Guernica speaks with literary agent Chris Parris-Lamb, who built a career around selling Chad Harbach‘s debut novel The Art of Fielding for a reported $665,000. Since then, he has sold novels like Wolf In White Van and coming later this year, City of Fire, a 900-page tome for a rumored seven-figure sale. But Parris-Lamb was not always a diviner of the marketplace. At one point, he even thought literary agents were responsible for publishing rather than selling novels:
I just honestly assumed that’s what literary agents did. What else were they doing, if they weren’t publishing books? So that wasn’t a great start to the interview. I also remember being really stressed-out, during that interview, that I’d never heard of any of the writers that were on the shelves. It had never occurred to me, you know, that there were writers I hadn’t heard of—thousands of them. The idea that there was this big marketplace in which some books got attention and others didn’t? That had just never occurred to me.