A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Note to Oprah and Nan: Go Fuck Yourselves…

No, Snarky, this isn't for you, although I appreciate your comment. This is pure outrage--let my rant begin...

Is there no one left in our society who stands up for what they believe in? In Marley’s words, Jesus fucking Christ, people!

Did you see the debacle that was Oprah today? How dare you, Miss Winfrey! How dare you call for reform in MY industry, when your industry has fucked up and continues to fuck up generations of viewers. You want reform, girlie? Look in the mirror…

And I’m just getting started.

I saw enough of Oprah’s nauseating attempt to pass off her screw-up as being scammed by a publisher and author to know that this is nothing but a Cover Your Ass maneuver. Like Oprah has never knowingly foisted a guy full of bullshit on her viewers (or publishers) before?

Anyone heard of Dr. Phil? James Frey is karmic revenge for all of Dr. Phil's books.

I liked her much better when she was just someone who read the book, liked it, and recommended it, our opinions be damned. Then, at least, she could plead ignorance as a plain old reader. One that should have done some research (all responsible "journalists" do that), but a plain old reader nonetheless. That I can almost forgive. Everyone has bouts of bad taste, and, as I said in my last post, just admit you like stupid books and that you are just a talking head. There is no shame in that. I am just a literary agent. My beef was with the ridiculous shit Oprah promotes as “literature” on her show without really knowing what good literature is. I give you Anna Karenininanianainainaaaaaa, for God’s sake. So some professor Marley slept with really thinks it's a classic; that doesn’t mean that Mary Jo Housewife is going to enjoy it for any other reason than Oprah said it was a good book and that it makes her look smart when she reads it at the bee-u-tee parlor. All I wanted was for Oprah to keep her nose out of my industry and realize that any book she picks will immediately go to the best-seller status and take that responsibility a little more seriously. Therefore, Oprah dear, learn to pick quality books.

Simple, right?

Apparently not.

Oprah decides to cover her ass with miles of insulation, playing the put-upon, beleaguered reader, just like every other little old reader, instead of standing up and saying that she liked Frey's book, like she did on Larry King, and fuck the rest of us, even me, if we didn’t like it. That I would have expected, and even bought into. But she freaks me out. She turned on Frey, and then proceeds to blame the publishing industry for foisting crap on her. Whose industry started foisting crap on audiences first?

And then the publisher bails on Frey, too. Who do you think you are, Nan? Judith Regan? Gonna pack them bags and head west? Everyone is smelling defeat and bailing. What a bunch of losers. All the apologies in the world can’t make up for lack of character. Do I feel sorry for James Frey? Nope, he deserves everything he didn’t work for and the consequences thereof. Sorry, Lumpy, but you are just going to have to deal with your wannabe status.

However, Opie and Nanner Nanner Boo Boo can go fuck themselves. The heat was turned up, and you guys turned and ran. How pathetic, and what a metaphor for publishing and our society in general. I would have stayed with it. I would have rode it till it dropped from exhaustion. I’m so good, I would have turned it into a retirement plan, by God! But I would never, ever, desert my authors. Of course, I would have never sold a novel as a memoir, either…

And now everyone wants to reform publishing like they reform education or government spending. Sorry, Oprah, this is not YOUR cause; it is MY profession. Keep your talk show hosty, emotional-pandering hands off. Reform publishing? Not as long as Sammy breathes polluted air, talks to cab drivers in their own languages, and bangs easy women.

That’s a long goddamn time, ladies.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Frying Frey (tastes good with smoked Snark and baked Editor)

And the Wannabe of the Year Award goes to…

James Frey, Oprah, and Nan Talese

I wasn’t going to join the fray on Frey, mainly because every literary pundit has weighed in on this little scandal, which takes the fun right out of it. However, someone e-mailed me and wanted to know my take on what happened, A Million Little Pieces-wise. What I really want to say in response is that apparently this writer has not read my prior posts. Hasn’t Sammy ranted about this enough in the past?

James Frey is a great example of the wannabe that I’ve tried to take to task in many of my posts. A wannabe will do anything to be somebody, and Frey is no different. His type will lie, cheat and do just about anything to get published in typical wannabe fashion. Then, when caught, the wannabe will blame everyone except himself for his misfortune. At any time this guy could have said during an interview, "Hey, I want to make it clear that I may not remember everything clearly" or "This is actually loosely based on my life" and no one would have given a shit. But he didn't.

