Agents versus Writers?


September 29, 2010 by Renee

On Twitter over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a trend that the little sidebar isn’t listing. Agents and writers getting…combative? Argumentative? Scrappy?

What? Yeah, I read a couple of blogs, noted the animosity, but didn’t really think it was a big deal. But apparently it is. I’ve noticed quite a few shots taken at Janet Reid lately, both on her Query Shark blog and on Twitter…and author blogs. Now, first, let’s think about this logically all you angry writers. Janet Reid has never pretended to be anything but the Shark. She’s snarky, blunt, sometimes nasty, sarcastic…and extremely fucking helpful to writers who have no clue what a query is. You’re surprised that her tweets are like her blog? You’re surprised she’d drop the f-bomb in a query critique? Are you mental? The f-bomb she dropped was intended as part of an encouraging statement. She was telling the writer to get a backbone and NOT be humble. Come on. She is what she is and I for one appreciate that. Personally, I’m far more suspicious of the syrupy sweet agents that randomly drop comments full of innuendo but no clear insult in between nauseating ‘I love writers’ posts. Give me an agent who will say “This sucks. Fix it.” Any day. Critics are a writer’s best friend. They keep us striving to do better, fighting to get those words just right, and they don’t give us the false sense of ‘oh, I am a great writer’ that does nothing for us. An agent who is not an unabashed critic is useless.

On to the next issue. Other agents, who shall remain nameless, (Sorry, but Reid has big shoulders and a backbone made of steel or whatever Superman is made of. She can handle the mention) have been making comments here, there, and everywhere that could be considered as less than professional. Writers don’t like this. Writers comment on this. Writers rant about this. I just can’t seem to work up a righteous indignation about it. Why? Because, seeing the infallible, oh so mystical, holier than all that is holy, agent fuck up makes them less intimidating. When I’m not intimidated, I tend not to fumble my words or do something stupid. That’s good. So, they’re human. Goodness, did you think they were gods? No? Oh, yes, they’re the Gatekeepers. Please. Let’s get a grip.

I’m the first one to pen a lengthy rant and vomit my fury all over the place when I’m pissed off. I’ve done this a lot. (I know, I’m subtle.) Recently I was really frustrated when a form rejection arrived not ten minutes after I’d queried. I let you all know about it too. Said agent is all over Twitter, tweeting about how busy they are and how they can’t believe the ridiculous queries they get, blah, blah, oh and how they ate a burnt piece of bacon last night at 5pm, anyone else love burnt bacon? See, my initial anger was that I felt this was unprofessional, rude and well, annoying. But after posting and reading replies, the cool voice of reason (thanks Maria) forced me to admit that said agent is human. How they tweet or reject has no direct bearing on how they do their job. They are a kickass agent. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t have the client list they have. So, I scrubbed their name of “The Naughty List” and I’ll send something else to them later.

Should agents begin commenting on my blog and on Twitter about the unprofessionalism of my posts? Goodness, I hope not. Or I’m screwed. In fact, most of us are screwed. Show me an unprofessional agent post and I’ll show you ten unprofessional writer posts.

The bottom line is that writers and agents work together. TOGETHER. The agent is not my boss. The agent doesn’t pay me. I am not the agent’s boss. The agent helps me. I give them something to sell that would earn both of us money, and if they like it, they say, “Yeah, I’ll try to find this a home.” Give and take. Our livelihoods depend on each other. We’re all human. We all have faults and goddammit Twitter is evil. It takes a saint to resist the urge to tweet about the broccoli stuck in your teeth. There shouldn’t be any animosity here. The fight is stuipid.

And believe me, when my Irish says it’s a stupid fight, it must be because my Irish loves a good quarrel.

Rant finished. I’m starving. Where did I put those Doritos?


9 thoughts on “Agents versus Writers?

  1. Renee Miller says:

    And ironically, I have a typo in the word 'stupid'. **sigh**

  2. Ref: Where did I put those Doritos?Oh, I'm sorry. Were those yours? :)I think the bottom line between agents, authors, editors and readers is to just show a little respect out there. Sometimes people begrudge even the barest of civility to one another. I've worked with plenty of people I didn't like, but that doesn't give me license to act like a jerk.

  3. Renee Miller says:

    You had my Doritos? Did you save me any? "I've worked with plenty of people I didn't like, but that doesn't give me license to act like a jerk." I like that. Thanks, Maria.

  4. Ref: Did you save me any? Of course. But I did polish off the hot sauce. –sorry.

  5. Renee Miller says:

    S'okay, hot sauce gives me gas.

  6. Mike Keyton says:

    Mind you, I have no time for agents who sit on a requested manuscript for a year, ignoring re-queries and then saying 'no it's not for me' with a weak apology for keeping it for so long

  7. Renee Miller says:

    That would be unprofessional. Wow, I'd lose it and I really don't see me waiting a year to hear from them, even if they said they were considering it. I don't have a lot of patience though. Did you tell them off? I'd have done that and then some.

  8. Rita J. Webb says:

    Could I have a handful of Doritos too?And are you telling me that agents really aren't gods? And here I was so certain…Don't mind me, my serious bone left. There's nothing left but silliness for me.

  9. Renee Miller says:

    I had to buy more. Maria ate the last bag, but sure you can have a handful. Don't worry about silliness, although I rarely indulge I don't mind if others are silly.

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I like to write stuff. Sometimes it's funny. I've published some novels and short fiction. I also battle an addiction to cake and potato chips, and I sometimes have inappropriate fantasies involving Kevin Spacey.

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