11.30.2006

Tizz the Season

Miss Snark is your agent. She is not your friend because:

1. you have enough friends. you only get one agent (at a time).

2. You can not invite her to your wedding/kids' parties/holiday festivities and she won't be insulted.

3. You can't call her on Sunday to discuss your marital woes.

4. You can't call her on any day of the week to discuss your mother.

5. Miss Snark is going to hear people say disparaging things about you and not send her seconds with a summons to the field of honor.


You'll notice none of these things are "miss snark is not your friend because she doesn't like you".

I think it's insane that I actually though I'd write "but I do like my clients, I do". Of COURSE I do, and your agent will like you, or does like you. But we are your AGENTS and our role in your life is different than that of a friend.

I can't understand why people get in a tizzy about this. Do you tizz if your dentist doesn't ask where you got your shoes? Do you tizz if your college professor posts office hours and asks you not call her at home on Sunday absent an emergency? Of course you don't.

I fully expect long standing, profitable, warm and cordial relationships with each and every one of my clients. I don't expect them to invite me to their birthday parties and I'm not offended if they don't. I am however, hostile as hell, if they fail to acknowledge me in the books I've sold for them.

55 comments:

Kate Thornton said...

We like you too.

And always check the Acknowledgements - you know you are there.

Kim Stagliano said...

"Miss Snark is your agent." I'm printing that out and placing it under my pillow. "Miss Snark is your agent."

Sigh......

Chumplet said...

You can easily like people without necessarily friends. I think the term 'friend' is used a little loosely these days, anyway.

I like most of the sixty people in my office, but only about five are friends who I confide in. It would be silly to think that the gal who answers the phones would be interested in my daily angst.

However, there are a lot of people I don't like, but I remain civil because I work with them.

Therefore, they like me. I think...

Anonymous said...

Maybe some of the tizzying comes because different people have different ideas of what constitutes a friendship. Some of us would call a long standing, warm and cordial relationship a friendship even if it's primarily business oriented. Whereas others of us limit the title "friends" to be the people that we hang around with on weekends and get advice on new hairstyles from. So whether an agent should be your friend or not really depends a lot on what exactly a friend is to you.

Craig Steffen said...

Yes, but there is also the sort of person to whom co-workers are de-facto friends.

Just to pick an environment at random, small academic departments are certainly like that. There are parties once every month or so that someone has at their house, and everyone in the department and their spouse goes. You get to see their house, meet their kids, and sometimes have a chance to talk about stuff that really doesn't work in the office. That's the sort of department that you HOPE for as an academic.

Since a writer's relationship with their agent is so very important to the writer's success, I imagine some people just instinctively want to add a personal edge to it. The author is going to see it as a one to one relationship. You, of course, as the agent, have (hopefully) hundreds of clients that you're hawking work for and you can't afford to be chummy with your clients, or you'd never get anything done.

There was a discussion at rejector.blogspot.com about giving gifts to agents. Miss Rejector pointed out that you really oughtn't send things like gift baskets. Several people got really huffy and said that it was a generous gift and that she should grateful. My response was that it's a matter of scale. If ONE of an agent's clients sends a fruit basket, that's anywhere from an inconvenience to nice. However, if every one of hundreds of clients send one, then you have a gargantuan mess and it's a really big deal to just physically get them off the premises.

Anyway...my point is that some jobs (and some people) are very social by nature, and some of your authors just do it instinctively because they really don't know any other way to be towards you, their agent, their ticket to being a published author. Some people like that don't necessarily internally understand that you are their one agent, but they are one of many clients to you.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark is obviously the greatest agent on the planet, and deserves every laurel wreath that's laid tenderly about her exquisite brow, but I'm still uneasy that it should be considered obligatory to acknowledge her in print. I have a wonderful (very distinguished) agent, whom I adore, without inviting her to my children's birthday parties. We get on very well, she is friendly and supportive, I do my job for her, and she does hers for me. End of story.

I hate the acknowledgements culture that's developed in the last ten? twenty? years. Why should I acknowledge her or anyone else when all they're doing is their job? I don't acknowledge anyone in my books, except those for whom it's a condition of my quoting their copyright work. Those slabs of witty acknowledgements to friends, agents, cake-bakers, editors, spouses and dogs look humble and charming, but are actually a way of showing off just how many wonderful people (preferably Names) think the author is wonderful. As a reader I don't want to know, and if I think the writer's backing shyly into the limelight by such means, à la T E Lawrence, I definitely don't want to know.

