A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Total Rant

What have you done?

You are a miserable lot, aren’t you? Those of you who truly believe that you belong in the publishing world so that you can create the empire that is you and be worshipped and adored by admiring fans even after you cease to exist on this planet. It isn’t good enough to be a decent, hard-working law-abiding citizen. No, you want the free and easy existence that wealth brings, with all the perks and power, but none of the sacrifice. You have allowed your own needs to override those of everyone else and quashed the greater good with a press of a computer key, all because you needed to feel important.

God, how did it get so bad? How?

I am sure you thought you’d seen the last of Sammy-baby, didn’t you? Well, you haven’t, not as long as there are wannabes and wannabe enablers in the world. My job won’t be done until someone—anyone—realizes what a pack of lies dictates the “new” publishing paradigm (look it up if you don’t know what it means dum-dum).

And it is lies and bullshit, and that is why I exist. The one true voice who tells you publishing doesn’t NEED you or WANT you. The one true voice who has said all along that being published is a huge responsibility that only certain people, those who have prepared themselves and write well, deserve. The one true voice that pointed out that those who don’t know what they are doing shouldn’t be telling others how to get published or how to avoid scams. Who told you that one day wannabes would cause things to end badly for the rest of the writers who might, although probably not, have a chance?

I did.

But everyone tried to discredit me, although I have hit on a number of issues and been proved correct every time. You will believe some anonymous dingbat working her Dr. Phil mojo on you with bizare and incestuous ties to the watchers, and you are more than willing to query agents who regularly get their own books published instead of their clients', but you won't believe me. Once again, though, I am vindicated, and my proof is in the form of an article from the Chronicle about the Sobol Award.

Oh my God, what have you done now?

You know how the minute this award was announced the watchpuppies and so-called professional agents (my ass) jumped on it because of the requirements and an entry fee of $85? That award got blasted all over the place, because wannabe writers have been weaned on the notion that they should never ever have to spend any of their hard-earned cash (sure, Jake Do-Gooder, I believe you deserve that raise you trampled on your friends in Corporate Americaland to get…sure…you earned it) or expend anymore effort than necessary to have someone else land that special seven-figure deal (six just isn’t good enough these days) for a lousy 15%. It must be a scam! We have to save those poor little writers from their own stupidity! Stop that lousy scammer!

Writers everywhere said the same thing: That guy is making $85 an entry, and he’ll make $___________(fill in your amount here) for just doing nothing. And that outraged writers everywhere! How dare this guy make money for doing nothing! I wanna make money for doing nothing! How do they know he does nothing? Because that’s what all agents do, didn’t you know? Wannabes really believe (and have been taught) they only need an agent because S&S won’t look at their manuscript otherwise. We are just evil blood-suckers who prey on the talent of helpless writers who are at the whims of those big, important publishers who have this silly ridiculous rule that they don’t want to see your shit unless someone with a brain sees it first. And you are so jealous because you think agents have nothing better to do than sit around all day reading queries and praying that they’ll find the next JK Rowling or getting laid at conferences. Why should you, as a writer, have to work when this agent just dibbles his time away? NOBODY SHOULD EARN MONEY THAN I DESERVE DOING WHAT I WANT TO DO! That is real issue here, isn’t it? You want to live the good life and think that agents have it made, don’t you? Jealous, jealous, jealous. Hell, editors think that, why not stupid writers? You are all so jealous that we agents have actually carved out a place among you, holding publishers’ feet to the fire and forcing writers to just shut up and goddamn write something instead of whining.

So a whole culture has sprung up to empower anyone who puts pen to paper, and the guardians of this culture (watchpuppies, incompetent industry professionals who perpetuate this crap, other authors) have become so caught up in their “mission” that they have failed to realize that their actions have basically closed every road open to new, talented writers. They have effectively leveled any chance a writer might have had to break in by making up their own set of standards that are based on nothing more than the idea that writers are gods. Unfortunately, that system doesn’t work and takes good writers down with the bad.

The Sobol Award is a perfect example of this. I don’t know if the guy is a scammer or not. I don’t care. Scammers are the wolves who thin out weakest of the herd; they have their purpose. Like viruses. I don’t like them or seek them out either, but they exist and keep the population under control or we would have more wannabes than we do now. Ick.

