Oh so helpful.....ya right

A Snarkling offers up a morsel of amusement, with a serious question:

Dear Miss Snark,

I just received a rejection letter that was standard until it got to this:

"As you probably know, there are a number of other ways to find publication. There are companies that will supply your book for very low fees. Some of them advertise that they will do e-books and others will print copies on demand if they accept your manuscript."

I'm fairly new to this, but it took me so completely by surprise that I had to laugh. Would you look upon this as a red flag against the agent? Or could it just mean that the agent is sick of getting hounded by desperate writers?

Confused and amused,

One of the great requirements for a good agent is the desire to be helpful. Good agents really WANT their clients to succeed..and not just for the money.

I think her intentions are pure but it sure sounds patronizing doesn't it?

It reminds me of a friend's story from this summer when she was interning with a radio station. The station had just changed email configurations so my friend's thankless task was to email everyone on the data base to give them new info..and process all the responses.

One chipper little publicist at a big New York fancy pants publisher emailed back.

"I didn't find you on our data base, but I've added you in. Make sure you fax us your review copy requests on letterhead. And," she added, oh so helpfully, "you should get your show listed in Bacons! All the big houses use it to find shows."

My friend didn't know whether to laugh or cry. First of all, clearly the publicist hadn't figured out that if she was getting an email, my friend's show was already ON the data base. It's pretty much the only way you get that info is to be on the list already.

Furthermore, Bacons, for those of you who don't know, is a massive tome with a listing of every show, station, producer, and contact info all across the country. There are volumes for radio, tv, newspapers, and a separate one for sub categories like health, and one just for New York City.

Being listed in Bacons means you get flooded FLOODED with people pitching books. My friend interning at a high profile show would no more list the show, producer and contact info with Bacons than she would publish the info on Craigslist. She knows who needs to know her contact info and she gives it to them. (That's why some agents aren't listed in Writers Market and aren't in AAR's searchable data base: they don't want to hear from people they haven't solicited)

This well intentioned but clearly inexperienced publicist just hadn't grasped that idea. She was just trying to be nice and helpful.

In answer to your question I'd just chalk it up to trying to be helpful and not having a clue how it sounds on the other end. Maybe she'll read the blog.

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