Scouting Out Fresh Talent

I’ve been reading a lot of agents’ blogs lately. Not because I’ve suddenly changed my mind and decided to go the traditional publishing route, but because they’re interesting to read.

One thing I’ve noticed, though, is that in each case, the agent is asked (repeatedly…learn to search a site, people) if anyone in the editing business surfs around blogs, websites, and online writing groups looking for fresh talent. Every single time, the answer is that it’s not worth an agent, editor, or publisher’s time to swim through all the people who need to retake high school English to find one potential gem.

Okay, like everyone else, this group of people is very busy and would rather spend their time in other ways they view more productive. I can respect that.

Until I start thinking about other fields.

Scouts scour the country looking for the next great sports star. They take in a play, making sure to note and potentially contact someone who really stood out to them. They approach that one kid who always sings the solo for his church choir. They’re looking for fresh talent.

I’m pretty sure they have pretty busy schedules, too.

So if sports and entertainment can take a little time out of their schedule to check for potential up-and-comers, why can’t publishing? What makes them different? Is it a matter of tradition? Fear that people won’t want to approach writing, instead sitting around hoping for their big break? Fear that it’s giving up one more hallmark that will eventually unravel the publishing industry as a whole?

I suppose it might be a question to be posed to the agents I read. The worst that could happen is that one of them will dub me a nitwit, but seriously, that’s small potatoes after being told repeatedly by students that they hate me (even if they never mean it).

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