You Want a Piece of Me?


Olympic athletes train every day. They wake up at absurd hours because they need more time than a normal human schedule allots. Before the average Olympian has ever won a medal, they have supporters. The public cheers them on because they want them to succeed. When they compete, they are known for either life altering mistakes (broken limbs, public falls, etc.), or dream achieving performances. If I have my facts right, most of them don’t hold full time jobs while engaged in a ‘training’ season.

Writing is no different. Save the public’s basic understanding of what it takes to become a master of our craft. Family members question our absence at holidays or get-togethers. Friends whine about unanswered phone calls, unaddressed emails or short visits. In-laws, acquaintances and neighbors ask why we don’t do something more directly related to gainful employment…or worse, success. I suspect they don’t truly know the definition of the word.

Publishing companies, those few who are willing to accept unsolicited submissions, make the bold requirement, ‘No multiple submissions’ yet with the same tongue, ‘Expect a reply within 6-8 months.’

For each agent, a writer must research all the particular likes and dislikes, the format (there are just as many ways to submit a query as there are stars in the sky), the amount to include (five pages, no pages, query only, full synopsis), and even how to address the agent. This essentially boils down to personal preference. Agent X doesn’t appreciate being addressed by their first name. Agent Y wouldn’t get past the greeting if it didn’t specifically address her by first and last name. Bottom line: you don’t want us to succeed.

I don’t want to hear the usual crap I hear from the publishing world about professionalism, courtesy and all of the excuses used for  supposedly ‘streamlining’  the process. We get to read all of the time about one author or another who had the audacity to….fill in the blank with the offense of the week.  I’ve read more than once how it isn’t possible for an agent, NOT to be FOR authors. Really? Step outside of your self-righteous shoes and read your bullshit for what it is. “Don’t submit to anyone else for half a year, wait for me to send you a form rejection.” Really. That’s–FOR authors? Did that sound supportive to you? Oh wait, you didn’t say it like that, did you? But that’s what you meant. There are whole blogs dedicated to educating authors on how to better get along with agents by way of bettering their queries and synopses. How about a blog dedicated to agents on how to respect the amazing amount of time and soul it takes to write a single piece of work? I’d be blacklisted in a NY minute. If I’m not already. Oh and don’t bother telling me that they are being magnanimous enough to spend a few moments of their precious time to ‘help’ us out.

*Sigh* I’d love to see just one agent, make a single dime from selling books without the authors they’ve signed. Wait, books don’t exist without us. So, unless HAL develops literary aspirations, we won’t EVER see that.

Why would I be blacklisted? Free speech right? For everyone but us. I have a big problem with the amount of arrogance it takes to expect every writer to take hours out of their time researching your personal tastes in such depth that a simple slip of the tongue could warrant a rejection slip. Don’t think that possible? Do a little research and then come tell me it’s never happened. I have better things to do—like, I don’t know, bettering my craft, for example. I know, how dare I expect to spend my time actually practicing, actually writing. Will I stoop to this heinous act myself?

Yeah. Because if I ever want to see my work on the shelves of a brick and mortar store, I don’t have a choice in the matter. But let me assure you—should fortune ever smile on me, and I find myself in a position to REALLY say something about this, they’ll get a serious piece of my mind.

Oh, and because I know some smart-ass will either ask or think this. Yes, I would be saying this if I were published or currently signed with an agent. Don’t believe me? Well, nobody’s perfect.

8 responses

  1. “It is not possible to eat me without insisting that I sing praises of my devourer?” —Fyodor Dostoevsky

  2. “Keep singing! Keep singing!” he begged her. “We’re all just miners down here who need to know that we’re still alive, that there’s still good air to breathe.”

  3. The current problem with ‘doing the hustle on your own’ is that it is near impossible to place your book in brick and mortar stores; which is where the majority of the public shops for books. Yes, there is a good portion who do so online, but I want to see my work on the shelves. That’s all. Money is a non-issue—meaning, I am broke now…so staying broke doesn’t bother me. I don’t want to make a million dollars or retire in some mansion somewhere on the coast. I just want to walk into Barnes and Noble and see my books. Will that ever happen? I don’t know. You don’t lose this game until you quit. So we’ll see. And for the record, if I could become an agent—I would. But, I live in Columbus, Ga…so…not happening.
    I think my desires are not too unlike those of most authors–at the heart of the matter anyway. I want to be able to sustain a life of doing what I love and in order to do that—I need to make it as a successful author. I would like to see the indie movement that is so wildly popular in the film world, become a serious presence in the literary world and I am doing everything I can to help further that. See the indie reads page and link to the right. This is a new concept for me…one I am grateful to have been introduced to.

  4. I hear you. Distribution is the bugaboo of the book industry. And it’s a nut I haven’t cracked, yet. As an independently published author, I’m placing my books in store on my own, one store at a time. Read INDIE READS page, and cool! I guess I’ve already started that, but with nonfiction… BTW, I’ve met literary agents in the Atlanta, GA area, so location doesn’t matter anymore in this biz. As long as the agent can create and maintain good ties with editors, that’s all that matters, IMHO.

  5. For the record, I’m about to sign with a publisher and just as I promised, “I’m still saying it!”

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