Why Literary Agents?

Why do some professions — movie acting, book writing, playing sports — make use of the agents? Is it because a lot of money is potentially earned from these people’s work? Why then don’t CEOs, investment bankers, and hedge fund managers have agents? Is it because there’s a long lag between the agreement to enter into an employment relationship (with publishers, film studios, sports clubs) and the work (book, movie, performance) actually producing an income stream? Shouldn’t painters, architects, and big construction firms also have agents then? Is it because of the project-to-project aspect of these professions? It cannot be because freelancers, interior designers, and architects too work from project to project, and they don’t have agents. Moreover, most sports players actually sign multi-year, long-term contracts and not a project (one game, one season) deal. Is it because actors, writers, and sports figures need a combination of lawyer-ly advice, advertising, and hand-holding that other professionals do not demand? But doesn’t everybody want their hands held, for others to trumpet their virtues, and to make savvy business decisions?

Maybe the question should be instead “Why doesn’t everybody have an agent?”, but I’d prefer to have my original question answered. Why literary agents?

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