This guy gets this award together and then, as expected, gets blackballed on every writer’s board and the usual smear campaign got posted on the Internet, just as everyone knew it would. Some were upset about the contractual obligations, mainly that the guy in charge would be your agent blah blah blah. But it was the entry fee that everyone deeply resented. Must be a scam. Even the dipshit who wrote the article was wrong about it. He stated that “Industry policy prohibits agents from charging money to read manuscripts.” The problem here is that an entry fee is NOT A FUCKING READING FEE. Entry fees usually go for paying judges, offering prize money, and processing the goddamn entries.

Then they bring S&S on board. Yes, that publisher who won’t normally look at anything unless it comes from agent actually signed on to publish the top three winners, for a lot of money. Well, a lot of money to you anyway. But that wasn’t good enough. Let me tell you, those writers who whined that they didn’t want their precious book to be under a strict contract to S&S like that were fools. Do you think you could ever net a book deal from S&S for what they were willing to pay on your own? Even without this guy’s commission? Not in this life, champ.

But Sammy, they would have taken all rights and I could get more for them than that elsewhere. First of all, no you couldn’t, dipshit, and second of all, you don’t have a great novel just lying around you can send them and say bye to it? You don’t have spare masterpieces that you could sell for money? Why not? Professional writers, people with talent, have good books lying around that are strong enough to send in and maybe even win—they get the cash and who gives a shit about the book?—and they can write another one and another one. Professional writers have more than one book in them, and the quality of their first drafts is better than the fiftieth draft from most of the wannabes. Some smart writer could have worked the system right in his favor and still come out ahead.

But, darn it, $85 was just too much of a risk. ($100,000-15% commission=$85,000 dollars and $85,000-$85 entry fee=$84,915)

Some poor wannabe just lost some cash. What if it is was you and this was the only publishing credit you were ever going to get? I bet you're feeling pretty sheepish right now, huh? Now maybe the wannabes will turn on each other and their gurus, those leaders that even lemmings wouldn't follow.

The article contained this quote: "Maybe the message is that unpublished writers have been exploited in so many different ways that it's difficult to launch an effort, regardless of whether it's in good faith or not," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild, which represents thousands of published writers. "Charging people is fundamentally suspect and it's hard to overcome that."

That says it all. Look at what you have done, you stupid, stupid wannabes. Look what you have done to MY industry. And that includes the new breed of editors and the old breed of watchpuppies, the authors who promote this stuff, and anyone in the industry who won’t speak out against you people because they are too inexperienced to know any better or too solicitous to care that they are promoting bad habits in the wannabe kingdom, as if merely existing isn’t bad enough.

People who don’t give a shit about you tell you what you want to hear; those who tell you the truth, as unpleasant as it may be, are the ones who truly care, if not about you, then about something.

Think about that for a little while, wannabes, and happy fucking new year.


  • At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "...they have failed to realize that their actions have basically closed every road open to new, talented writers."


  • At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Good to see you back, Sammy.

  • At 6:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Can you make the print bigger on your blog, please?

    The maroon on pink is really hard to read in such a small typeface.


  • At 7:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're still drunk, Sammy. Get a grip...

    You're still a wannabe. And never will be. Go home.

  • At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I love you. Properly. I'm not going to add my name to anything given the potential of monsters coming to my blog and monstering me, but sincerely: that post has made my day. Thank you.

  • At 5:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Possibly what I love more is the fact that you use em dashes. ON A BLOG.

  • At 11:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was a newbie writer once, not all that long ago, and I've been reading your blog for quite some time. I don't always enjoy your vulgarities, but, hey, no big deal. I do, however, always agree with what you say.

    There is a huge, insidious industry making aspiring writers feel good about themselves and how to crack the realm of publication, but so, so few who talk of the work, the craft, and the endless hours alone with a word processor. I can't count how many wannabees I've met who think that their words are sparkling manna from the gods, or who believe that the only way they'll agree to sell their masterpiece is when a major publisher offers them a million bucks. Of course said masterpiece isn't finished or polished, but they're sending the first three chapters out to S&S next week. By the end of the month they'll surely have that million dollar offer and the book will be on the shelf by Easter. Maybe they should hold out for a million and a quarter? New cars and houses are pricy, you know.

