11.03.2005

You Sux..now pay me...part 2

A Snarkling responds to YOU SUCK ...NOW PAY ME posted below:

A few days ago, Miss Snark posted that if a best selling author turns in a subpar book, neither her agent or her editor will tell her that the book is bad, because the author will fire the agent, buy back her contract, and find a new agent & house that will tell her she's great.


The more I think about this statement, the more it upsets me. I count on my agent and editor to be my guides. To fight for me, but to also help grow my career. If I can't depend on them to tell me when my book needs work, who can I count on? It doesn't matter if you have the highest profile agent in the industry--if she won't be your conscience and your guide as well as your advocate, you have nothing. A great agent/author relationship is a two way street. It's not a one-way trip down Admiration Lane. If my agent didn't stop me from making bad decisions, then what am I paying her for? So she can stand back and let me crash and burn? No way.

But I guess that's me. Some people simply want an agent who gets them money and then gets out of their way. Not me. I'm not an idiot. I don't have delusions of grandeur that I can succeed on my own. I know I need a partner, a team, and it starts with my agent.


The rest of the post is on her blog here.

Now first let's all remember that what I said was "there's no motivation" to tell an author s/he sux. NOT that it will not happen. It probably does happen. Those are the books we think are great but may not have started out quite so good. It’s just very risky to tell an author who brings in millions of dollars that the book isn’t that good.

And I don't mean to convey that all authors would pack their bags and decamp, but I assure you that many would (and HAVE!) And perhaps rightly so. An agent who doesn't think your work is good, and an editor who agrees is probably NOT the right person to be on your team. I've been saying that from the get-go.

Here's the rub: Opinions vary. We've seen that here. I've been frothing at the mouth about Robert Parker's crappy writing for months. Yet, there are people brave enough to post comments disagreeing with me. Given it's my blog, and I have a viper tongue, my guess is there are additional people who disagree with me and were just unwilling to risk posting their opinion. (Not that Miss Snark would take their head off or anything...guillotining is illegal after all..isn't it?).

As an agent do I tell an author I think the work sux? Sometimes yes. But often I'm not completely confident my taste mirrors that of the author's general readership. Agents get jaded. We read for fresh and new a LOT. Many readers aren't looking for that in their old favorites. They LIKE same and ordinary. That's exactly what several of the posts about Parker have said: we like this - it's comfort food.

As a reader, I think Robert Parker’s new book sux. As an agent, I’d be happily cashing a six figure advance.

My job as an agent is primarily to make sure a writer gets the best deal s/he can. Is the Cause of Literature served when Swifty Lazar gets Random House to change boilerplate acceptance language for Joan Collins? Not hardly. Who is served? His client of course. That was his job.

That doesn't mean I have to like it, or that I can't rail about it on this blog.

I'm glad my beloved Snarklings would rather dance naked in Times Square than publish a book that sux. THAT serves the Cause of Literature more than any statement of integrity by an agent.

12 comments:

Ric said...

It's been a long time since I've been to the Big Apple, but, as I recall, at that time people were dancing naked in Times Square.

Did it really become civilized again?

Somebody buy my book so I can come see.

Nicholas Colt said...

ric,

I'll buy your book; but, if I think it sux, you have to do the bunny hop in the birthday suit thing.

Times Square baby.

New Year's Eve would be a good night...

kitty said...

I'll pass on the dancing naked part, but I'd really appreciate an agent who is honest with me.

Anne said...

What time of year is this Times Square date? Let's be reasonable, I'm no polar bear.

I'm reading Jane Smiley's THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT THE NOVEL (recommended) in which she discusses her editors and agents reacting to a new ms she loves, but they don't. Very funny. They call it "the material," unable to cross the line into calling it "the novel."

Stacy said...

Miss Snark is right, there is little motivation to tell an author that a tree need not have died for their precious manuscript. Freelancers just mark and go on with their lives, satisfied that there are no grammatical errors, and company hacks slave over the bubbling manuscript of evil, rewriting crap way into the night.

Just the way things are.

Devoted Snarkling said...

At the risk of enraging Miss Snark forevermore, along these lines, I need to say that I just finished reading Jennifer Weiner's new book, GOODNIGHT NOBODY and I absolutely, positively HATED the ending so much I may never buy another book of hers again.

It pains me to say this, because I think Ms. Weiner writes genuine and funny like nobody's business, and I was thorougly engrossed in the book UNTIL THE LAST 20 PAGES--when it just got stupid. The ending was like a bad Keystone Cops movie and I could just envision it being turned into a screenplay with the mom/housewife heroine saving the day in the end against ALL logic. I really felt ripped off in so many ways (which I won't go into because some of you Snarklings might be reading or planning to read the book), like the author had a deadline and she was potty-training Lucy and her husband was demanding dinner that wasn't pre-packaged, and she just said, "what the ..., let's get this over with so I can get on with my life."

Curious to see what Miss Snark and Snarklings think. I think in this case, the author would have benefited from some straight-up advice and another revision or two.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Oh Nicholas, please don't make ric bunnyhop in the birthday suit..Sheeesh...word pictures...ric, you are the cause of that 'picture in the head' thing AGAIN!

Devoted snarkling, thanks for stopping when you did, I'm reading it!

Bernita said...

Hmmm.
Flesh-colored body suit, a feathered mask or boa...
Ric and I will dance a duet and Bonnie will up-chuck all over her keyboard...

Dave Kuzminski said...

Body suit? Body suit? That wasn't in the original proposal. Have you no pride? Next thing you know, you'll be letting Bonnie just pour a can of vegetable soup on her keyboard or substituting water in Miss Snark's gin pail.

Bernita said...

Pride?
Think of the Pride of Hamtramck, Michigan!
It can be a very transparent body suit though.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Yeewwww...all of y'all. I'm going to require that you all wear tiaras like I'm going to have to do! (I need a drink....of expresso, forget the coffee today!)

Bernita....word pictures...WORD PICTURES....Auugghhh!

Dave...no vegetable soup....peas soup...think EXORCIST, with the head spinning thing!

Ric said...

okay guys, very very funny.

see what you started, Nicholas?

"If the book really sux..."
which of course, imho, it doesn't.

Bernita and I will be inviting Bonnie, Miss Snark and a whole host of Snarklings to the dance.

Bunny suits doing the bunny hop.
Bonnie can wear the tiara.

things to do: order industrial strength waterproof keyboard....

Word pictures, Bonnie.