Writers worry so goddamn much about scams, yet they fail to see the scam perpetuated by writers who will say anything to get their work published. The scam is really on the reader, and it’s such a shame. Memoir? Sure, I guess you could call my book a memoir. Maybe. I named the character after myself, so does that count?

And Oprah is a wannabe, too. She wants to be a great literary consort…a patroness of the written word…a contessa of books. She isn’t. She’s a chick who likes beach reads and melodramatic horseshit. Sorry, O, but facts are facts. You’re a gal like 70,000,000 other gals who like women’s fiction and girly reads. The difference is that they don’t call Larry King and talk about the emotional resonance of a book that has only one emotion—anger—and a whole lot of defiance (and some bullshit thrown in for good measure). There’s a lesson to be learned here, o mighty TV persona. Mainly, that lesson is that you are a talk show host—an entertainer, not an art critic. I won’t host a talk show if you will shut your fucking yap about books. Deal?

What I mostly want to say about this, however, is that I don’t understand who the 1.5 million supposed readers who plopped down good money for this liteary POS are. I read a few pages and it was enough to know that I probably rejected it. This guy writes in lumps, never met a punctuation mark that he liked and doesn’t know how to capitalize…anything. Who the fuck does he think he is, ee cummings? eeeeeeeee!

I won't even mention the fact that it is just like 30,000 other "memoirs"
about addiction, puking, snot, gagging, blood, disappointed parents, and lost teeth on the shelves. What the hell are you people thinking? Or not.

Nan Telese must have left her glasses at home the day she read this. Surely she is not advocating that budding authors copy this jerk-off’s style, is she? Normally when an author breaks the rules, he should know what the rules were to begin with, shouldn’t he? Apparently not. NOTE TO WANNABES: Don’t try JF’s bullshit at home. The scary part of this is that maybe Nanner Nanner Boo-Boo really, really thought it was good, or worse, she really does think it is a memoir. Maybe she had on her glasses after all and went running through her office screeching, "You've got to read this! It's wonderful!" Wait a minute, I am enjoying that picture in my mind just a little too much.

Need I say more to those of you who seek publication? This is what you face.

True masters of the art know the rules, have fucked with the rules, and then can creatively and brazenly ignore the fucking rules. Got it? Do you u-n-d-e-r-s-t-a-n-d?

All I can say is, yes, this is the depths to which American publishing has sunk. It’s all about greed and money, folks. Fuck literature. It’s all about entertainment, you know. No matter what people say about me, I would have never taken this schizophrenic hodgepodge of gobbledygook on, and I’m a literary whore. But kind of a Mary Magdelene kind of whore, not like the Julia Roberts dorky Pretty Woman kind of whore who no one really believes got anything in the end except Richard Gere's big one, VD, and lots of ticket sales. There’s a difference, goddamn it!

And if you don’t know what I mean, you’re a fucking wannabe!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Comment Replies, Part II

And now for F.E. Mazur, who is one of many writers (and just happens to be the most recent) who thinks that publishing wouldn’t exist without them.

F.E. Mazur says…
My only comment to Sammy's post is this: he should feel some indebtedness to the wannabes. It's they who brought about a spike in the number and importance of literary agents, Until that increase, editors were getting smacked on all surfaces of the head by thousands of horrible manuscripts that writers were tossing over the transom. Finally, a few publishers and editors had lunch together and said, "We need an army of %%())*@$&!s to sift through this crap before it gets to us." So thank the wannabe, Sammy, and be nice about it.

Are you kidding? Wannabes are why there are literary agents? There have been agents for over 100 years, before the word processor made everyone a potential wannabe. When people had to type their manuscripts, they took writing a lot more seriously than the yo-yo’s do now. Typewriters, God love ‘em, weeded out the lazy, fame-seeking shits, who then turned to Amway to make their fortune and their mark on the world. And if I follow the logic here, then I guess doctors should be grateful for diseases or dentists should be grateful for sugar. Icky.

And for my last reply for the evening, to Anonymous, who says of Marley’s post (and don’t worry, I am sure she will respond when she sees this comment, too)… You really need to make up your mind whether you are criticizing mothers with four kids for writing or people who are untrained to write for writing. There's no ipso facto relationship between the two in the first instance. I agree with you in the second instance, but, again, there's no lips-and-teeth relationship between mommies and untrained writers. A little fuzzy thinking on your part, I think.

Oh, Anony, but there is. Do you have any idea how many mommies are untrained writers? I am beginning to think it is now part of the birthing process. The hospital hands you a baby, a car seat, and a book on how to get published. And to make it clear, I think Marls was criticizing both. I doubt she mentions anyone without criticizing him, so that would be my guess.

