Agents, Recruiters and Hiring Bosses!

I’ve been thinking about the difference between (writer) agents, recruiters and the hiring boss.

The biggest difference between agents (for writers) and recruiters is pretty straightforward. Unless the writer has a track record and has published novels or short stories or poetry, the agent is basically representing someone’s talent based on a sample of their work. Even if that sample is a completed manuscript, it’s still a sample. One book. They are taking a huge chance that the writer has something to sell. But no one knows who or what will sell. If agents knew what would sell, everyone would be an agent, and no one would have rejected J. K. Rowling. (Or Stephen King for that matter. Or anyone else. Hell, someone would create an expert system to figure out which novels would sell and which would not.) The recruiter, on the other hand, only has to place what he thinks is a person who can fill a role in a company.

Yes, I know, all an agent has to do is place a novel in the hands of a publisher who will publish it. Yeah, right, only. All. Ha! It takes a lot of work going through all of those novels and making and maintaining those contacts. Did I mention editing and writing letters to publishers and convincing the publishers to publish that work rather than another? And the audience is much smaller than the recruiter’s audience. There are fewer and fewer large publishers. (Every business can potentially use a recruiter’s services but not all companies are publishing houses.) The agent has to sell the work of his client to a third party and gets his money as a percentage of the income of his clients. The agent is closer to the consultant or broker than a recruiter. The recruiter has more opportunity to place people than agents have to place books. However, the agent also gets residuals. It’s a tough call.

Recruiters use technical people to vet technical consultants, contractors or a person looking for a job in technology. Agents have people to read the slush piles. (The consultant has the best of all worlds. They sell their ability and the promise of ability. They collect a paycheck and can walk away after the job is done. No one has skin in the game. The slush pile reader gets less money but also has a different set a responsibilities than the consultant.)

The hiring boss has the most skin in the game because he has to work with or manage the person he hires. One bad hiring mistake can ruin a team. The hiring boss does not make money depending on who he hires. The hiring boss is usually exempt from bonuses. (One company where I was the hiring boss, I did get some hiring bonuses or referral bonuses. Very sweet. I did a lot of skiing and eating out that year.)

The recruiter can place someone, collect his BIG check and leave. If the person does not work out, no skin off the recruiters nose. And if the placed person is a real dud and the client is a big one, the recruiter can kick back the fee, or part of the fee, or not. Because the recruiter can always fall back on the fact that the hiring boss made the final decision. THe recruiter is basically protected.

So, the second most skin in the game trophy goes to the agent. And third is the recruiter.

So, if you are a hiring boss, which I have been, a recruiter or an agent, I would like to hear from you. I have friends who are/were HR VPs and Presidents. I’d like to hear from you as well.


I don’t think I actually had a block of any sort, especially not a 24 hour block. Rather, I was immersed in sending out queries and sample chapters and manuscripts. So lovely. I still have to finish editing The Inn of the Star Crossed. I sent out The Inn at Market Snodsbury</em> to my editor for review.

With today’s technology, self publishing is very easy. But Amazon and other ePublishers only account for about 20% of the market. The rest is the traditional publishing houses. If that changes, then maybe the agent as facilitator will be a bigger deal than it is now. There are many traditional agents who also facilitate publishing eBooks.

So, what do I do at this point? Continue with the traditional or go off and publish my books myself and do my own marketing? People are urging me to self publish. That’s the question. Any answers? Thanks.

“I like shows but I don’t like the business.” — Gene Wilder talking to Alex Baldwin in an interview.

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