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 Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?

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Malcolm
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Malcolm

Number of posts : 1504
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Location : Georgia

Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? Empty
PostSubject: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 8:19 am

If you chance upon the manuscript submissions page of one well-known literary agency that no longer accepts queries or manuscripts without a recommendation from somebody the agents know, you'll find this advice:

Our advice to writers seeking representation is to search out writing groups or writing teachers that can give support to your work and can provide recommendations to agents when they feel your work is ready for submission to a professional publishing person.

This "advice" is absurd on its face: what are the odds that the writing teacher one selects is going to be a trusted friend or colleague of anyone at this agency?

More importantly, why does the person who wrote these words presume that because the prospective client doesn't know anyone at the agency, s/he needs to enroll in a writing course?

My guess is that the agency believes the following: "98.6% of the people reading our submission guidelines are unwashed wannabees who, after a misspent life of drinking and grave robbery, sobered up one day and said, 'Dang, i think i wannabee a riter.'"

Otherwise, presuming that everyone you don't know needs to go back to school is at best arrogant.

Why not just say: We don't accept unsolicited queries or manuscripts without insulting the many long-time writers and other professionals who might have found your site?

Fortunately, most of the agents' websites I've seen, while equally firm, have a great deal more finesse and occasionally some very helpful resources.

While I am sometimes deluged with mail and e-mail requests that I can't possible handle, I can't possibly imagine what it would be like to be a literary agent with a ton of unsolicited manuscripts arriving on my doorstep each week.

But guys, I have to say that you caused this problem. You have worked diligently for years convincing publishers that they will have more time to do what they do best if agents are permitted to screen ALL manuscripts first.

You asked to be the sole keepers of the sacred gates. The least you can do is smile sweetly when somebody knocks.

-

(I didn't knock or even consider knocking, just happened to notice this when I was looking to see who represented whom.)
from Sun Singer's Travels: http://sunsinger.blogspot.com/
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

Number of posts : 4017
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Age : 71
Location : Washington, USA

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 8:28 am

Very well put!
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lin
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lin

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Location : Mexico

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 8:33 am

Hey, agents are evil.


The fact that they're a necessary evil just makes it that much worse.
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 10:10 am

Thanks, Zada. You may be right, Lin!

Malcolm


Last edited by Malcolm on Sun Jun 01, 2008 11:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Pam
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Pam

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Location : Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 11:09 am

Good one Malcolm--I love the reference to how they created this situation themselves by asking to be the gatekeepers. Sheesh.
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Malcolm
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Malcolm

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySun May 18, 2008 12:39 pm

The gatekeers keep adding more locks to the gate while I keep hoping maybe they'll be trapped inside.

Malcolm
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madhatter
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madhatter

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyMon May 26, 2008 7:03 am

Saying that all agents are evil is just wrong. I happen to like mine. She is funny and intelligent. I like her as a person, and I value her opinion.

Now...can she control what editors deem "commercial"? No.
But, I still stand a better chance at the big publishers with her on my team.

Sure, the system sucks. Wouldn't we all like to return to the days when a writer could simply approach an editor? When the value of a writer's work was all that mattered, and not what was considered "hot" at the time?

Not the real world, I'm afraid.
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyMon May 26, 2008 7:23 am

What you say makes sense.
I don't know whether you made this post or your mother. lol!
But I'm sure she would have used those same words and logic.
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyMon May 26, 2008 8:39 am

I think for many of us, the problem seems to be finding a reputable agent among all the wolves out there!!
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyMon May 26, 2008 9:05 am

Hope Clark has an interesting e-book called Agent in Your Pocket which covers the basics of finding an agent; it includes resource links as well as links to quite a few agents. Cost is $8.95

Her web site: http://www.fundsforwriters.com/ebooks.htm

Malcolm
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zadaconnaway
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zadaconnaway

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyThu May 29, 2008 10:16 am

Thanks for the link, Malcolm!
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Brenda Hill
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Brenda Hill

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 12:20 am

Hey guys. Do any of you remember 'the good ol' days' when agents would baby along and support writers who showed promise? Of course, that was eons ago, long before personal computers and gillions of people wanting to write.

The one I had tried the 'tough love' approach with me and I'm not so sure that was good. Now I wouldn't mind a little pampering.
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 4:50 am

You know Brenda I had forgotten about that too--the nurturing agent. One of the greatest "spirit lifters" I see around here is the local writer's association. Great group of people, and the board and staff at the office give incredible support (and are very well networked). It's like having a cheering squad all of your own, even though they do it for everyone. Kind of like the virtual community is here in some respects.
Go team go! Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? 986243
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 9:36 am

That sounds wonderful, Pam. May I join?????