Or is it just a British thing, because over here the only crime worse than mass murder and cruelty to animals is Showing Off. Reams of acknowledgements are an inverted kind of showing off.

cm allison said...

Dear Miss Snark,
I think you "cleared" this up for people very succinctly! I have a problem with people who, to me, confuse "acquaintance", "co-worker", "like", with "friend". I have very few "Friends", lots of "acquaintances" and people I like. BUT for them I would not get dressed, drive to the airport, and fly to their homes at a moment's notice at 3 a.m. if they asked. But for a "friend" I would. I hope to find an agent I am compatible with, but "friends"? Think NOT, I want a bull-dog in my corner, not a face-licking commiserating Bichon. An agent can't be both.

Tattieheid said...

That's a bummer, I could do with some friends! :)

Ill-Suit said...

I think there might be an extra-added level of expectation in the somewhat intimate one-on-one relationship between author and agent…but I think this points to a bigger thing, actually, which Miss Manners has discussed numerous times, about the blurring between the work world and the social world. Who knows, maybe it’s the amount of time people spend at work or the lack of community outside of work or whatever but the expectation to make people your buddy in what used to be an exclusively professional relationship extends beyond the publishing world.

When I’m at work, I’m WORKING and because of this, I’ve been dinged, effectively, for being anti-social at work. The manager who told me did not seem to appreciate the irony.

BuffySquirrel said...

It's a British thing, anon. As is reading the whole book, even the bits you don't like, because you've PAID for it, damnit!

I often work with people I consider friends, but I try to keep the two relationships in two separate compartments. Tricky, but necessary.

cm allison said...

Sorry KY, I understand you are a "bull-dog" in poodle clothing, I'd take you too! (it's the attitude, baby!)

Nubbin said...

Miss Snark, I get it. I get it. I do and will subscribe to whatever you set as parameters of agency vs. friendship. No invitations to my parties. No calls about my mother-in-law. I do think, though, once we connect you will be calling ME to chat about such things. You will discover you like me. YOU will want to be my friend. So, will you be my agent?

Anonymous said...

"You, of course, as the agent, have (hopefully) hundreds of clients"

Dear dog, let's hope not! I'd never get a moment of my agent's time if he had hundreds.

Anonymous said...

Yeah but if George Clooney had a book for you to sell you'd be his friend I bet.

Toddie said...

Like lending money to friends, it's just NOT a good idea to fall under the delusion that just because my agent and I get along, that we're BFF. That's a great formula to ending a perfectly good relationship on a perfectly bad note.

writtenwyrdd said...

I live in a tiny rural town, and it is that friendly (or nosy if you prefer) here, that a lot of people expect to have personal interaction. If you sneeze in the next county, they know it here by the next morning.

So I think it is good, MS, that you point out the obvious--that cordial business relationships aren't personal relationships.

Because I cannot believe how many people in this one-horse town expect things to be different with the local law enforcement, doctors, dentists, and etc. just because they know them. Considering everybody knows the people in the public eye, it's a ridiculous expectation!

Wassup said...

I feel like such a DUH.

If I'd been more savvy of what's going on in the world, I wouldn't have puzzled over Miss Snark's "Do you tizz if..."

'Tis indeed a clever word, is tizz. I shall add it to my vocabulary. And thanks, Miss Snark!

Elektra said...

Second Anonmous, I now have a mental image of Miss Snark (whose face is rather blurry) teetering under the weight of 2,000 laurel wreaths, all piled atop her head.

I do think your view on acknowledgements is a bit jaded, though. For the most part, it seems authors (and I know this is why I'll do it, if I'm ever published) know their friends/family/baker will get a real kick out of seeing their name in print. Though I do think that when you acknowledge everyone from the next-door-neighbor who got your paper that one time you were away it takes the meaning out of it for the people you truly wish to thank.

michaelgav said...

Sally Field at the Academy Awards: "You like me . . . You REALLY LIKE me!"

Michaelgav at home with a Heineken in one hand and the remote control in the other: "You're an okay actress, but for crissakes, I don't even know you. And you're cutting into Sportscenter."

As I get older, it's more important to me that I don't work with assholes. I like the people I work with just fine, but come Saturday, I don't want to see them. I'm sick of them, frankly.

