Words of Wisdom from Agent Nat Sobel

Nat Sobel, an agent at Sobol Weber Associates, was recently featured in a long interview in Poets & Writers magazine.  You can read the entire article here.  Below are some of the nuggets of wisdom and observation he passed on:

  • By and large, writers get responses much quicker today because of e-mail.
  • It’s much more difficult to get published if you’re a fiction writer.  There certainly is a very strong feeling in the publishing world that fiction is chancier – absolutely chancier – than nonfiction.  Today, you have to have all sorts of other reasons to publish a first novel – other than that it happens to be very good.
  • We keep hearing this phrase: What’s the platform?  (The first time I heard that word), I thought, What’s a platform?!  Well, what it is is this: What does the author bring to the table?  Talent is not enough.  
  • I think what is evolving today for agents is that they need to be the first line editors for their authors.
  • My great love, and where we’ve found most of our fiction writers, has been the literary journals.  I don’t know how many other agents read the journals.  I know it’s a lot more than it used to be, but I certainly read them more extensively than anyone else.



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7 thoughts on “Words of Wisdom from Agent Nat Sobel

  1. Dom

    The absurdities in this piece are amazing. While he says, "I think what is evolving today for agents is that they need to be the first line editors for their authors," he follows it with something so illigical that indicates he can not be trusted to find the trouble spots in another writer’s work, much less improve it. He says he has no idea how much other agents read literary journals. Given that, how does he know it’s a lot more than they used to read them or that he himself reads more literary journals than any other agent? Editing is not just about striking out adjectives automatically. (Why do so many agents have adjectivephopia?) Or fixing the punctuation. Why fix the mechanics on something that doesn’s make sense in the first place?

  2. Chris Lites

    I have a question for you, Chuck, or anyone else here: what exactly does a platform for a debut fiction writer look like?

    I know that non-fiction folks need them, but a novelist with a platform? OK, maybe a celebrity, but seriously? A platform to write a novel now? That’s absurd. If that is truth the industry is done. Completely, utterly unprepared for the advances in technology.


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