The Observer’s Leon Nayfakh catches up with former book editor Scott Moyers, now comfortably ensconced within the Wylie Agency as a literary agent. In the last month alone, Moyers has sold books to Doubleday, Scribner, Random House and the Penguin Press. Not a bad opening month, Neyfakh comments, though having worked as an editor at all four of those houses may have come in handy – as does working with the man famously known for poaching clients that his nickname, “The Jackal,” pretty much says it all.
Many of Moyers’ colleagues in the industry say they’re pleased for him about his new gig. But a few fear that between the personal loyalty that Moyers commands from many of the writers he’s edited, and Wylie’s formidable existing stable of talent (Philip Roth, Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis are but a few of the 600-plus author on the overall client list) and no-holds-barred recruiting tactics, the pair could create a juggernaut with the ability to raid the rosters of smaller competitors. Or, as one competitor puts it: “The question for Scott is, if you swim with the sharks, are you going to become one of the sharks?”
Not surprisingly, Moyers disagrees with any such notions. “I am not making it my business to think in those terms or be predatory,” he told Neyfakh. “There is so much good work to do. I think, like all agents, if something happens organically-if one is approached, if something makes sense, then so be it. I’m not going to be morbidly squeamish in a kind of way that doesn’t make sense. But I am going to be straightforward and open.” And he’s generally amused by any speculation about potential poaching and shark-swimming. “I thank them for their concern, for their solicitude. I’m moved by their empathy,” he said. “I ask them to give me a soul X-ray a year from now, and if I have black spots on the lungs of my soul, then, you know, they can just rush me to the infirmary and fill me up with drugs. But I somehow think it’s going to be okay.”