Dear Miss Snark,
What do you think about agents who also write the same genre they represent? Is there conflict of interest there? Should a writer searching for an agent consider this a red flag, something to be avoided?Thank you! (leaving a pail of gin and some yummies for KY to express gratitude for your fun and informative blog. Sorry, I don't know George's phone number, or I'd offer that.)
Of COURSE there's a conflict of interest, but it's almost impossible to say so without sounding petty. Not that something like that even registers with Miss Snark of course. Agents who write in your genre may in fact be pretty good judges of what sells, but face facts: they're taking a spot on a publisher's list that could be a client's.
I can't imagine having a conversation like:
MS: Snark Central, you called, you talk
Client: I see you have a new mystery coming out from Ballantine in hardcover "Miss Snark Solves the Case of the Missing Query Letter".
MS: yes, yes, I do, and I'm going to invite you to my book launch party.
Client: was that the same editor who passed on my book "Miss Fox Murders A Hen"?
MS: yes, yes, but ...
Client: passed on it cause the list was FULL???
MS: yes, but really, the two things are not related
Client: expect my termination letter to be delivered via rock through the window. You haven't heard the last of me missy, you and your little dog too.
MS: boy, I hope that advance holds out for a year, I have no clients. KY! KY! Get your harmonica, we're going busking in the subway for kibble.
I think it's icky. I think book reviewers writing novels is worse and New York Times columnists and critics being reviewed in the Times and selected as Notable books is the worst, but it all falls under the icky umbrella.