A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Monday, October 24, 2005

I Got This Feeling Like Someone is Watching Me

So I get home and on my e-mail is some watch group crackhead wanting me to send him an updated list of sales. If I don’t, he admonished, he would have to tell writers about my “nonexistent” sales record. Here is the irony: I have been a part of more best-sellers than I can remember, and this dumbass can’t apparently find the sales record. And HE threatens ME with exposure! Who is this fucking person? What a dumbfuck. I should expose him right here for not having the brains to find a big old elephant in a tiny little room. However, I am too much of a gentleman. So I e-mailed and told him to fuck off.

But that is typical for watch groups like Writer Beware and Preditors and Editors, among others. One of the major problems in the industry is that any schmuck can start a site to “help” writers (and I agree, wannabes need LOTS of help, but none of these sites offer lobotomies, so they are useless). Usually it is for techniques for avoiding scammers. They should look in the mirror. Do you know some of these sites actually recommend publishers and agents who are scammers, or just plain incompetent? Some even sponsor (by which I mean donate money to)sites that take in revenue from advertising services for hire for writers. Either they are completely clueless or on someone’s payroll somewhere. As I have mentioned before, what qualifies these folks as watch dogs? What qualifies anyone as a watchdog?

The problem I have with all watch groups is that they encourage mediocre and plain old crappy writers by intimating that it isn’t your shitty writing that is holding you back, but all those nasty people cheating you. Oh my God, everyone is a scammer! Here is how that shit works: As long as you scare the shit out of writers, they will keep coming to you for protection and advice, and you remain in control. I have met some of the nasty motherfuckers who run these watch groups, and they are arrogant, unpleasant, and feed off of the power they get from being in the know. They stretch the truth to make themselves look righteous. They lie, they stalk, and their information is iffy at best. Hell, I know ministers I would trust more, and, for me, that is saying a lot.

This helps writers how? In short, it doesn’t.

Here is what you need to know:

1. If you have tried all the legitimate agents and everyone rejected you, your writing probably sucks. Shelve it until you can learn how to write.
2. To learn how to write, take a class from a legitimate source, not some place who advertises the editors and agents who will help you hone your writing. This is a big ol’ scam that has been operating for years. And for God’s sake, don’t take writing courses from published authors. They are the WORST! I get shit from graduates from these “courses” all the time, and they don’t know how to write. And most editors and agents who work for them don’t know how to teach or edit or agent—they just need the extra cash. They have no intention of taking on your lameass shit. But they will take your money.
2. Never trust a watch group who sponsors a writer’s board or sponsors any entity who offers a service for hire for writers. Sleazy.
3. Never trust anyone who is sponsored by a group who has their very own literary agent on staff.
4. Never buy how-to books written by authors whose only credentials include some kind of college degree and the book that they are selling you. Jesus, what does an MFA know about commercial publishing? Usually nothing. And yet at conferences I always see “book editors” who have written how-to books on, let’s say romance, for example, but they have never, ever written or published a romance. Do I even need to tell you this? If you want to learn how to write a novel, sit down and try it. Get it edited. Write another one. Get it edited. Write a third, and get it edited, too. That is how you learn to write, by actually writing and getting feedback from a professional, not a Phd or a writer’s board. Get off the boards and in your computer chair. Quit looking for support and excuses not to revise. Writers who don’t want to take the time to revise are usually the ones who get scammed. Those who take shortcuts to get what they want usually get taken by those who know how to shortcut better than they do.

Jesus, I am just too old for this shit.

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