And you thought Miss Snark was tough!!!

I love the new Gawker publishing insider!

This post applies to agents too.

Have you ever noticed that the only ones who say "we are just the best of friends" are authors?

I don't think I've ever heard an agent say anything like that about an author. And if you have, I'll be glad to hear about it.


Anonymous said...

Steve Malk of Writer's House said that of Linda Smith. Just google their names.

Anonymous said...

Kristin Nelson recently blogged about something similar. This is a great subject for writers to be aware of. Apparently, some are totally oblivious.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute! We know where the editor gets paid. But the agent surely is on the author's side. Please do not destroy the last bit of hope left to an author.

Anonymous said...

That biker story is too awful! I always figured I wouldn't be best buds with my agent/editor...it is a strange relationship, because you do want to have that perfect fit (or as close as possible) like you would in dating/marriage; but at the same time, it's not a personal relationship -- it's business!

Anonymous said...

I've been doing this for 20 years, so some of my authors have become my true friends. I've been to their weddings, kids' christenings and birthday parties, and even gone on non-book vacations with them.

But, I had a college friend who became my author, and that didn't work out. I now recommend old friends and family to other agents.

Two of my authors who had become friends left me as an agent (one wanted to go in a direction I didn't agree with and the other thought he could do a better job himself - not), but we are still friends.

I love what I do, but Dean Koontz was the one who told me to always remember that it's their writing career, not mine. Writers (and friends) have to do what's best for them. Sometimes, they even have to make mistakes. If you really like and respect each other and are true freinds, the friendship will endure.

I think it's much easier to be friends with a writer when you're an estalished agent and your career isn't dependant on their's.

But, even when I was a baby agent, I always believed that my deeper work relationships were with writers. Most of the editors I came to consider as friends either left publishing to become writers (and asked me to agent them) or agents.

I also have friends who are agents.

Lori Perkins

Anonymous said...

"Wait a minute! We know where the editor gets paid. But the agent surely is on the author's side. Please do not destroy the last bit of hope left to an author."

Until an author is established and bringing in regular money to an agent, the relationship the agent has with the editor is more important. Duh. You want an agent for their relationships.

An agent is not your friend. Your agent is your business partner. If you make it personal you're making a mistake.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* I have to admit I'm finding these posts generally patronizing - perhaps snarkronizing? I, like many, enjoy your blog, Miss Snark, but I tire of things like this recent link to Gawker. Of course publishing is a business, but business relationships can include friendships. What a sad world we would live in if we could not? That some might be unaware of divided loyalties is fair, but these posts seem to paint authors with one, broad brush. An editor, just like any customer, or boss, or whatever, doesn't have to like you or vice-versa, but that doesn't mean he/she can't like you.

Kate Thornton said...

Writing is such a solitary pursuit that it would be easy to think that the one *other* person, your agent, who shares in or believes in your work is also your friend and soul mate. After all, who else revels in this magical thing you have created?

But it is not so.

It is also easy to believe your fabulous agent is also working for and with only you.

Also not so. Your agent has lots of others, you are not the one and only.

Sigh. By the time the novel is finished and you have an agent, you have spent countless lonely hours writing, perhaps to the mystification and alienation of your real friends, family, pets and potential SOs.

So once the book is done and in the hands of your trusted agent, do some living. Regain friends, family, social and sex lives, pets, your smile, and the ability to sit up straight. Then got out there and promote while getting started on the next opus.

Anonymous said...

This is bang on. I recently sold a second short story to an editor. Previously we’d exchanged emails about some books we both enjoyed, but I never took this to mean we were “friends.” As the editor was a bit late responding to my submission, I sent a follow up letter. The editor responded promptly and mentioned next time, feel free to send an email. I will certainly do that and only now that I've been invited. I would never abuse that kind of privilege. I consider myself to be a professional and while courtesy and friendliness are part of it, I always remember it’s business.

Anonymous said...

Ever get the feeling that many agents and editors feel that publishing would be so much more enjoyable if it weren't for all those pesky authors they have to deal with?

Anonymous said...

I love my agent, I really do--she puts up with me, sells my books, and stands strong between me and the Big Bad Editor who sometimes tries to blow down those books. She does amazing and impossible things and with a charming smile to take out the sting.

When we hang at the bar she buys drinks and because she's so cute, the bartenders invariably smile and up the alcohol content, which cheers everyone.

When guys come to the table I get the pick of the leftovers 'cause she's cute and I'm not, and I don't mind a bit.

But this is a Business Thing and we both know that. Nothing wrong with getting along well with co-workers.

If, dog forbid, we should come to a parting, it will be a friendly Business Thing and I'll always be glad to buy her a drink in turn and ask after her family, same as usual.

