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.