A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Saturday, August 27, 2005

A Philosophical Moment

This used to be the time, back in the old radio days when the announcer would say (they used to call DJs announcers), “We pause here for station identification.” Hell, maybe they still do that. I haven’t listened to radio for years.

To respond to one of the commenters on another site who said (I am paraphrasing here): I wish someone would, on one of these blogs, give us (writers) a real peek inside the publishing industry.

My answer is: To get the straight poop on publishing (not to be confused with “poop on publishing”), go to college, get a job in publishing as an assistant editor or as an assistant agent and work inside the industry for awhile. This way you’ll get the true picture of this industry. For instance, if I was a policeman, I could “tell” you how it is to be a policeman, but to truly understand police work, you have to be a cop—on the inside. You would have to go to the academy.

It tickles me how some writers want all the hard answers the easy way. Some people get a non-writing job, being a lawyer for instance, and make large sums of money most of their lives. Then one day they decide to be a “writah” and want all the answers to getting published right now without getting their hands dirty down in the trenches. Try earning low pay for a long time in an industry that is notorious for low pay. Dig through writer wannabe droppings day in and day out and work your way up, then you’ll know. You expect instant entrance and then bitch because no one will let you in. As a writer, try writing because you love it and don’t want to do anything else. Educate yourself and take your knocks like everyone else in any industry. There is no easy way to learn about publishing or writing for a living. Don’t even ask. I worked in shit for years before making it—that’s how it used to be done and still is done for those who are really IN the industry.

Then there are the writers who adore the look 007 is giving them into the business that they want. Maybe 007 is giving you the business, is what you should be saying. Maybe she and all the other agents who dispense “knowledge” for free are priming you so they can write their blog books (the most recent trend in publishing). That’s how it’s done nowadays, haven’t you heard? Did any of you consider that? It is called building an audience--there’s a small glimpse inside the industry for you. Is that my reason? Nope, already did a book for writers, some of you may have read it already and maybe even liked it. Or not. Royalties are damn good; that’s all I know. I am not picking on 007 intentionally, but it just occurred to me to post when I read her blog and it was a good example of what I rail against.

Someone else asked if I was angry. No. Disillusioned would be a better word. Why am I disillusioned? I do look at queries occasionally, by the way, and what I see makes me sick most of the time. At times it’s all I can do to write a polite note. I want to scream at you. How can you insult me with this garbage, is what I want to say. But I bite my lip and write something short, like the standard, “This is not for me.” Most of you, 99.9% of you, 99.9% of the time don’t even deserve to carry a writer’s notebook let alone call yourself a writer. Get a clue and stop the nonsense. Being a writer is probably the lowest paying job in the United States. Most writers qualify for welfare and food stamps. It’s only the few that you hear about who are making it--Dan Brown (don't get me started on that disaster of a book), for example. True writers write for only one reason—they have no choice. They must write. They don’t care if they don’t get paid—they have to write. You got it now. If you do it for any other reason, YOU MAKA ME ANGRY!!

But venting, the true reason for blogging, helps a hell of a lot.*wicked, engaging grin*


  • At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "Maybe she and all the other agents who dispense "knowledge" for free are priming you so they can write their blog books (the most recent trend in publishing). That's how it's done nowadays, haven't you heard? Did any of you consider that?"

    --Yep, I've considered it. But it's pretty irrelevant to me. I only read there (and now here) to see what's happening conversation-wise. I've been running out of places to read on the web; I don't last long at reading most.

    Just one more thing: you probably already know this, but if venting's all you're interested in, you can turn off Blogger comments in various ways and at various times. For example, the bottom of the "Create Post" screen asks if you want to allow new comments.

    Happy venting,


  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger Jeff said…


    Thanks for being honest. I wrote a play a few years back and Ed Bullins (head of the drama dept. of Northeastern University) basically told me to go fuck myself. Later that same day, shellshocked and dejected, Edward Albee spoke to the gathered playwrights and told us if you have a point to make(which I did), and you piss people off, than they probably need to be pissed off. Writers need objective criticism, not bullshit so they can have their own ray of sunshine beaming from their pooper.

  • At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Beware when bosses and blogs collide
    Heather B. Armstrong disdained her "insane" coworkers, so she vented online -- an act that led her to the unemployment line.
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  • At 10:02 PM, Blogger TJ said…

    thank you--dan brown isn't that great.

  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger Twanna A. Hines | FUNKYBROWNCHICK.com said…

    You wrote: "[V]enting, [is] the true reason for blogging..."

    Sooooooooo true :)


  • At 5:40 AM, Blogger Bernita said…

    Frankly, I don't give a sweetgoddamn about what goes on inside the industry, unless it pertains to how I might help a publisher market my book.

  • At 7:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Blogger, you are too, too transparent. Get a day job.

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