You know, Southern CA is full of talented people, but out here, almost in the desert, there's not a writers' group around. I've thought of starting one, but don't know if I have enough spare time to do all the ground work necessary.

Would be nice, tho.
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Pam
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 11:43 am

You can join Brenda, though you are a heck of a distance from Nova Scotia. It's called the Nova Scotia Writer's Federation http://www.writers.ns.ca/ and I'd be happy to introduce you to the crew Very Happy
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 12:08 pm

Would be quite a jaunt for the evening, wouldn't it. Oh well, another idea bites the dust.
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Malcolm
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 1:38 pm

Most of those good old days agents are dead. Bummer. Hey, Mad, at least I'm in the clear because I didn't say all agents are evil. I met one a few years ago who hadn't yet gone over to the dark side.

Malcolm
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptyFri May 30, 2008 1:44 pm

Sounds like there's hope yet, Malcolm. At least I'd like to think so.
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Dick Stodghill
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Dick Stodghill

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat May 31, 2008 10:35 am

I'm not sure everyone is being realistic. Agents are eagerly searching for exceptional talent. Not good, exceptional. As Brenda pointed out, thanks to computers and the Internet they are snowed under by people wanting to be represented. Many have no hope. Some of them are good writers, but that in itself isn't enough.

Richard Curtis, one of the top agents, answered questions in this month's Agent & Editors column in the Mystery Writers of America Magazine. When asked if he accepts e-mail queries he said what most agents would say: "No. My agency has a tried and true system of reviewing mail queries. There's no way to screen e-mail queries . . ."

If you write ( not e-mail) an agent you must have a terrific portfolio to present and a track record of magazine sales, etc. That's what the review process is all about before an agency will proceed further. They do a thorough job of checking you out. That's why Curtis also says what writers must do: "Write and sell genre fiction such as romance, science fiction, mysteries and thrillers. The agents will find you."

A New York agent has advantages. When asked about that, Curtis said, "I didn't know there was anyplace besides New York. Seriously, the thing about New York is that it is a locus for energy. Authors visiting the city to meet with their publishers and agents return home electrified and revitalized with the charge of high voltage they get here. The 'New York Minute' isn't called that for nothing." I found that to be true when we were able to attend monthly functions in New York.

Unless you are hoping to be signed by a large agency with many specialist agents on its payroll, it is vital to contact agents specializing in your field. If you write romance it is futile to contact an agent specializing in mysteries.

Agents know the editors, know what each likes and doesn't like. They lunch with them, socialize with them, see them at meetings, know which of them to contact with a particular piece of work.

The idea that there was a time when "over the transom" work had much hope is a myth. Few things emerge successfully from the slush pile or ever have. As far back as 1923 an aunt of mine learned that the hard way. At the University of Michigan she was considered a brilliant writer, one of the finest the school had ever had. She wrote for their most prestigious publications. The professors loved her. When she went to New York she couldn't even get her foot in the door although she had several fine manuscripts and a long list of sales to major magazines.

No one should ever forget it's a tough, highly competitive business in which even established writers are never sure of success with their next book. That doesn't mean anyone should ever give up if they are determined to make the grade and possess the talent to do so. It requires great persistence, a strong backbone, a thick skin and a good agent.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat May 31, 2008 11:39 am

That's true to a degree, Dick. However, many top agents will most certainly look at your work even if you do not have magazine or newspaper credits. Richard Curtis is a top agent, but he's not the only one. And the ones I spoken with at conferences as well as by direct mail and email are interested in what's on the page you're presenting to them, not what you've done in the past.
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat May 31, 2008 12:11 pm

Brenda,
you're right. Whether it be books or whatever, what a person has done in the past is now history. I think Dick also made reference to that in a different thread.
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Brenda Hill
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat May 31, 2008 12:18 pm

Hi Abe! We just had a horrible heat wave and I was daydreaming about your hikes to the castle. How wonderful. *sigh*
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Abe F. March
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Abe F. March

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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat May 31, 2008 10:23 pm

Yes Brenda,
I am fortunate. The forest is a great place to be when it is hot and hiking up the mountain has its rewards as well. Thick castle walls remain cool and the reward of refreshment helps.
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rainbow689
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PostSubject: Re: Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary?   Opinion: Is the arrogance necessary? EmptySat Aug 02, 2008 10:52 am

probably a bit tardy to this thread but it's not only agents, eons ago back in England publishers were arrogant to. My first ever website was an 'up yours' to those that rejected my words, here in all it's glory are names being named!

http://www.fortunecity.co.uk/roswell/spells/158/03.html

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