I have to think that if I were to spend some Saturday time with an agent, I would expect us to mostly talk about my book. (A) What the hell else do we have in common? (B) If she were to talk about someone else's book, I would immediately compare how her tone of voice sounded versus how it sounded when she talked about my book. (C) What if I didn't like how she put something -- a little inadvertant snarkiness might linger with me for the next eight days.

This is bad for me, the whole idea of hanging with an agent. (I can't believe she reps that guy... What a no-talent little shit. What kind of taste does she have?)

Also, I'm hoping that come Saturday, this agent will be absolutely freaking SICK of talking about me and my book.

r louis scott said...

So,

Logically,

If Miss Snark is NOT my agent,

Miss Snark CAN be my friend.

Call me.

Forget about that george guy.

Deezee said...

Ah, a clear difference between Hollywood and the publishing world, for in Hollywood, the agent expects/desires friend status (and hence the horrible shifting of friendships as business relations go sour.)

Manic Mom said...

I am however, hostile as hell, if they fail to acknowledge me in the books I've sold for them.

Or not invite you to the movie premiere of their novel which just so happens to star George Clooney! hahaha, wishful thinking huh? Bet you wished you were Danny Devito the other night, throwin' back with da man?

I think people want 'relationships' with their agents because writing is such a personal experience, one that grabs at your soul and rips you to shreds. I guess. I don't know.

Manic Mom said...

Oh, an addendum... my husband says there are four types of people and you shouldn't mix any of them because it would be a terrible concoction, much like gin and chocolate milk:

You've got your family.
You've got your friends.
You've got your neighbors.
You've got your co-workers.

Sometimes, in the case of when we moved from Philly to Chicago, our neighbors transitioned into the friend category. Or if someone leaves the job where you both work, and you still keep in touch, that co-worker has now become a friend.

Got it?

Is it Friday yet? I could use an appletini. And I just realized something. It is completely acceptable to DRINK with each of these categories of people! That's nice!

katiesandwich said...

With respect, perhaps the acknowledgement pet peeve thing IS a British thing, though I'm not British, so I can't be sure. But I agree with Elektra that it's nice to acknowledge certain people. I mean, when I'm published, I'm writing the acknowledgements for the ones who've helped me, no one else, and I won't give a damn who else does or doesn't read them. So it's not like I'd be doing it to show off. As far as thanking agents, well, as an unpublished author, it frustrates me to find books where the agent isn't thanked. How am I supposed to know who to send my ms to (after thorough research, of course!) if I don't know the name of the agent who represented a book that's so comparable to mine? Plus, most authors wouldn't have done half as well with getting their books published without their agents. So no offense, but it just seems wrong to me not to show appreciation, even if it is their job. Nothing wrong with letting your agent know that the job they've done is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it's not so much a British thing not to thank every man, woman and their dog as an American thing to do so. I'm neither but find the practice tiresome. Why would an agent expect to be thanked in public for doing their job?

Anony-tired said...

British Anonymous, I'm not a big fan of this acknowledgements culture either, but perhaps it is a British thing. I used to work for a publisher that had a lot of both US and UK authors. The former tended to long acknowledgements, the latter to just short dedications (though naturally there were exceptions).

I don't think I'd want an agent who'd be hostile just because they weren't acknowledged in every book/

Bonnie Shimko said...

I don't think the acknowledgments page is showing off. I think it's just the opposite. An "I couldn't have done this alone" kind of thing.

As far as thanking your agent. I can't imagine not thanking her. Selling the book is just a tiny fraction of what she does before and after publication.

Anonymous said...

If you don't like the pages where the author thanks his or her many support people, then don't read them. Shocking, I know. As I jump into my second MS, I realize how many people it does take to pull off a finished novel (much less a published finished novel).

Anonymous said...

Anon #2, I hear what you're saying about acknowledgements, but I must admit I don't entirely agree.

Acknowledgements aren't about backing into the limelight, they're about acknowledging that a book isn't made in a vacuum.

You trusted your agent to obtain the best deal for your book. And I'll go out on a limb to say you got an agent because you thought you couldn't do better on your own steam. Your editor likely helped shape the book into something you feel is a better piece of work, and s/he probably championed it to the editorial board of the company so that they'd invest tens of thousands of dollars in printing and publishing it. (Please remember that books are still sold on consignment, so there's no guarantee that a publisher is laughing all the way to the bank). Frankly, I think it's a nice touch to also thank your publicist, too.

