12.17.2005

Churling..the new Olympic sport

Miss Snark,
what is your snarky take on agents who write their own books?

I'm not referring to merely books on writing or the industry, but works of fiction.

Am I churlish to worry that they'll be focusing more on selling their next MS than mine?

I checked out one agency, a boutique from the looks of it, that looked promising until I compared their client list with their associate agents: two of the agents were clients.And there are other agents out there with the writing bug.

My initial reaction is, "Whoa. It takes me a lot of time to create a good, marketable (one hopes, anyway) book, not to mention the time it would take to shop it myself if I were my own agent.

So? Churlish or not, on my part?


Well, I'd be the worst kind of hypocrite if I said writing for fun was the hallmark of an agent who didn't focus on her work, given I write this blog.

Agenting is not a zero sum game. If an agent writes and sells her own novels it doesn't mean less for you. It's more like she'll have more empathy for you, more experience to draw on, and more sales and contacts in the industry.

It's hard to trust that is true before you have an agent, a contract and a finished book, but it is.

On the other hand, do NOT get me started about book reviewers on staff at national magazines or newspapers who also write novels. I have a complete rant about that involving power point slides.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cynthia writes:

Thanks. Guess I should have figured out by now that a good agent can chew gum and walk a straight line at the same time. You, Your Royal Snarkiness, certainly seem to have multi-tasking down pat!

And it takes a VERY secure male to wear pink proudly!

Bernita said...

Pink is so Elvis.

E. Dashwood said...

The lowest rejection I received had a spiel for the agent's novel. I was happy to note on Amazon the lowness of his ranking.

Sela Carsen said...

What about people who run e-publishing companies and shill their own books there? That's always struck me as slightly off.

Diana Peterfreund said...

But, Sela... that's how a lot of e publishers began. When Tina Engler started Ellora's cave, she was selling all her own books there under a handful of different pseudonyms so that the publisher appeared to have many different authors already in their stable. The ploy worked and the publisher built up a huge stable of authors and turned itself into a multi-million dollar business. But often, when someone is starting an independent publisher, they are doing it in part to create a showcase for their own novels. I'm not saying that it's automatically legit, but sometimes it is. One of the benefits of owning your own shop is, well, owning your own shop.

David Isaak said...

I think it's great when agents write their own novels! Four reasons why:

1) It gives them some idea what the rest of us are going through.

2) You can read their novels and decide if their literary sensibility matches with yours enough to bother querying them.

3) It gives you something to chit-chat about with them if they happen to end up at your lunch table at a conference.

4) Most of them are lousy. I find this bizarrely inspirational.