I appreciate your post – it's thoughtful, certainly – but I respectfully disagree. You've almost reduced the agent solely to the contract: it's a vibrant moment, but one bookended by so many other factors: submission, revision, managing editor relationships, the publicist, budgets for travel / appearances – which can appear at the last minute – even generating industry interest in a new writer. He has contacts and relationships I don't, and is able to massage a whole network of people that are beyond my keen. And, oh, yes, he does an excellent job of keeping my inflatable ego right sized.
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