Re: RE: Shabby Treatment

Home Forums Writer’s Digest Forum Take it Outside! Shabby Treatment Re: RE: Shabby Treatment


Mikala Engel

You say you don’t need publishers.  Well, you need them a heck of a lot more than any of them need you.  Agents and editors do need writers, but they don’t need any single writer.  Nor will they want you, with your attitude and lack of knowledge about anything related to agents and publishers.

Now, I will say that anyplace that doesn’t send rejections should have a time period listed somewhere in the guidelines.  All I’ve seen do. Most often, it’s two months.  But it can be considerably longer.

But who the heck cares whether or not you get a rejection slip?  Talk about getting in a fume over nothing.  Even many magaines no longer send rejections before they’re pointless, they consume time, energy, and money, all for no good purpose.  When the time period passes, it’s a no.

Honestly, you have no concept of the publishing industry, or why writers use agents.  Agents do protect writers, but publishers are not predatory, and this is not why writers use agents.  Writers use agents because the act of selling a book is often a long, drawn out process, and it requires legal expertise few writers have.  It also requires tons of time to handle subsidiary rights, to find new deals for writers, etc.  There’s this notion out there that all an agent does is read manuscritps half the time, and use the rest of their time to protect writers from the big, bad publishers.  Both notions come from pure ignorance.  What agents really do is make writers lots and lots of money the writer simply cannot make on his own, find writers lots and lots of work the writer cannot on his own, and agents save writers thousands of hours by doing all the drudgery work a writer doesn’t have the time or the expertise to do for himself.  And shouldn’t have to do for himself, even if he could find the time.

It’s a matter of time.  A writer should spend his time writing, not doing dozens to hundreds of things agents can do better and faster, and to far more profit.  A good agent is worth her weight in gold, and the reason for this has nothing at all to do with protecting the writer from legitimate publishers.

Protecting him from scam artists, yes.  Protecting him from fly by night, would-be publishers who haven’t a clue, yes.  But not from legitimate publishers.  They say a man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.  This goes double for the man who is his own agent.

An agent is also there for the protection of editors who would otherwise have to spend precious time dealing with prima donna “writers” who think they have a clue, who moan and whine and gripe about things they have zero knowledge of, or things that are of no consequence to anyone with a clue.

You think ninety days is long?  Or six months?  Nonsense.  I don’t know what world you’re from where things move faster than this, but it isn’t earth.  Not in any business.  Not even when doing it yourself.

You aren’t supposed to be waiting, and you aren’t supposed to be spending your time fiddling with children’s toys like desktop publishing 101.  You’re supposed to be writing.  Every day.  If you’re doing this, six months is nothing.

And despite the nonsense out there, the print media is not being stung by the electronic media.  In case you haven’t noticed,when  anything being published electronically makes money, such as tectbooks, law books, medical books, etc., the print and electronic media are usually one and the same.  Same owners, same business practices, etc.

And, yes, anyone who knows anything at all about quality can read the first five pages and tell whether the book is pubishable.  Yes, we do look for reasons to reject.  We almost never have to look long orhard.  The writer almost always gives us a reason in the first fivepages.  Usually a dozen reasons.  And, no, most often we don’t want to read the bloody things because almost all of them stink to high heaven.  Most are not just bad, they’d read better if an illiterate third grader wrote them.  One with English as a second langauge.

And this is the same way almost everything self-published reads.

The simple truth is that most people can’t write, which is what they should be worried about, rather than the fact that someone didn’t send them a slip of paper with NO! printed on it.  Show me a hundred random writers, and I’ll show ninety-nine people who can’t write nearly well enough to get through a grocery list without help, and a hundreth who probably isn’t much better.  And this is what you want agents and editors to gladly sit down and read?

When a writer can write, he usually has no trouble making an agent or an editor sit up and take notice, and his work will not be rejected during those first five pages.  But when he can’t write, that’s his problem, not an agent’s problem, and not an editor’s problem.

And, yes, being an agent is highly stressful work, it’s often a seventy hour per week job, and if you think it’s nice work if you can get it, try it for yourself.  You don’t need a license or a permit.  Just hang out your shingle, and let me know two years from now how stressful you think it is.  It’s just ignorant to think an agent spends very much time at all sitting and reading, and even sillier to get an opinion of what agents do by reading a book such as The First Five Pages.

But if you want to do it yourself, go ahead.  Start your own small press.  Set up a distribution system.  Go out there and compete with people who actually know what they’re doing.  And who will have books a hundred times better than anything you’re likely to release.  Have fun.  Have lots of fun.  Fun is all you’ll probably have.

And I got news for you.  Agents and editors won’t put up with your nonsense, either.  Fortunately, they don’t have to.  As you say, you can do it all yourself, so go ahead.  That big whoosing sound you’ll hear when you do will be all the agents and editors out there letting out a big sigh of relief.