I can't imagine ever being mad at her for anything simply because she IS a total professional and does her job very well indeed.

The least I can do is be a pro right back at her.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever noticed that the only ones who say "we are just the best of friends" are authors?

And, we're the dirtiest of liars when we say it, too.

We'd tell you the truth, but it would be bad for business. Authors are required to love their agents and editors, and never say anything about them except to flatter their sensibilities and lavish them with praise.

Don't feel too guilty about this. We're natural born liars. We'd probably do it even if you didn't require it.

Anonymous said...

My agent and I really are very close friends, though this is because we were friends before she became an agent. I think we're pretty good at drawing the line between what's personal and what's business, though -- it wouldn't work any other way. When it's time to talk contracts, she's as blunt with me as she would be with anyone else; when it's time to go out to a movie, we talk about the movie, not the contracts. I suspect that when the agent relationship starts before the friendship, this line is not as easy to draw.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting a little tired of all the attitude too, John. I think we're hearing so much of it because, well, it's the agents and editors and publishers who are putting up these essays after all. And when a writer complains, like Anne Stuart, many on the non-writer side of the industry, including our Miss Snark, are quick to call her an idiot.

Yes, I know Anne was talking in specifics, and all this complaining about writers is in general. But I'll tell you, I would not want to work with the editor who wrote the Gawker article under any circumstances (need to check and see who that was). Work with someone who says "you can't trust me, I can't trust you"? Not a chance.

Anonymous said...

You're kidding, right? This agent is complaining that he actually had to talk to a writer face to face. That's not personal friendship; it's business, especially in any industry dealing with agents. The agent is bucking up alot of fragile egos and stakeholders as well as smoothing out any miscommunications. This is often most effectively done in person, and easier for an agent to do with a client who feels good because they've met face-to-face.
To me, Unsolicited is just venting, "Waaaaah, I had to use social skills in my entirely service-based industry!" I agree that one does not have to make friends of one's customers, but I don't believe that's what the article was about.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Gawker's take on "more than one publisher" being a red flag. Unless they are superstars, you often find that people creating books for children have had to work with numerous houses if they want to keep their work out there.

In a perfect world I would just work with the same wonderful editor forever, whom I do consider a friend. But sometimes what I am really juiced about is not right for her or her list or the general editorial consensus where she works. So you have to be willing to "date others."

On the agent side, I have heard one Kid lit agent speak at conferences, and he is very vocal with "this is more that a business relationship" statements. I think he even goes on cozy retreats with all of his authors.

Just can't see Miss Snark doin' that....

Anonymous said...

My first agent did. I didn't want a BFF, I wanted a business relationship, and this was a source of increasing strain as the years went on--though she did amazing work on my behalf, at 10%, which is why I stayed with her as long as I did. Eventually she went around the bend and did some very strange and unbalanced things, the upshot of which was, I now have a very businesslike, business-minded, feet totally on the ground agent with whom I work (key word here--work) extremely well, and even after ten years I remain boggled by some of the things Agent the First got up to at the end.

I'm not even sure where she is now. Probably in an ashram. Good luck to her, says I.

Your agent is not your friend. Really. And shouldn't be.

As for editors, one of my closest personal friends is also one of my editors, but my friend is not my editor, if you take my meaning. When it comes to business, my agent does his job and I become Author dealing with Editor. We've kept the two sides of our relationship scrupulously separate for many years now, and it works because we both understand that business is business. If she has to put the screws in it's by no means personal, and likewise on my part. Having an agent in the middle makes this easier to do--the tough stuff can go through him, and we can maintain a friendship even while we're at it tooth and nail over a deal or a ms.

Ski said...

Having been around the block more times than I'm ready to admit, and having been in business in a traditional partnership I will tell you that I keep to the sage rule - don't dip your pen in the company ink.

I say that because the words friend and business partner conjure up two completely different relationships. Each is a nice thing, but you are asking for trouble when you try and combine the two. Oh it'll be nice for a time, but business always requires tough decisions, and the publishing business is no exception. I'm sure there are wonderful friendships out there in author/publishing land, but that's one place I wouldn't care to visit. I would look for a great working relationship with an agent, but I wouldn't want it to go any further than that.


Bernita said...
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Jim Oglethorpe said...

Monkey Type is right. This is all feeling like a high school cafeteria flashback. Not every author and author in waiting is a desperate idiot looking to idol worship an agent or editor. I'm sure all of us can come up with our own worst case scenario co-worker aka personal stalker story but it just sounds so patronizing.

Zany Mom said...

I'm a professional and make it a point to be friendly with clients, but I do not become their friends.

The worst ones start to call at home for free advice, or demand discounts, or other such nonsense.

