A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Miscellaneous Stuff

This post will contain the words of other people—editors, other agents, writers, a bookseller, etc.—who populate this dying industry. Some are questions I will answer; others are just comments from a frustrated group of people besieged by bullshit.

From an editor…
I hate what this industry has become. I just hate it.

From an independent bookseller…
Hey Sammy, have you heard about the book that we’re expected to order even though the publishing house won’t divulge the author’s name or what it’s about? I say fuck ‘em; my patrons can go to a chain to buy that shit. This is ridiculous. Is it that publishers are trying to show us that they think we are so stupid that we will take anything, even an anonymous book with no description, just because they say it’s going to be a huge bestseller? Remember the Harry Potter disaster? Right!

From an agent…
I really can’t believe how out of hand some of these writers have gotten. I have been an agent for years, and good lord! The e-mails I get are just atrocious. Nasty notes because I send a form rejection and nasty notes if I offer comments. I can get new clients from other venues, so I just stopped taking queries period last year. Things have been a lot better since.

From an agent…
I keep hearing this lament about we agents would have nothing to do if there were no writers. Bullshit! I have skills for at least three other professions, whereas most writers are writing because they want to get out of their miserable existences. Yeah, I need these writers real bad. I can go almost anywhere and find some pudhead to scribble out a yarn, no problem. It’s not like the editors that they’re hiring now would know the difference, and believe me, the really talented writers aren’t the ones sniveling about not getting published.

From a romance editor…
I know you rail against idiot writers, but I bet you don’t have to work with them like I do. Instead of waiting for a really good book to come along, I have to take substandard crap and try to make it sellable because my house publishes so many books a year. The truth? You’ve said it, Sammy. There are millions of wannabes out there, but only a small percentage of them can write. And a smaller percentage can write really good romance. You know what I see? I see every day the stupid trends that romance publishers come up with and the way the RWA tries to legitimize romance by adding women’s fiction and chick-lit and all those other types of “sophisticated” versions of genre romance. There is nothing wrong with romance except that every pathetic, dateless wannabe thinks she can write it. I end up having to sign these people, knowing that I will have to practically re-write the damn books, and the next thing I know, the author has a web site or blog and is giving writing advice. Or she has a glamour shot posted and the site talks all about her and her life and how she came to be such an important literary icon, what with her one book and all. I hate to burst the bubble, and I would never actually say this to the writer, but just because you get a contract doesn’t mean you are a writer, just a convenient list filler. Agents are terrible about romances too. They will try to sell me anything, because they really don’t understand what good romance is. It is so depressing. I used to read romances for fun; now, like many of our readers, I don’t read anything for fun. I surf the Net.

From an agent…
God, I get so tired of hearing how evil agents are. I never realized it until I went to a few conferences, and boy, did I figure it out fast. I have done my best to get fair deals for my clients and mediate negotiations so that it’s a win/win situation for both the publisher and writer, because that’s how good books get to readers. But I’ll be damned if I don’t get on these blogs and forums and hear agents talked about like funeral parlor directors—they’re needed, but you really don’t want to have to ever see them professionally if you don’t have to.

From a writer…
I hate other writers. I can’t even get on the forums and stuff anymore because I always read something stupid from one of the regulars. Then when I respond, they either post around me or, even better, and I know this has happened to other people, they take what I posted, re-word it a little and add a comment, and then everyone praises them for their wonderful insight. Am I insane? No wonder publishers hesitate working with new writers so much. I would, too. I can’t even stand to be around them and I’m one of them. They all bitch about the cliquey-ness of the business, but the first thing they do is form cliques. I thought I graduated high school years ago.

From a small publisher…
This industry has changed so much since I started and writers need to understand that. But I get the crappiest stuff! If people just want to share their souls, fine, but don’t ask me to invest money in your work so that you—and only you—can benefit. I saw on some writer organization’s site the other day tips for writers and what they should allow (allow!?!) publishers to have. I was shocked. When did it become us against them, with the writer being the most important? Fuck that. Writers have written shitty responses to my rejections, stating that they don’t need publishers and can do it all on their own. I say, go ahead motherfucker. All these writers post on the Internet thinking they are getting back at publishers and proving they don’t need us. Good for you. You don’t need us unless you want to get paid for your writing, and as long as writers are doing all the work, which they didn’t used to have to do, we publishers will let you. They are dumbasses, aren’t they?

Questions and Answers:

From Beth…
I have a question. Why go to publishers? If you’re good, won’t they come to you? Every nut-bag has a blog and some of the nut-bags are getting deals!”--Pretty much, Betsy, they will find you if you are good. Publishers are inundated with crap every single day, and I have already given my uncensored opinion on how ridiculous it is that bloggers, most of whom are complete smartasses, are getting book deals. Publishers are getting desperate, and there are ways around them. The problem, my dear, is that you have to understand and know the industry before you can navigate away from the morons, and most wannabes don’t know the first thing about the basics as it is.

From another Beth…
“Has such a loss of professionalism (however chemically-induced) ever happened to you? Or respected agents that you know?”--In regard to a situation this questioner described about a agent who got drunk and fondled someone, no, I haven’t, to this point, suffered a loss of professionalism such as this, inebriated or otherwise. I should note, though, that this is because I am a completely unprofessional person to begin with, so people don’t set the highest standards for me anyway—just for my clients. As for my agent brethren, I know of plenty of incidents that have happened over the years, some of them pretty embarrassing, some almost illegal, and others just funny and/or titillating (Marley, love, I will never tell). However, I won’t post them because A) they will tag my identity B) I don’t share industry stuff with outsiders and C) as long as they know that I know and haven’t told, they stay in line. Blowing the whistle would lessen the iron grip of power I hold over some of these yahoos, so you really wouldn’t want me to post their dalliances, as that’s the only thing keeping them in control at all. Sort of like Saddam Hussein and the terrorists. Sort of.

From George…

“Why do agents suck so bad? Butt-juice sniffers!”--Well, George, it’s like this: Fuck off.

There are so many more, but I have to go enjoy the rest of my weekend with Bella. She’s getting antsy and shouting love words in Italian. If she gets to singing “Volaire,” I won’t make it out alive.--Sammy

3 Comments:

  • At 5:35 PM, Blogger James Goodman said…

    From a writer…
    I hate other writers.


    Sadly, this is becoming more prevalent as the idgets come out of the woodworks. There are so many aspiring writers out there just doing colossally stupid things (berating agents, posting their opinions about agents, publishing houses, etc. and just generally being pains in the ass) it’s a wonder any agent (or publisher for that matter) will even still consider unsolicited queries.

    Here’s to hoping the masses soon grow bored and move on to the next passion du jour.

     
  • At 8:54 AM, Blogger Mrs. Brain Bomb said…

    Some of that shit is just common sense. Why would you berate an agent because they rejected you? You still may do business with this person in the future. There is a very clear line between being pro-active and being an ass.

     
  • At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    C'mon, guys. You know those quotes were made up. All of them bear the telltale SammyK prose style.

     

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