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'A stranglehold on our industry'

11 September 2006

'Another factor stifling new talent in this country is the agent-publisher model. Agents take on authors whom they think have commercial potential, spruce them up a bit and then tout them round the publishing houses looking for the highest bidder. Some agents have such big reputations that editors will drop everything to attend to their submissions. As a system it can work well and has produced many of the best books of the past 20 years, but it is such an established arrangement that it has a stranglehold on our industry. We have reached a point where many big publishers source 95 per cent of their new books from agents and many of those agents will no longer view unsolicited work. When you have such a rich seam of new writing in this country, much of it just a few clicks away on the internet, this is a travesty.'

Scott Pack, former buying manager at Waterstone's and now with the Friday Project, in The Times