A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Solicitous Agents

Thoughts from Sammy, shabammy . . . .

You know what burns my ass? A flame about thigh high! Yeah, that, too. No, what really burns me are solicitous agents—you know, those who are so nice on their own blog but are probably real pains when you have to work with them. There is one, I won’t mention her name, but her blog is Agent 007. Whoops.

This person—I assume she’s a woman, but who knows?—I have to take her for word for that. Hell, she could be a German Shepard… or a gerbil, maybe, with its own blog, I don’t know. Anyway, it, he, she (let’s call her she) she says that in a prior life, she was an editor. Then a big light came on in the sky and an alien. ..whoops, different story. Before she became enlightened and joined the ranks of agent-dum—dum-dee-dum-dum duuuummmmm—she was an editor.

Anywho, I thought most of her earlier posts were solicitous, if you know what I mean. But in her current post (August 12), she rips into editor-dum, with a vengeance, and I’m kinda wondering which side of the sidewalk she’s now traveling.

I’m kinda wondering if she ever was an editor even, and if so, what kind? You know, I can self-publish, and lots of writers do, and during the process of self-publishing, as I’m editing my work, I become, for all practical purposes, an editor. Then when I’m finished and send my work in to the printer, again, for all practical purposes, I become a publisher. I could go on to producer and actor and whatever, but you get my drift.

My guess is that she wasn’t a very good editor or an editor at a very small house because, if so, why would she want to go from vacationland (editors have it made or haven’t you heard) to this profession where you have to work 18 hours a day and never get a vacation (at least I haven’t had one in years. And no, you can’t count that trip to Hawaii. That’s a writer’s conference, for God’s sake—or that trip to Italy either). I’ll get to editors on another post.

The other side of the coin is that if she’s doing so well as an agent, where does she find time to post a blog every day—man, this is work! But don’t pay any attention to me. I’m just asking questions here and solicitous agents burn my ass, remember?

I guess I am posting because it fries my hiney that there are agents out there pandering to writers. Jesus, as if writers need anyone else telling them how wonderful they are or "enlightening" them. If you don't know shit about the publishing industry and get your info from a blog, you really shouldn't be writing for publication. End of story.


  • At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Not to be a royal bitch, but I've only noticed this because I hang on to her every thoughtful, inspiring word: 007 does not blog everyday.

    And most writers want an agent whose heart, at least, is in the right place.

  • At 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, I really think you should find another line of work. You're so angry - do you want to have a heart attack at 40?

  • At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Who really knows who any of these supposed publishing insiders are, except maybe the insiders themselves and their few friends who might be in on the whole thing? The insiders seem to be posting anonymously, which IMO probably means we-on-the-outside have little to no idea what their work ethics are like, what their personalities on the job are like, what THEY are like as people.

    Personally, I don't feel I can tell much of anything about these bloggers "as agents in person" (assuming they are indeed agents) from simply reading their blogs (same thing probably goes for any other kind of person). Maybe they intentionally use their sites for venting, like the rest of us sometimes do. I'm hereby renaming the Internet as the Ventnet!

    One thing addressed to Sammy: you said that editors have it made??? Maybe you're being funny there. And maybe your comment is meant for a specific kind of editor, but, christ, I spent one year in-house as a lowly copy editor, and I got a one-week vacation; can't even remember now if that was a paid vacation. I had to do freelance work for the same company on both my lunch hour and at night at home because the pay was such shit--and that includes the surprising raise my boss gave me after only a few weeks of my working there (I'm a hard, competent worker). In my opinion and experience, publishing sucks money-wise for most editors.

  • At 8:59 PM, Blogger Libertarian Girl said…

    I don't know who Agent 007 is--not a clue, in fact--but I have no doubt whatsoever about her bona fides. Every post conveys (in spades) not just a real insider's knowledge of publishing--from nuts-and-bolts realities of how books get made to the subtle nuances of what editors' catch-alls actually mean--but also a bone-deep empathy for the fate of authors, and what I infer to be a genuine desire to give something back to the community of writers.

    What's really going on here, Sammy? The personal nature of this attack makes one wonder if what's really burning your ass is that maybe you pitched something to 007, and she didn't respond to as enthusiastically as you'd hoped...

  • At 7:56 AM, Blogger SammyK said…

    Max, you surprise me, and that takes a lot. I would expect this type of response from other folks, but it really doesn't mesh with comments you yourself have made. Where's the real Mad Max?

    For example, while it is nice to have a laugh at the following:
    "...subtle nuances of what editors' catch-alls actually mean" the truth is this: If you get a rejection with no offer for revision, just mark it off your list and move on. They didn't want for whatever reason, doesn't really matter. Writers who depend on knowing what those rejections really mean and crave editor feedback to polish their writing are on the wrong track. Your writing should be beyond that before you submit it.

    Also, giving writers, or anyone for that matter, an honest assessment of an industry is going to help them way more than "an insider's look" because every insider's look is from his/her own unique perspective.

  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    To anonymous: Good luck on finding one of those agents. Most carry their hearts a lot lower

  • At 5:28 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    To Atl Girl: It's saddnes that you see, not anger--well maybe a little. There is so must talent out there but no one wants to take the time to develope it. They just want to make money and there is no money in true art.

  • At 5:32 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    To Fran: You said Lowly Copy Editor. I was referring to acquision editors--or did I already say that? Any entry level position means working your butt off. But, in your observations, were those around you working as hard as you were?

  • At 5:34 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    Another for Anonymous: (oh you lucky girl) Just because Oh Oh seven does not post every day gives her validity? Hummm. I don't post every day either. Anything else?

  • At 6:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe you don't agree, but in my opinion and experience (for what that's worth, which may not be much), most employees of all kinds working inside publishing houses are overworked and underpaid. I worked at a large nonfiction house--maybe that's a bit different than fiction houses or combos? Maybe there are more glorified, higher paid fiction editors (possibly both on the acquisitions and copy-editing sides) than nonfiction editors?

    I think there's a difference between working hard and being competent, being good at what you do. Actually, I do work very hard in whatever I may do--too hard usually, till I make myself physically sick. So, yeah, I probably was working harder than some of my co-workers (at least my boss seemed to have thought so with that quick raise, he also wrote me an excellent recommendation years later).

    But I said I was competent too. Don't mean to brag; it's just this thing I have, this bad habit of wanting to be competent all over the place. Like I value competence a lot, in myself and others. I also tend to be faster than others when I do something. Not everyone working inside publishing is necessarily competent--I think a lot of people in publishing aren't, to tell you the truth. That it seemingly isn't a profession many people train for but somehow wind up working in any way may be partly responsible for the excessive incompetence that can seem to pervade the industry....

  • At 2:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "The other side of the coin is that if she’s doing so well as an agent, where does she find time to post a blog every day—man, this is work! But don’t pay any attention to me. I’m just asking questions here and solicitous agents burn my ass, remember?"

    -And I'm just answering questions, sweetie.


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