Plus, this information is helpful to those not yet published writers in deciding to whom they should submit their mses.

Acknowledgements show gratitude and graciousness. Yes, the Oscar broadcast would be shorter if winners didn't thank anyone, but it's still expected. People like to know that you appreciate the effort they put into your work.

Yes, it's their job, but many of the people you should be acknowledging thought you and your work were special enough to invest in.

Be polite. Say thanks. It's not showing off. It's just good manners.

Kate Thornton said...

It's always polite to say Thank You - saying it in a book that has taken the hard work and patience of others is a fine and polite thing to do. As a reader, you can skip that (or any) part of the book.

The idea that saying Thank You is showing off just sounds tiresome, irritating and self-important. If you don't like the writing, fine. If you don't like the Thank Yous, get a freakin' life.

Anonymous said...

Actually, this Acknowledgements thing bugs me. I had such a section in my first book but, c'mon, is it really necessary? The agent's just doing his job and if he's done it well then he should have made both himself and his client very happy. Do we need to list an obligatory thank you at the beginning of a novel, in the book itself, like it's a film credit or something?

I'm against it because it reeks of "obligatory advertisement for the agent" -- something that the author is guilted into doing. Because we all know that we pretty much have to do it, but we're supposed to act like we're doing it just cuz. When did this tactless trend start, anyway? You look at any of the "great" books -- any novel taught in schools or that's lasted past its generation -- and you'll never ever ever see the agents thanked. But in every mediocre dum-dum novel of the past 20 years, and in the ok ones and the halfway decent ones too, they've always got to have this "Acknowledgements" section and that section isn't about saying hello to mom & dad or the publisher's editor or best friend Betty or anyone else, we all know it's there to give free advertising to the person who agented the book. Ego, ego, ego. Tacky, tacky, tacky. I say give it up already, do the job and be happy with the financial rewards of it. Do we authors need to give out a free ad before the first page now, too? Will you resent me if I choose to omit this next time around because I think it's tacky?

Anonymous said...

Anon,

If you win the National Book Award, then I expect out of class and courtesy and good manners (all things in low supply today btw) you thank your agent at the acceptance speech.

BUT TO FORCE AN OBLIGATORY "THANKS" TO YOUR AGENT AND EVERYBODY ELSE WHO MADE A LIVING (AND DID GET PAID FOR IT) WORKING ON YOUR BOOK RIGHT IN THE FRONTISPIECE OF THE BOOK IS TACKY!

And yes, I blame the agents for pushing this "acknowledgements" culture on us. They know that it's all about advertising and they're the ones guilting us into doing it. And at the same time they remind us that they're not our friends but they're like our dentist or something. When was the last time you acknowledged your dentist for that crown of yours? I mean, come on. It's one more reason that I'm not as fond about agents-in-general than I could be.

Anon

Ryan Field said...

Whenever I read a novel I typically look for a "thanks page" because I'm curious and like to read between the lines. I never thought of it as advertising. I go to writersmarket.com for that.

Pete Tzinski said...

The wisest thing for a writer to do is to get married. That way, they have a friend, and they also have someone around so that when they are inclined to say "Oh joy, I have an agent, and she likes me! She loves me! We should invite her over for dinner." You have someone around to say "Shut up. Go do your writing."

Jim Oglethorpe said...

I do think there are some people that crave friendship and will push to get it. I have a neighbor who isn't satisfied just being friendly neighbors and having our kids play together occassionally. She wants to be great friends with me and be "couple" friends w/our spouses. Neverending invitations. Push, push, push. Hint, hint, hint. I finally laid it out and it still doesn't stop. I think this is a personality type that really only thinks about what they want and uses guilt and persistance to get it. I'm not articulating this well. Not sure if any type of reason can ever answer the question WHY.

michaelgav said...

I've been working on a novel for a couple of years now.

I had some early readers who helped steer me right, even though they all had day jobs. It mattered a lot that they liked my story and cared about my characters.

I tapped the CEO of a forensic lab in Kentucky to pick his brain about blood studies. It wasn't his job to email back and forth with me, but he did it anyway.

I interviewed a woman who runs a company that administers polygraph examinations. She spent about forty minutes during her lunch break one day answering and explaining. It may not be enough to get her into heaven, but it sure helped me.

