A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

You Get What You Pay For

Many writers are cheap. They want to throw words on paper, call it a masterpiece, have someone read it, edit it, market it, and give them feedback and lots of money in the form of an outrageous advance (so they can brag to their friends) while they contribute nothing, monetarily or intellectually, to the process.

Most professions, including mine, require some sort of expertise. Yeah, I know the writer’s adage that anyone can be an agent—there’s no test and all you have to do is say you’re an agent, and man, you are one. But dude, are you, really? (Cortez, dude, that’s for you) Many try, some are in jail, but most just disappear after a year or so of dismal failure. They are kind of like hack publishers who disappear the same way. The capitalistic system is cruel to those with no talent or ability. It’s its way of cleansing itself.

Oh, the horror--these agent failures take innocent writers with them when they crash and burn! The terms “innocent” and “writers” are misused here. Babies are innocent. Most writers are greedy, either for power, recognition, or money, and not that many are innocent, especially when they try to send me shit and hype their way onto my client list. Writers are those who can actually write. As in, they can produce a piece of writing that people want to read. In most cases, those who crashed and burned were probably not on the road to success anyway, and they probably signed with an agent thinking their book was going to get published the very next day; therefore, maybe they were innocent in some respect, but they were also stupid to believe that books get placed overnight.

So, what’s the secret to success? One of the many little secrets is to be aware of what has commercial appeal and what doesn’t. Try reading something. If you are one of the cheap-asses I have been talking about, try the library. You know, that big building in or near your city that houses books people might actually read, unlike bookstores that shelve anything the majors (okay, and technically me, too, indirectly, though) tell them to.

God, writers are cheap.


  • At 1:00 AM, Blogger Peter L. Winkler said…

    If most writers are greedy, what are most agents-altruists?

    Your blog repeatedly exhibits enormous scorn and hostility towards writers.

    Your blog reminds me of a scene in the great film The Harder They Fall. Humphrey Bogart tells an unscrupulous manager of boxers:

    "If fighters are dirt, what are managers made of? Without fighters, you're nothing."

    Agents are salesmen. Nothing more. Stop acting like you're shit don't stink. Publishing existed before agents. What do you contribute, intellectually or otherwise to the process, except to pad your wallet?

    I have yet to read anything insightful about writing, agenting, or publishing on your blog. You alternate between rants belaboring stale observations about publishing with your
    hotcha stuff about your sex life. And you snipe at other agents.

  • At 12:46 PM, Blogger SammyK said…

    Mr. Winkler:

    No, most agents are human. I'm not hostile toward writers, only pretend writers. You remind me of the line from Sex in the City, "I hate men, where can I find one." If pretend writers weren't so damned lazy, more knowledgable, and talented, they wouldn't need agents. But unfortunately, large publishers grew tired of shoveling their shit and assigned agents the task. Learn to write well and the primary need for agents will disappear--Of course writers, the real kind, will still need our help at contract time.

    Agents are shit filters first and salesmen second.

    Yup, and publishing existed before wannabees too. I pad my wallet because I understand things that you never will understand and contribute in the same manner. Knowledge is power, or has that fact escaped you.

    You have to dig for the insight here, I'm not going to spoonfeed it to you. My blog gives you a choice between solicitation or I don't give a shit. Apparently you liked to be praised and cuddled. This is not a praise and cuddle blog. This is tell it like it is blog and if you don't like it, don't visit.

  • At 1:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Everyone in publishing is greedy, and getting greedier, if you ask me. Nobody seems to remember that without R-E-A-D-E-R-S, none of you folks, or me, would have a job. I get a hoot out of writing, but what's the point if no one but me reads it?

  • At 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I am not standing up for the schmuck who writes this blog, but at least on here I get to live vicariously through his sexual escapades. Personally, I think the gratuatous(SP?) sex is good, and a little scorn for wannabees who clog up the system and take an editor’s attention away from MY work is well overdue. Assholes.

  • At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why shouldn't I get a huge advance if my book is going to change lives? Hmmm? I deserve something for all my years of hard work, don't I? What's wrong with a huge advance? Most publishers have more money than they know what to do with anyway, so I don't think it is too much to ask for a large advance.


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