Shooting yourself in the foot

Why do so many aspiring writers get so angry about the industry? Yes, we get rejections. Yes, they can be arbitrary and subjective. Yes, there’s plenty of conflicting advice out there. Yes, lots of good books don’t get published. Yes, lots of mediocre ones do.

If you can’t accept these things, (and others), don’t try to be a published writer.

What’s got me riled up?

One of my e-loops has a visiting agent this week. Great opportunity for un-agented writers to ask questions, get a feel for said agent, etc. Also, apparently, a great opportunity for a writer to be rude and ensure said agent will never accept him/her as a client.

This particular agency doesn’t respond to queries unless they ask for a submission. Fair enough. “We’ll contact you if interested” is a pretty common practice in the job hunting world. It’s perfectly fair for a literary agency to do this.

The agent also explained how rare it is for a query to catch his eye. Really? This was news to people? Anyone who has spent even a minute in this industry also knows this is just the way it is. Agents get oodles of queries and can’t possibly request pages from all of them. He explained this quite well from his perspective in his post.

Why then, would a writer reply with a really snarky note to the agent suggesting that if the agent isn’t looking for submissions, why he didn’t just state that on his website and not accept queries.

I want to scream at this writer.

He is looking for clients. If he weren’t, he wouldn’t be answering questions on the loop. He wouldn’t be looking at any queries. He accepts queries in hopes of something truly exciting (to him) catching his eye and finding a new great writer.

Dear writer: All he told you was the truth–that he can only request pages for a very small percentage of the queries he gets in. This is true of all agents–especially those who are well-established.

Okay. Rant over. I’m done.

  7 comments for “Shooting yourself in the foot

  1. November 14, 2006 at 9:07 pm

    I love your rants. They are always so well thought out, and well, sensible.

    I’m always amazed as well at the people who will publicly critisize agents, editors, or even the process.

    It is what it is and deal.

    Nice post.

  2. November 15, 2006 at 1:10 am

    Maureen, what you said and some. It amazes me when people do such dumb things….. brains and dangerous, springs to mind!

  3. Anonymous
    November 15, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    I just got finished teaching a customer service class where I said that “everyday you are dealing with people, either exteral or internal to your organization, consider yourself on a job interview. You never know who you’ll be working with down the road.” Your reputation is a precious thing, you don’t want to tarnish it.

    It’s always best to keep those things in mind. :)

  4. November 16, 2006 at 2:19 am

    Okay, I’m going to rant about your rant. Maureen, I don’t think you know how to rant properly. You’re supposed to go around and around, spewing nonsense words and phrases until finally either you wind down or we stop reading. I suggest taking a class. Perhaps after Romance 101, we can hold Rant 101. I’d volunteer to teach it but don’t even get me starting on teaching classes…
    There, rant over.
    Now I will wait patiently as you block my e-mail from ever commenting again.

  5. November 16, 2006 at 5:06 am


    But Kim… I’m ranting in public. If I did what you suggested, I’d be no better than the person I was railing against.

    I save real ranting for the drunk writers. They know all my secrets.

  6. November 16, 2006 at 5:10 am

    Rant on sister. Rant

  7. November 22, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    I was equally amazed with the writer who wrote a nasty, sarcastic response to the agent who sent a form rejection letter… and then made sure that the visiting agent saw this response.

    Why do people think that cursing and swearing at an agent or editor (or, really, anyone you want to do something for you) is a good thing? Talk about burning your bridges…

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