I reached out to the author of a wonderful book about teenagers who overcame what seemed like insurmountably abominable upbringings. I wanted to make sure I had a particular character's attitude right. She offered to read a chapter, and subsequently provided encouragement and also picked up on one aspect of the character's thinking that I had just 180-degrees wrong. I didn't pay her for that gracious expenditure of time.

An agent or editor who puts his or her reputation out there on behalf of my book is going to get my thanks for that, in print, in the book, along with these other people.

I've been trying to understand how doing this can be construed as showing off, but I just don't see it.

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that only a famous established author has the right to a long acknowledgements section. If you're just a regular person, no one cares about your inner circle.

That struck me as pretty crass, and also wrong. I think it's the other way around. As a new author, I'd think you'd be particularly aware/appreciative of the people who helped shape you, who believed in you and your work. ( I know I am.)

And that includes your agent--especially one who takes on an unpublished author. Yes, it is a business relationship, but let's not forget that an agent takes you "on spec." That's a real act of faith, even though the goal is a pragmatic one: to make money.

I know that I feel a real sense of gratitude to my agent, for having taken me on, even though the outcome is uncertain.

--another "anonymous"

Anonymous said...

I'm from Canada, and a lot of the time the Acknowledgements are at the end of the book, not the frontispiece. Kind of like film credits.

I'd also encourage authors to have a look at what kind of salaries editors and other publisher employees are making. 'Cause most of us barely eke out a living for ourselves. One of my friends (who works in finance) told me that based on my salary --before taxes--I'm living at the poverty line.

Saying thank you costs nothing. your publisher is paying for the extra paper and ink, anyway.

Don't be a self-important dillhole.

Anonymous said...

The agent may be doing his or her job, but it's still polite to say thank you. Not saying thank you when someone provides you a service, whether it's their job or not, is generally considered rude.

And I think it's wrong to assume that everyone who helped out with the book got paid for it. There were a few people who read my last MS and offered suggestions who didn't get paid for it and did it because they've been mentors to me and want to see the book do well. While I've certainly thanked them in person, I think they should be given credit publicly as well. Your interpretation of an acknowledgement as showing off probably says more about your intentions than it does the intentions of the author, because certainly the simplest explanation for an acknowledgement is that the author wanted to express gratitude. And I'd hardly call a formal acknowledgement that you couldn't have gotten the book in shape without help a self-aggrandizing gesture.

So if I have to pick between the two, I'd rather risk people mistakenly thinking that I'm showing off than mistakenly thinking that I'm an ungrateful jerk who's too full of myself to acknowledge that I didn't do it alone.

Just Me said...

I think some of the more disdainful anonymous comments above about 'why should I thank someone who's just doing their job and getting paid?' provides a vivid example of why so many authors are considered anathama to agents and publishers. Listen up: If you haven't got the minimum personal relationship skills to even pretend to be gracious and considerate of your team members and supporters, than you are fully deserving of the contempt in which you will be personally regarded by them. Don't bitch that they "don't treat me nice"; you are the one behaving like a jerk. If you don't understand why you need to thank people - you really don't understand. Period.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Here's my own take on the eternal lament, "But I consider us friends!"

Many years ago, I suffered an unexplained nerve thing that left my hand numb. I set up an appointment with my chiropractor, followed by a visit to my G.P.

My family doctor arranged for me to get physical therapy and advised me not to combine P.T. with chiropractic care. Finish up with the therapist, he advised, and then if I still need assistance, follow-up with my chiropractor. So, at about 3:30 pm, I promptly called the chiropractor's office and canceled my appointment for the following afternoon.

The next morning, I received an angry call from her. She huffily informed me that her office required a 24 hour notice (my appt. had been set for 3:00, was 23 1/2 hours not warning enough?), but because she considered me her FRIEND, she wouldn't charge me (the $25.00 'flake-out' fee) THIS TIME. But I was damn well expected to show up.

Flustered (I'm still rather unnerved by pushy people) and somewhat cowed, I did arrive promptly for my appointment. She went on and on about how hurt she was that I had placed my doctor's opinion above her own. Especially because… And once again, she launched into how she considered us "to be friends".