My true friends never call me at home about business matters and pay their bills with a smile.

This is a business relationship, period. Keep it professional, yet friendly. But not FRIENDS.

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something here? Why the hell would anyone care? I have my circle of friends from college and it's going to be pretty tough for anyone to infiltrate that at this point. I don't need friends; I have those. I need an editor.


Anonymous said...

Maybe my agent is trying to tell me this...

Anonymous said...

For those of you getting tired of reading things like Gawker's post, or Miss Snark's links to them, I've got two words for you: Stop Reading. Two more: Move on. And the final three words: Don't be rude.

Hello? This is an educational-in-the-form-of-entertainment blog. It is for everyone from the truly clueless to the multi-published, and if you've followed along over the history of this blog, even folks who publish/agent them are readers. If you already know everything, you might not need to be here, but it sure is fun, isn't it? So if you don't like something, don't read it, keep your mouth shut and let those of us who enjoy the blog go on with our happy little clueless lives, raising our gin pails to the likes of agents like Miss Snark who post those links, whether they pertain to us or not.

Anonymous said...

So next time I should leave the bike at home and take the subway?

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher. I've been told, "Don't give out your home phone number! The parents will drive you nuts!" I always give out my home number. I tell kids to call if they have a question. I tell parents to call if they have a question. Guess what? The parents will only call when it's an emergency. The kids can rarely get permission to call. (5th graders) In three months, I've received 4 or 5 calls at home. I'm thinking these kinds of boundaries are built by respect. Maybe that's why people get offended -- they feel disrespected when, like in the post, their time is wasted, their space is invaded. Thanks for the link. The recent comments on burn-out were interesting to think about as well.

Debbie and Joy said...

Thomas Pynchon married his agent, so I guess they're friends.

Anonymous said...

I think maybe it isn't the friendships themselves that are causing problems here--it's when people have unrealistic business expectations because they're "friends" with whoever they're doing business with. Like expecting them to give you special treatment somehow: bend the rules, devote unreasonable amounts of time to you, or whatever. Taking advantage of a relationship like that isn't real friendship anyway.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an agent yet, but I've always thought that an author-agent relationship would be very similar to a client-lawyer relationship, or a patient-surgeon relationship. The agent, lawyer, and surgeon are busy professionals whom you employ to perform their unique skills on your behalf. You go into the relationship understanding that they will do their best for you while working on your case, but that they also have other clients and patients, and will be concentrating on their cases when not working on your case. They don't hang around and hold your hand, and it is not in anyone's best interest for the two of you to become too chummy. Professional objectivity is best for all involved.

Anonymous said...

When it comes to bestselling authors, it's the agents and editors who get all kissy-kissy and chummy.
You've never seen such groveling. It's lovely to witness.

Kel-Bell said...

This gives me hope that I could indeed be a model client for someone, someday.

First, I write well, and I know it.

Second, I have very few friends, most of whom I avoid.

Third, I am intensely loyal, (which is exactly why I have few friends.)

And fourth, in spite of my tendency to recoil from plastic interpersonal relationships, I love public speaking and travel.

Now, if I could just learn to finish one of the seven books I have started, all will be well with the world.

Alas, your blog is such a distraction, my dear.

Anonymous said...

You know, I'd never read Gawker Unsolicited before. Between the posts I read there, and the the last couple of posts here, I never realized how despised authors actually are by those who are potential representation and potential editors. :( I mean, crap, according to this Unsolicited, authors are nothing but a pain in the ass, too bad we are people only to be tolerated as a necessary evil. Hmm...one wonders why, if authors are such JERKS, why so many choose to earn their paychecks working in publishing?

It's enough to take the wind out of my sails and wonder why should I try to break into an industry where I might be viewed in such a derogatory way, or as a lesser being.

But I WILL keep trying, I suppose. Being viewed as a pain in the ass is nothing new to me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and on the being friends thing-- I totally get that. Friendships and the job, whatever job it may be, are tricky, and can lead to messy situations I could live without.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I'm doing it wrong, but I have as much affection for my agent and editor as I do for friends I've known far longer. It wasn't what I planned to do: I was all for strictly business, no social stuff, but that didn't work. This does.

I think the key here is finding a relationship that works for both parties. I've hung out with my US editor & my lovely UberAgent. I've sent them little thank you things & random "wow, you're awesome" letters--just as I do for friends and family. My UK editor & I even have a tattoo visit planned when I'm in London. There is a level of friendship with each of them that I didn't anticipate, but I definitely enjoy. It works for me.

I'm a control freak though, so in order for me to put my life in their hands I *have* to trust them. Trust, for me, isn't possible if I don't consider them friends to varying degrees. I don't think I could do it the other way.

M. Marr