The authors are talking about agents. Questions will be asked, answers will be given, and I'll record the good bits.
Authors - Janette Rallison, Brandon Sanderson, Jeff Savage, James Dashner
Brandon says anybody can be an agent, or rather can say they are an agent, but you should watch out for somebody who has represented successful books. It's also nice to find an agent that fits your genre.
What does an agent do? Janette says that publishers want to give you a contract that is in their best interest, and agent is there to make sure that you get treated fairly.
Brandon is a big advocate of going to conferences, meeting agents and publishers, and being out there.
The question was asked about publishing houses only looking at manuscripts submitted by an agent. All of the authors say that while you can get published without an agent, an agent will often get a quicker response, or have a better idea of who to send things to. Brandon said he had his manuscript at Tor for 18 months, and when he submitted his YA idea, he had responses back in 3 weeks.
Somebody asked if you choose door number one, and Monty Hall shows you that nothing is behind door number three, are your odds better to switch to door number two, or stick with one? Nobody was sure. The answer is switch to two.
What are the formal steps to finding an agent? James says the old fashioned way is to send out query letters, send out chapters, send entire book.
Brandon mentioned a few places that let you 'check up' on whether or not your agent is a good one. I missed them, unfortunately. I think one was this site.
Janette says that big publishers don't market your book. You are pretty much responsible for your own marketing/promoting.