Literary agent webinars: dream makers or advantage takers?


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.

2 thoughts on “Literary agent webinars: dream makers or advantage takers?

  1. Those events ARE tempting, aren’t they? I follow some agents on Twitter, I read one agent’s blog, and I even bought another agent’s book. All of those things have provided great advice (and the book was only about $20, so it wasn’t a big deal). I think the most tempting part about those webinar events, though, is the chance to ask your very own question (possibly even using your own real life example) to get a clear answer — hopefully! But, like you said, that could easily be how someone could take advantage of our dreams of publication.

    For now, I’m going to stick with the free advice online (or the low cost advice in a book or short workshop), but I know that I’ll be tempted to take one of those webinars at some point. They probably also range from Truly Helpful to Truly Terrible, but the main question I’ll ask myself is this: Have I exhausted all of my other avenues and really want this extra advice, or am I hoping for a quick fix (aka a magical stepping stone)? It can take time to find answers online, it can take years to write a book, and it can take who-knows-how-long to get it published. I find that those webinars become more tempting the more I start to think about how I want to see my book all polished and pretty and book-like before I turn 102. 😉

  2. Thanks Alison, that is some very balanced advice. I think that’s a really good way of deciding, by asking yourself if you have exhausted all other avenues. I have to say I did purchase an on-demand webinar on querying and while it was useful, the purchase price was pretty high so that I felt like I was paying $50 for each take away tip that resonated for me. I felt a little burned by it–hence my post. Your comments are a good reminder of how to approach things so I don’t wind up with that sentiment again, but also don’t miss out on some good resources.

    102! I know!!

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