Dear Miss Snark:
I just returned from a conference where I witnessed first hand why agents, publishers, publicists HATE authors and I am embarrassed for my kind. At the agents panel where about a dozen agents answered questions from the audience, a woman stood up at the mike and attacked one of the agents in the panel. She turned to a specific agent and said "Ms. Agent, I sent you a query and got a form letter back saying you were not accepting submissions at this time. If that is true, WHY ARE YOU HERE?"
The woman continued to attack the panel and argue with them about the query process. Why would she do this? She not only alienated herself from that particular agent, but the entire panel. All of the attendees at my table were cringing and I was looking for Killer Yapp to drag her away from the mike.
Killer Yapp was busy calling the Animal Control officer to come save him from the impending Snarkplosion I'm sure.
Of course, her behavior was shortsighted, stupid really. We can all agree on that.
But imagine this nitwit had presented herself with some degree of decorum.
It's actually a legitimate question: if an agent doesn't want new clients, or isn't taking submissions why are they at a writing conference presumably looking for clients.
First, writing conferences can book their agent roster (particularly very good, and in demand agents) a year in advance. Let's all agree a lot can happen in a year.
Second, writing conferences need the expertise of agents who are industry savvy whether they have a full client list or not.
Third, "we're not taking submissions right now" can be code for a lot of things, primarily "please don't ever write to me again cause you're a nitwit".
Agents go to conferences for a lot of reasons. They don't get paid for it so don't think of it as some sort of paid vacation. They're hoping to find good work and help people navigate this industry.
I've seen people behave badly at conference workshops. It's actually quite amusing to watch the other people in the room literally tilt to get themselves out of the nitwit's orbit.