Now, other than these appointments, for which I paid considerable bucks, we never lay eyes on each other. I felt insulted that she would use such a ploy. We weren't "friends". She performed a service for which she charged mightily. She didn't invite me out to dinner, or suggest we meet for drinks. There were no phone-calls filled with exchanged confidences, giggles and bad puns (now you know MY true meaning of friendship).

One can be friendly (something I heartily recommend) but that doesn't mean those boundaries of true friendship should all be blurred, or cheapened. Too often, "but I consider us friends" is a license to impose obligations that (let's face it) real "friends" wouldn't, or shouldn't resort to.

Sometimes the rare occurrence happens. Through some amazing quirk of compatibility, a business acquaintance truly does become a friend. There would have to be an astonishing connection to leap beyond the necessity of maintaining a distance that is actually mandatory in business. Why? Because Miss Snark might fire your ass! Or you might ignite hers in a blaze of gin fumes!

*heh-heh*

PS… I'm giddy with laughter after watching George Clooney on the Daily Show.

skybluepinkrose said...

If an author thanks an agent by name, it's our tipoff that this type of book is repped by said agent. This can teach us something, yes?

Nobody who ever got a book published thinks they got there alone, unless they're hopelessly self-centered. For openers, your agent probably got you into a publisher that doesn't take unagented mss. And don't forget anybody who helped you do research. For heaven's sake, thank them. It's just plain right.

Elektra said...

Last anonymous, I actually do refer everyone I can to my dentist. Because you know what? He doesn't have to be exceptionally nice and give me extra numbing stuff and be really patient when I cry during the Novocaine shots (which I never fail to do). If people are good at what they do, they should get credit for it, whether they're being paid or not. It's as much a service to the person you're referring them to as it is to the professionals themselves.

Anonymous said...

IT's TACKY to say Thank You !?!?!

I acknowledge my editor and agent because I truly appreciate their help in shaping the work AND the contract. I acknowledge the people who helped me research because I appreciate their generosity. I acknowledge my friends becuase I appreicate their support. I try to keep it all to a few sentences, at most, but I can say from experience that friends who help you are usually very pleased to see their names in print.

And then the production process somehow loses both the acknowledgements and the dedication, and now I wonder if my agent in annoyed because I failed to put her name in!

Southern Writer said...

But ... but ... the writer in the TV show Men in Trees is best friends with her agent! They do everything together! They ate hamburgers together in a greasy spoon diner on Thanksgiving. And they go to all those glamorous book parties and the writer is being wooed by all those big NY editors because her little short story appeared in the New Yorker! That's not fair! If she gets it, I want it! Waaaah!

Kim said...

When, and if, my first book is sold
(I'm in the "oh-my-god-I-just-finished-a-novel" mode),
my not-yet-acquired agent will get a "thank you" in 30 point New Times Roman
in the FRONT of the book.

I'm serious! : D

katiesandwich said...

Chiron O'Keefe: I have this pychologist "friend..." Maybe she and your chiropractor should be introduced?

Anonymous said...

Acknowledgements pages don't bother me in the least, but it bothers me that writers who leave them out should automatically be assumed to be ungracious and ungrateful.

If I ever get published, I'd rather not write Acknowledgements at all. I know if I got started, there'd never be an end to it. They would run to three pages and still not be enough. My relatives would think, 'Oh, so she mentions her agent but not me?' My friends would think, 'Oh, so she mentions her second cousin but not me?' My online friends would think, 'Oh, so she mentions her "real" friends, but we don't count, do we?' The cover designer would think, 'Oh, so she mentions her bloody online critique group but not me??'

Also, I write historical fiction, so should I thank all the dozens of historians whose work has helped me with my research? Why not just add a bibliography and endnotes, and of course a disclaimer that historical fiction isn't actually true, and an apology for taking liberties with Anne Boleyn's character?

So let me ask you: what's wrong with saying 'thank you' in other ways? I'm sure I'd be swooning from gratitude to my agent and editor, and let them know it, too. But is the Acknowledgements page the only thing that matters at all?

Anonymous said...

" I blame the agents for pushing this "acknowledgements" culture on us. They know that it's all about advertising and they're the ones guilting us into doing it. And at the same time they remind us that they're not our friends but they're like our dentist or something. When was the last time you acknowledged your dentist for that crown of yours? I mean, come on!"

