I've come to think of authors as a vast school of little, silver fishes endlessly circling in a vast ocean and hoping to be landed. The publishers, those huge sharks who take most of the risks and make most of the profits, usually pass us by. Editors, toothy barracudas who intimidate the authors into writing better books, come next in the hierachy. Then, the agents-I'd say they are remoras, but most of us don't make enough to feed a remora. No, agents have always seemed more like fishermen to me. They stand on the shore pulling in many fishes, throwing all but one or two back, seeming all-powerful.
Recently, I got a message from a young agent I'd approached. I was surprised to be on her mailing list since she'd turned me down pleasantly but firmly. She hadn't changed her mind, but rather was announcing the closure of her agency. I was sorry to hear that. Sometimes I forget if the publishers aren't taking on new clients, the younger agents don't thrive either. In the RWR magazine, nearly all the first sales have gone to e-pubs and small presses in the last year or so, no profit for agents there. Lots of casualities in this economy, and it is not only tough on us small fishes either.