Monday, April 6, 2009

AgentFail: In the Famous Words of Carrie Heffernan "Oi Vey!"

So for those of you who don't know, there is this crucial person in the life an unpublished author. Their official title is "agent." Literary agent, Uber agent, Super Agent, they come in many variations. Recently there was a blog post called "AgentFail" where Jessica Faust of Bookends Literary Agency opened up the flood gates to writers giving their two cents about their opinions of agents. Oi Vey!
I couldn't handle reading more than a few comments, for the same reasons that I don't watch the news. Call it living in ignorant bliss but I don't need or want that kind of negativity in my life. Jessica handled it like a champ, and some comments were actually positive, but oh what a wicked web jaded writers weave when given the chance.
I'm no seasoned query submitter so maybe I'll feel differently later down the road but here's my take on agents...
Give the overly-worked heroes a break (and some well-deserved credit).

These agents get buried in hundreds of queries a week. I'm not exaggerating people, I've seen photos of slush piles (see above) and read some of the awful and unprofessional letters they are bombarded with. (Its amazing how much education you can obtain on the internet). It astounds me that they can sort through the rubble and occasionally find a truly great book. And I'm grateful for that skill because there are several books (that I know required agents) that changed my life after reading them.
I'm expecting to get many rejections from agents. Its all part of the process. A necessary process to find the agent who is going to fall in love with my story. Many might like the idea but are too busy with other clients, some might feel that there's no market for it right now, and yes sadly enough, a few may miss out on my idea because my letter gets lost in the shuffle. The scenarios are endless. However, that's why these people are agents, they know the business. I want my agent to like me, love my story, give my project the attention it deserves, want to build a long-term relationship with me (cuz I've got three more books in the works) and have a great knowledge and experience of the publishing world (in no particular order). To find all of those elements in one agent will require a lot of time and effort, and I'm ready to put in the effort and patience it takes to find him or her.
I don't need to watch the evening news to know the economy is hurting right now. That means the publishing world will be effected and less deals will be made. That decreases my odds of being signed, or receiving a major deal from a publisher. I probably couldn't have picked a worse time to write a first novel and try to get it published. But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying. When I do find my agent--who I already know is going to be fabulous--they will most likely need me to edit my work, make changes, realistically consider the market, and all the other stuff that goes along with producing a successful book. Will I tear them apart on a public thread if they hurt my feelings, disagree with me, or fail to get me on Oprah? Ummm NO. I will thank my lucky stars that I have an agent and probably name one of my super-hero characters after them. Why? Because they are not only my agent, but they are human, and all humans are simply doing the best they can. Do I want to be on the front table at Borders and have a cameo in the movie version of my book someday? Of course! What author doesn't? Will I be upset if it never happens? Maybe. But I'm sensible enough to realize that it won't be the fault of my agent. As magical and fantastic as my stories are, my rational mind is still well in tact. It's all about the STORY, well okay, and the author plays a part too. If those two elements fail to be a success, it is certainly not the fault of the diligent agent. Oi Vey!


  1. As a fellow writer, I know how frustrating the query process can be. I agree with your outlook, no need to crucify agents for doing their job. Great blog! **Liz**

  2. Sounds like you have your head on straight. = )

  3. publisher... publisher... publisher... If only I knew a publisher to call!

  4. this post has Heffer-vescence


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