Abso-bloody-lutely! I have had a fantastic agent for over 12 years who would not remotely assume he needed an acknowledgement every single time, with every single book, for doing his job well! I don't like this attitude of agents demanding public thanks at all - it's very vulgar. Besides, if you insist on a thank-you, it's always meaningless.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Katie--Maybe we should! *laughs* Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke: "Okay, a psychologist and a chiropractor meet in a bar..."

*heh-heh*

In regards to the whole acknowlegement dilemma...

I do know that I intend to thank my agent, my editor, my publisher, and all my critique partners, but will not be mentioning my chiropractor, dentist, hair stylist (though she IS a peach) or family doctor.

And I promise to never, ever place a frantic call to my agent begging her to help me move, but will remember her favorite brand of gin when the holidays hiccup along.

Ho-ho-ho!

WitLiz Today said...

Are you freakin' kidding me with some of these comments?

Here let me spell it out for some of you--and it's free.

Thank You Dr. Squeezits, for the care you took putting in my amazing new neon crown! WOW, it glows in the dark! So cool!

Thank You Dr. Hatchetjob, for not getting my right leg mixed up with my left, and for making sure the anesthesiologist didn't kill me. Thank you for reassuring me before surgery, after surgery and taking the time to comfort me when I felt like I was going to die!

Thank You Dr. FrontalWart, for taking my emergency calls when I ran screaming in horror from reading one of Miss Snark's blogs!

Thank You Miss Snark, for interceding on my behalf when a crazed Editor on a rampage, tried to eat my manuscript and you stuffed his mouth with a stiletto instead.

Thank You, Thank You, Thank You, a timeless, gracious and wonderful way to build someone up, and maintain a high level of humility within our own self at the same time.

As for the intimacy issues between Agent and Client--well that's a private thing between you and your agent. Everybody's different. Everybody's needs are different. No surprise there.

You will never go wrong though, if mutual respect and sacrifice lay the foundation of that relationship. And any other relationship really; bff, doctor-patient, dentist-patient etc...

Sacrifice means you understand and therefore work very hard to maintain the boundaries set up by your agent, because she has asked you to do that. And vice-versa.

Anonymous said...

Insisting on a thank-you does make the thank-you meaningless, and insisting is ungracious.

However...(an 'ahem' of impending self-revelation)I'm a professional who works in public service. I help about fifteen people per hour for four or five hours a day. Yes, I get paid to give information and advice. But I want those people to say thank you. When they don't, I feel miffed, disrespected, and other kinds of bad, even though I get paid and I'm just doing my job.

After I see the doctor, I thank him. I thank my dentist and hygienist and grocery store clerks, and I leave a little something out for the garbage men every Christmas (unless I drink it before it ever reaches them).

If, Accident willing, I get an agent, I intend to thank her, too. And since ink on paper is our shared medium, maybe I'll thank her in print.

Disgruntled but not a postal worker,
pulp

Anonymous said...

Culture of acknowledgement ... I'd never heard that before. Do we have one? Odd, because out on the street, the American culture often seems remarkably *short* on thank yous. I've a British friend who takes her holidays over here and she notices it as contrasting to English behaviors.

So I should think that a thank you, wherever it's found, is a good and positive thing. If an author wants to include a page of acknowledgments, I don't see it as ego or arrogance, and certainly not touting "Names". I see it as an author looking back along the arduous road s/he just travelled, and thanking those who were most instrumental in the book's completion.

If I ever get published, you can bet your sweet bippy I'll name some names - and no, they won't be Names, but they will be people without whom my book would not exist. Including my agent. For pity's sake, one does not have to immitate an Academy Awards Thank You Speech simply to acknowldge an invaluable few! Saying thank you is only good taste. If someone is offended by that - they should skip it, along with the page bearing all the copyright and published-by stuff.

Just my tuppence. :-)

~ G Atwater

ugfkmm?

Anonymous said...

"If someone is offended by that - they should skip it, along with the page bearing all the copyright and published-by stuff."

Oh, no-one's offended by it, surely! What I'm offended by is the statement that an agent will be 'hostile as hell' if they are not thanked in public - no matter, one assumes, how much they are thanked in private. Though private thanks weren't mentioned, so obviously, in this context, appearances are all. Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar.

Anonymous said...

I don't want a friend; I already have friends. I want an agent. And just as I don't sent poison-pen letters to the agents who reject me, I'm not going to gush in print about the one who finally takes me on.