Monday, September 20, 2010

It should have given me a clue:those irritating agent-bloggers

A word of warning. What I am about to share with you is not a gratuitous insult to the literary agent profession. It’s not even an attack on agents who blog. I do believe there are excellent and useful agents out there, but there is also a large and dangerous fauna that dispenses useless and misleading information that ends up doing more harm than good.

Once upon a time, I had a dream. I wanted to be, in the immortal words of Lennon-McCartney, a “paperback writer.” I didn´t want to hit the New York Time list of bestsellers or go to Oprah. I just wanted to see my book published. So I wrote a novel, I edited it and thought (naïve me) that I was ready to launch it into society. It was then, that I learned that the only way to do it was through an agent.

I had always thought agents were for rock stars and actors, but apparently novice writers provoked an allergic reaction in the American publishing houses. They saw us as the lowest of castes, and the only way we could get in touch with them were through those middle people known as agents.

Agents were easy to find. There were listings all over the Net telling us about the best in the market. Some agents had the kindness to keep WebPages and blogs so future clients could contact them. I turned into an agent blog addict, but the more I read the more downhearted I became.

Agent bloggers came in three shapes. Those too busy to take new clients; those who had the charity to dispense tiny suggestions; and those who made fun of us poor idiots who dared to think of ourselves as writers. And yet the three groups shared a couple of traits in common.

They told us, categorically, that new writers were unwanted creatures. The American Publishing Industry was undergoing a crisis, and there was little chance to get a first novel published these days. However, they all claimed to have helped hundreds of nameless, faceless writers to get their break and publish novels that remained (at least to us) as anonymous as their authors. That should have given me a big clue. If they were indeed as busy and successful as they stated, why waste their precious times discouraging people from writing or poking fun at them?

At the time, I believed every word they wrote, even when Agent X said the opposite of what Agent Z swore to be Gospel truth, but time and distance granted me with a critical eye. Finally, I realized that the same very conduct they exhibited toward their readers was a clue to their own incompetence. I am appalled at how easily novice writers fall for blogging agents’ rules and opinions. Who are these agents? Who appointed them as experts? Why do we let them humiliate and prod us?

Those of us who followed their rules know that they didn’t really aid us in our querying process. Moreover, just check bestseller´s lists and you shall see novels that break with all those taboos set up by agents. Try to discover who represented those novels and you shall not find a single agent-blogger, not even those who hide under aggressive nicks such as The Rejecter or Miss Snark (does she still exist?).
Before following erratic advice dispensed by an agent-blogger, always ask yourself three questions.

1. Do I really want this snarky being to represent me?
2. Do I really want to hire an individual that is going to spend more time blogging or making fun of others instead of getting his/her butt out there trying to sell my novel?
3. How many bestsellers did this agent sell this year?


  1. Bravo Violante! I think you have a great take on agent bloggers. Very insightful!

  2. My dear Violante,

    I'm going to have to be the first one to disagree with you. I love agent bloggers! Yes, I have been irritated by the gratuitous mocking
    and insults, but I also have to say that these blogs have helped me tremendously with my agent research and querying process. For one, blogs "humanized" agents in my eyes and let me see them as something other than a name in a directory. They have also helped me figure out if this agent would be right for my work. I believe there are two kinds of agent-bloggers: those who use their anonymity to be bold and controversial and say whatever comes to mind without repercussion to their reputations or agencies; and those who have made a good name for themselves (such as Jessica Faust and Rachelle Gardner). I have to admit that I am a big fan of these ladies' blogs. I also must admit that I have found interesting information in Miss Snark's files (to answer your question, she's not around anymore but her blog is still
    up.) Where I agree with you, Sister, is that we shouldn't take an agent's word as the Gospel truth. I had an instance when two agents gave me completely opposite feedback on the same material (one said the pace was too slow, whereas the other one said the scenes were moving too quickly!) Lesson#1: Do not change your plot to please an agent!!!

  3. Well, I do say in my opening paragraph that I believe there are some useful agent bloggers. I am glad that Sister Lorena has found them. My attack targets those who are not. Most important, I stand for sensitive writers who are discouraged by insensitive and erratic agents with no real authority, and who might (let´s give them the benefit of the doubt) not even be aware of the harm and grief they cause.

  4. Sister Lorena. All of the sudden I see all of those curls under a habit ...

  5. Ha ha ha!!!! I see that it's not going to be easy to have a serious conversation around here ;)

  6. The funny/sad thing about blogging is it can be quite addicting if you don't keep yourself in check. Don't worry Aurora, if you do it long enough the exuberance wears off after a while. Si tu fais des commentaires en espagnol, puis-je faire des commentaires en français, ou non? No, I'm joking!

  7. My dear Mary Mary- I deleted my comments in Spanish and felt it was only fair to post this so that your last comment wouldn't hang disconnected to any reasonable thread.

    Well- hope the sisters don't mind that I post my first contribution a touch early. Despite my tendency toward false starts (or hey, maybe because of it) I was always the nerd who turned in her homework before it was due.

    Here goes ...


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