My literary agent made a polite and sincere request that I remove her contact information from my website. Yes, she is still my agent, and yes, everything is fine. But it brings up something I talk about when aspiring writers ask me about the industry.

There are approximately 6 major corporations that control the publishing industry. Each has dozens of imprints, causing the general public to assume there are more major players than there really are.

In order for your work to even be seen and considered by any of these companies, you must retain a literary agent. Agents have replaced “readers” – lower level employees publishers had on their payrolls back in olden days. The agent is the first line of defense against the ever-raging sea of the written word.

There are, perhaps, 1,200 legit, active literary agents currently working. Despite this fairly large number, getting one is nearly impossible. Everyone on the planet aspires to write the great American novel. Each day, each of these agents receives a few dozen queries – requests for the agent to look over a writer’s work. Do the math. That’s a lot of manuscripts.

Thus, while people in other businesses are dying for customers, literary agents wish they had less to choose from for the sake of their simple sanity. More agents would not be the answer either. Many of those 1,200 barely make a living at it.

And so, many good agents have taken to trying to remove, rather than include, their contact info from various locations and publications. Each new posting only means a new surge of material they have little time to get to. Is the next Harry Potter in that big slush pile? Perhaps. But it’s almost become physically and financially impossible to know.

Consequently, I now assist my agent as she joins the Literary Witness Protection Program.