Bad bad agent

When I was looking for an agent, one rejection came with a note saying the agent was busy trying to sell his novel. Please buy it. There was an ad attached to the rejection. Very tacky.I did look up the book on Amazon. Very low.

oh please tell me you are gently pulling Miss Snark's well shod and striped stockinged leg.

If this is not a joke, I want to grab that pencil neck geek agent by the oversize ego and squeeze him till his brain has room for a transfusion of common sense.



Jarsto said...
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Shawn said...

You know if this is the same agent I saw something about this on one of those rejection websites.

Bernita said...

Curles me liver, that. More than gin.

Jarsto said...

Posted this as the first comment, then noticed a couple of errors (note to self, check better) so now the correct(ed) version:

If an agent is trying to sell his novel to potential clients (even rejected ones) what do you think he's trying to sell when he talks to editors?

Miss Snark, I hope that injection will be delivered directly to the brain, using a stiletto. Regardless of the performance of the agent as an agent sending an ad this way strikes me as incredibly bad taste.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I've seen this sort of thing from none other than Donald Maass, who included an ad for his 'Write the Breakout Novel' book with his rejection slip.

Or his trained monkey did it. I'm sure he's too busy to read his own slush.

Anonymous said...

There's another aspect to this as well. Even when an agent is advertising a non-competing book -- say, a book on publishing or getting an agent -- they're bound to be distracted. I've heard a fair bit of gossip about a Big Name Agent with a book on getting published (from all I've heard, a good book) who's had quite a few Big Name Clients jump ship over the past few years because they felt he focusing so much on being a guru that he was forgetting to, y'know, represent them.

From the writer's point of view -- I might buy the book, but I'm not likely to submit to him. I've got enough focus problems, I don't need an agent to help with that. *grin*

Anonymous said...

Some years back, Writer’s Digest ran “25 Agents who WANT to read your work”
I submitted to the listed Donald Mass Agency and the “Not for us” came back by return mail--along with a plug for his $%^& book!

I see WD has run that article a few times since then, I wonder if old Don is giving WD a percentage?

Dark feelings towards all agents remain.

Anonymous said...

I heartily agree that slipping a "buy my book!" flyer in with a rejection is tacky as all get-out, but in Maass' defense, I know that he does read submissions: after he read mine, he called me and discussed it with me at length. It was obvious he'd read the whole thing, too, not just the first few pages.

He said he was too busy to take me on personally, but recommended one of the other agents he works with, and we're doing just dandy.

PS. He gives an absolutely killer workshop, too.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I'm sitting here trying to find a nice way to put into words my experience with an agency, the owner of which plugs his own book.

I can't find a nice way. As one very kind published author once said to me, "Don't burn your bridges." I'm trying to follow her advice.

Yet, it seems to me that their focus is not on the business of author representation. It is on themselves and their own ventures.

I want my SASE back, thank you very much. Six months of not hearing is a bit much. One rude email back from another agent associated with them didn't do it for me either.

You know what? I submitted my material prematurely. I know it. It wasn't ready. But, I resent being ridiculed.

My book is far better now. Someone will publish it. Maybe I'll be the next {insert name of famous author}. I'll make Miss Snark or some agent a bazillion bucks. But . . . I'll never contact that agency again. Ever.

One day at some function I may meet the rude email writer and her boss, the book-writing-vain-can't-bother to stick a rejection slip in the SASE and mail it Agent.

I suppose, since it is the thing we princesses do, I shall be polite. Maybe.

Another point too: I know agents must see some of the worst possible writing. It must be mind numbing. Yet, you agents are in the business of making money off the writing of talented people. A little politeness to those just learning their craft will be money in the bank. Try it.

Anonymous said...

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said it!

We content providers for agents et al, are exploited and then ridiculed. IF agents are only interested in the upper 1% of new writers (of perfect queries) they should be up-front about it. Enough with “the 25 agents who WANT to read your actual work.”

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...
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Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I don't feel exploited. I chose to write. I wasn't blind to the process by which one's work is published. I chose this.

My point is that good sense, self interest, and the profit motive should move agents to politeness, even to the encouragement of new authors. It's in their self interest, even if it is foreign to their ethical makeup.

Obviously there are agents who do this. Miss Snark does it thourgh this blog. One incredible agent spent time with me in an Instant Message. But, too many are just rude. And they're being rude to those who just might make them money with a bit of mild encouragement.

I sell books of the rare and antiquarian sort. Most of the authors I sell have been pretty much dead for a long time. Ok? But, those who buy from me are living, breathing people.

It is not in my nature, nor is it in my interest, to reply to the uninformed, sometimes a bit foolish, ocassionally rude emails as if these people don't matter. They are the foundation of my business. Without them I'm a book collector and not a book seller.

If I can kindly educate a new collector, he becomes an informed buyer. It doesn't take much more time to write three helpful sentences than it does to write one rude one. And let me tell you, I often write extensively. I want educated, informed buyers. They make me money!

A case in point is the correspondence between a professor in Budapest and me, here off in the wilds of the American far west. One question followed another all about the same book. I was convinced from the first that he would never be a buyer. A year later (and about six patient and longish emails later) he purchased a moderately expensive (225.00 US) book.

You agents are busy people. Do you think we new writers aren't? We're your potential income for the future. Cultivate us if you see something worth while in our writing. Be polite if you don't.

That's my point.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is sad, there are agents and editors with super egos lurking around the corners of our mad, mad, world.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Maass does that "here's a rejection notice, please buy my book" thing. So does the venerable Albert Zuckerman. Tacky as hell.

On the other hand, if I'm going to query an agent, I try and find out who they are first--so I had read Maass and Zuckerman before querying.

Anonymous said...

Pixie princess, the problem with your comparison is that you are courting potential customers, so it's worth your time to educate them. The agent-writer relationship is different. And agents do not have the time to educate every single writer-hopeful (and would you want an agent who did have all that time?)

Agents are not teachers.

I believe the majority of legitimate agents are not interested in crushing egos. They just need to tell thousands of people "no" and most of them are going to take that far too personally.

Jenna Glatzer said...

I found it! Robert H. Lieberman was the agent promoting his novel, right?

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

I didn't suggest that agents educate every new writer. I am suggesting politeness to everyone.

And, yes, if you are an agent and you see something beyond the normal in a submission you're turning down, a sentence or two of encouragement would help.

That's not asking a lot. It's not even asking for much more than one could put in a form letter.

Even a rather blunt "lots of imagination, but you need to work on your grammar skills" is more helpful than "get lost."

While I'm back on this, my most confusing rejection was "impeccably written, but not for me."

What the heck does that mean? I have good grammar? But I'm boring as heck? Or, did it mean, "I don't represent fantasy. You got the wrong agent. We don't 'do'fantasy anymore."

Can we be a tad bit clearer next time?

Miss Snark said...

Yep Jenna, that's the one.