Thursday, July 28, 2016

Pissing Off Agents for Fun and No Profit

(shout out to In the Box, a blogger after my own heart)

Some of you may have seen the post going around by an author who was rejected at a pitch conference. I'm not going to repost it in full here, but here's the link for reference. It caught my attention because I actually know several of the people mentioned (Jennifer not being one of them), and they are all insanely good people who love to read and have devoted their lives to promoting authors and their works. There's just a few things I'd like to address specifically.

(1) Agents love to read. Everyone in publishing loves to read. There's no other reason we're working in publishing - it certainly can't be for the money, as publishing is traditionally an especially low-paying industry (because historically, it's had a lot of women in it, and you can pay them less). That's why we're so busy - because we're reading. And we're not just reading submissions. We're reading what's on the market, we're reading what's going on in publishing, and we're reading those classics we should have read in high school but we had that one teacher who didn't assign Beloved. (Oh, and lots and lots of fan fiction) On average, I read 50-60 books a year for pleasure or research for my own writing. When I was working as an assistant, I could knock out as many as five full manuscript submissions a day before my brain would turn to mush.

(2) We don't remember everyone's submissions. There are submissions I'll always remember and probably be telling my grandkids about, like the novel about a man getting raped by his kitchen appliances that was somehow also really good, or some memoir-ish-enough pseudo thriller that made me think the author might have killed a bunch of people in Southeast Asia, but dang if I can recall the names of the authors. I don't remember my friends' names, much less the names of authors whose manuscripts I read months or years ago.

(3) Of course we don't want your flash drive. Dude, cyber security 101, right up there with keeping a sticker over your built-in camera. At the last BEA in New York I asked a guy who worked at a house that imported fiction from China for a catalog, which must be the only time I ever asked for a catalog, and I was horrified when he gave me a flash drive. That he got from China. You know, the hacking center of the world? Plus I've seen Mr. Robot so that makes it all much worse.

(4) I've never been to a pitch conference. I've had some bosses go and managed some submissions. I also once received a submission that said "requested manuscript" all over it and the query specified that he'd met my boss at a conference she didn't go to. She was scheduled to go, and her name appeared in the brochure, but she hadn't actually gone because of a last-minute issue, so he'd just plucked her name off the brochure and hoped that she wouldn't remember that the meeting didn't happen. Who knows if he actually went.