    'Scuse my language, but Jesus Fucking Christ. Publishing is a business, that means WORK is involved, and the miniscule effort it took to type of 50 pages of slop is NOT worth a million bucks. Hell, I’ve survived three published books and a six digit offer would give me a coronary. I drive a decade old car, live in the same house we've had for years, and my kid goes to public school. This is not a life of luxury, contrary to what the wannabees believe. And they still have to write the book! Why doesn’t anyone talk about writing? Everyone frets about the money. Which sucks when held up against the work it takes to get a book from the brain to the shelf.

    They’re just insane, I guess. Or delusional. I won’t even go into what they think about the editing process, cover art, or production. It’s enough to give me hives.

    You're absolutely right about how wannabees view agents. That's a shame. I never could have approached my publisher without mine, and God knows he earned his 15% in the contract negotiations. Fwiw, I think he's awesome and worth every single penny.

    So, anyway, we’re not all bad out here, Sammie. And I have faith that there are some decent writers who are trying to sell, and they’re paying attention, not just believing the hype.

  • At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're a little behind the eight ball on this one, aren't you, Sammy?

  • At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with this one. The idea that only free contests are legit--no matter who's running the contest--irritates the heck out of me, especially coming from people to admit to doing stupid shit like playing the lottery or gambling or entering raffles or anything else. (I've been known to do all three, but I also don't bitch about entry fees.)

    Or, well, really, coming from anyone it annoys me. Next thing you know they'll be bitching that agents should be sending THEM pre-paid envelopes to send queries in, because writers aren't supposed to spend a dime, ever, or anything.

    Glad to see you back, Sammy.

  • At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


    Pink is so gay. Change the skin. Please.

  • At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree with whoever said the print is too small. That bothers me more than the color. The entry seemed interesting but I am getting old and can't read the tiny typeface.

  • At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sammy, your use of sock puppets is pathetic.

    You think readers can't figure out that most of these flattering "anonymous" comments are your own?


  • At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I wouldn't like to be Sammy. I'm very much my own person, thanks.

  • At 9:31 PM, Blogger The Lettershaper said…

    Very much enjoyed the time I spent reading and looking around your site...as a poet myself, I found it a rewarding look as well as a informative. Thank you...

  • At 8:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Off topic, but why not here...

    So Sammy, what's your take on Peter Matthiessen's admission that he was CIA, and The Paris Review was his cover (NYT January 13, on the web at http://www.newsobserver.com/105/story/533074.html)?

    Does the lack of response to this story mean that it was well known among the NY lit in-crowd, or something else? The Paris Review as a CIA rag, and the Mattheissen-as-Bond stories might be a tad larger than the Regan/OJ book kerfuffle (tho' of course of less intergalactic importance than the Snark-Stuart/Crusie stoush).

    Is the message that if you're a wannabe who can actually slap a few words together in a readable way, don't faff about with getting a literary agent, head for The Farm?

  • At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your blog is very unprofessional. If you're truly a legit agent, you would have treated the matter with more respect.

  • At 1:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You know, there's something really wrong with you.

  • At 11:14 AM, Blogger Richard Cooper said…

    Laughing my ass off here. Thanks! Now back to work…

  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger CJ Kinniburgh said…

    Jesus Christ I am laughing harder than I have in a long while. I forget how I got to this site (thank you very much tabbed browsing) but I am glad I found you.

  • At 4:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You're a prick, that's for sure.

    I like you, Sammy.

  • At 6:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You must be the unhappiest person in the entire world. I don't know whether you're right or wrong, but I do know that being so vehemently pessimistic can't be good for your health.

    Here's hoping that your absence indicates that whatever bug crawled up your butt has dislodged.

  • At 2:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Fuck all wannabe writers, fuck the publishing/entertainment industry, fuck everything. It's all a big joke. The key to making a living as a writer: know how to appeal to that wide, white middle class consumer base and the agents and editors who are just like them. If you can't write for them, you're doomed.

  • At 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I feel sorry for you :(


Post a Comment

<< Home