And next, after I consume some more vino, I will comment on a rotten scammer who got caught red-handed—James Frey—in a post I like to call A Million Little Pieces of Bullshit.

Comment Replies, Part I

Well, now, it appears that ol’ Sammy-boy has upset some folks.


Tis my job, and my goal, to discourage those whose literary cholesterol clogs the arteries of the publishing world. We are to the point that publishing is looking at having the BIG ONE, partially due to its own bad habits, and partially due to the cholesterol. Just call me Crestor.

I usually don’t respond to comments personally, because I get too goddamn many, and most of them are from idiot writers or watchers who read only one part of my blog and then jot some self-righteous bullshit down and send it to me. Just like a wannabe, isn’t it? They just gotta be heard!

However, today I had a little extra time and a little extra wine, so I went through some comments and decided to pretend I was a wannabe. Oh, shit!

First, to Dave and McDonald: There is a vast difference between me and people like you and your watcher friends. You are part and parcel of those who feed off of wannabes. I do everything in my power to discourage them, and some of this blog is dedicated to that goal.

Dave says, “If PA (Publish America, I assume) was actually throwing shit at the walls, as you so eloquently put it, to see what stuck (meaning sold, I presume), then there be would PA books in numerous bookstores from sea to shining sea.”

No, Dave, when I said “throwing shit against the wall,” I was referring to published, not just sold. PA does what every writer wants them to do: They get a book into the author’s hands. Any book. They publish anything, and if it sells, it sells. If it doesn’t, they have 420,000,000 other pieces of shit available. .

I guess it’s education time, Dave. And McDonald, you might as well move closer to the front of the room so you can learn something, too. First of all, I think I clearly stated that I’m not an advocate of Publish America. But Publish America does fill a need. It gives the wannabe a place to get his feces masterpiece published. For example, once Wannabe Q. Writer has been rejected by agents and publishers alike and now hates everyone in publishing and just knows that this entire industry must be filled with assholes and stupid people because his shit is wonderful and deserved to be foisted on readers everywhere, PA gives him an avenue to publish to that costs nil. The alternatives are self-publishing, where he pays all the costs, POD publishing, where he pays set-up costs, or companies like PA, where he pays nothing. Okay, Dave and Mac, which approach is best for your wannabe...keep in mind that wannabes NEVER want to put any time, effort, or money into their writing careers.

Because it costs nothing to publish with PA, wannabes should love this. At the end of the experience, the wannabe gets a book. She has to pay for author copies of the book, but she took nothing out of her pocket to get it produced. Isn’t that what you guys advocate—writers getting everything for nothing? To go along with the rest of your philosophies, you should be bosom buddies with PA. You are all, after all, in the same coddle-the-wannabe mode, right? However, PA doesn’t offer Oprah, nor does it offer prestigious advances, multiple book deals, or the bragging rights that the author got published by a major publisher. Wannabes want it all, and when they discover that PA isn’t the publisher they thought it was, they scream “SCAM!”

And I scream for ice cream.

Monday, January 09, 2006

A Woman’s Place is in the Kitchen, Not in Front of the Typewriter

Well, here she is, folks. Marley is back and rarin' to go. She opens the birth of the new year with a post especially directed at those who give birth, or rather, those who give birth and then decide to become writers.

As usual, be forewarned that this is Marley we are talking about here, so expect a little profanity and a lot of sass.

And here she is...

Who the fuck are all these mommies who suddenly decide, after baby number four, that they want to write books? Fuck you, mommies! I am sick of your half-assed queries and your schmaltzy goddamn kiddy books. Writing is a real job with real responsibilities, not a hobby. I take books as seriously as you take mommyhood, but somehow you have the idea that you could be a writer without any training. Hey, just because you decided to become a state-sponsored brood mare doesn’t mean you can do anything except have babies, and most of you are fucking that up, too, because of your goddamn selfishness. You want examples?

I give you, first off, SUV’s, the spaceship of soccer moms everywhere. I always hear this “Well, my kids need to safe” shit, but I never hear anything about the mommies driving the little two-door Fords who get plowed into and killed by your “safe” SUV’s because you were distracted by little Jason setting his brother’s hair on fire with your hidden BIC lighter (husband mustn’t know we smoke or he won’t like us anymore). What about the rest of us who drive regular, non-gas guzzling cars? We aren’t supporting an economy that degrades and abuses women, but you are. And that wouldn’t be so bad if you would just stop sending me queries about little Bunny Loves to Hop who hurt his toe and cried—Jesus fucking Christ, people!

