world–face, dimensions, height–are not things that can be learned, these girls were essentially paying $1000 to do something they could have done for free: see an agent. Of course, people do crazy things when they want something bad enough–I know I did.
Now, so many years later I can’t help but wonder if the same thing is happening in the context of a different kind of dream: publication. Sure, the literary agent webinars offer valuable query letter critique, but frankly, there are discussion boards that offer that kind of service–and for free. I’m sure I’m not alone when I confess that the primary reason I have been contemplating dropping a couple hundred bucks for one of these sessions is to be able to access an agent.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe these webinars are a valuable opportunity that I should be grateful for—or maybe once again, our dreams are being exploited.
If anyone has accessed one of this events I would love to hear your thoughts.