I thought the post on the link at the bottom of this page was interesting. Good lit agents work with a writer if the ms is promising, but a bit rough around the edges. It takes a lot of time to review and make suggestions, and even more time if the writer is a stubborn goat. (No offense to goats intended.)
It's maddening to spend the time and tell a writer exactly what they need to fix to make their ms competitive, at least as competitive as possible, only to have them argue the point and not budge.
It is time lost that could be spent with an equally good product and a much more willing writer.
So the question has been raised, in the link below, should lit agents charge for this service; for content editing? They charge for messenger service and such, but not ever for reading. I don't think they should charge for reading, that is part of their job. However, it takes hours and hours to work with someone to flesh out a ms, usually belonging to a debut writer. Content editing is a different process than reading to offer a contract, or not.
I am still thinking this one over, but I'm leaning toward the idea of charging a fee for content editing. These people do know the industry and what is being bought at the moment, as well as the particular interests of specific acquisition editors at various publishing houses.
The reason I'm leaning in favor of the lit agents charging for this particular services is that they could be, as I said, working with an ms that needs less work. If they could know that the time spent fleshing out promising mss was not lost, then we might see a lower rejection rate. They might accept more mss, if they knew it wouldn't be a total loss to take a chance.
Isn't that what every writer wants -- someone to take a chance on them and their ms? Who knows, some of the passed up mss might be exactly what the acquisition editors want or more importantly, what readers would like (given the opportunity) to read - if lit agents could afford to invest the time in them.
Decide for yourself. Here's the link: http://www.idealog.com/blog/literary-agents-and-the-changing-world-of-trade-publishing