And these are the same clueless mommies who "um, just weren't sure" whom to vote for in the 2004 presidential election, so they voted for Dubya because he could protect their kids. Well, dizzlefitz, are you gonna vote for Marley in 2008? You should! I'm protecting your kids, too, but I keep them safe by making sure that your ridiculous story about Keirnan's Very Bad Day never makes it to the desk of an editor (because some editors are stupid soccer moms just like you and might actually publish the damn thing). SIDE NOTE: I can always tell the amateurs because they name characters in their books after their own children, and, sorry, but Ashlyn or Kylan or Madison or Neenan or whatever fucked up, mispelled (and unusal!) name you downloaded on your poor child usually makes a piss poor character name.

The only thing worse that mommies in SUV’s with pens is ministers, or people who claim to be ministers, men or women. They write these pieces of shit spirituality (which is more like spirituality according to whoever wrote the book…Bible references optional) and don’t understand why I don’t want to take it on. For one thing, I am not a gay-bashing, self-righteous, woman-hating egotistical hypocrite who thinks that s/he has a direct line to God—I leave that shit to George W. Bush. And contrary to the title of this piece, the only women who I really think belong in the kitchen are the dumbfucks who decided having five kids isn’t quite fulfilling enough—over-populating the earth never turns out the be what it is cracked up to be, does it?— and want to be adored, famous and rich writers. Hey, raising five tots is pricey these days, what with the price of oil and all.

The absolute worst is an SUV-driving minister mommy who tells the kids that they should love all people, because God does, except for the Jews and gays who will burn in hell, along with all the agents and editors who can't see that she is the next Dr. Suess.

Jesus fucking Christ, people!

Fuck you, Marley

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave...

There’s a new virus going around. No, it’s not a STD; it’s actually worse. I’m going to, for a lack of a better definition, call this thing BB, for Buddy-Buddy. This insidious virus is very selective about its host and only selects humans with limited brainpower, creating a symbiotic relationship with its host instead of feeding off of it so that it can infect the human subspecies called the Whining Wannabe (or WW). WW’s, by the way, are those who are not happy being what they are, and, although they come to the party ill-prepared, they always wanna be what they are not. Hosts infected with BB no longer see Whining Wannabes as human, though, but as book consumers. Herein lies the evil truth!

BB is usually cultured in the petri dishes we know as chat rooms, writer boards or watcher sites. The BB host can usually be identified because this type virus always uses his or her real name and is always a published author with a book or two to hawk or a career to foster.

The BB host ingratiates itself to the writers around them because it never criticizes anyone and is always optimistic about writing and wannabe writers, even though it knows in its genetic code that most will never get published. The typical BB host is always there to offer advice and to give a helping hand, as well as protect and advise writers against all the bad people in the publishing world. All Whining Wannabes love their Buddy-Buddies. Their advice is free, the mainstay of the freeloading WW. “This is wonderful!” thinks the Wannabe, “So-and-so is always there for me. My BB is so generous, kind and giving. My BB loves me! And my writing!”

But is advice free? Whining Wannabes will eventually learn (I doubt it, but where there’s life, there’s always hope) that nothing is free and nothing is what it seems to be. Most things, if they are of any value, are not free. Free stuff is usually sucker bait. The BB is a sneaky bug and its by-product is name-brand recognition. In the case of the published author, it’s his/her name you carry with you into the bookstore. Name-brand recognition is the greatest scam out there. It gives celebrity to the few and lets everyone else who might have a better product languish.

Like I said, BB is a sneaky bug, but oh-so-easy to catch. Why? Because after awhile, the BB host goes from just being helpful to being downright domineering. You will notice that anyone who challenges it will get snarked at—so uncharacteristic of the BB host! When discovered and confronted, it will always utter this phrase, “I use my real name because I have nothing to hide.” But Buddy-Buddy, you always have something to hide and that’s your real agenda. The fact that you set yourselves up as experts, when you are not, and immediately discredit anyone who disputes your supposed expertise, can only mean that you want to remain “out there” so that the writers you are supposed be helping will continue to buy your books or provide the word-of-mouth power that keeps you in the news (which translates to the type of celebrity that allows you to be able to write articles, be invited to conferences, etc.)

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.—Sir Sammy Kitzler (thanks, Sir Walter Scott, for lending me your words)