I was just reading Annette’s thread about her good fortune in having a production company ask to read her script. Great news, that is. But then I was saddened, and felt a bit of anger — which has been growing ever since — when I read that Annette will have to wait for six months or so before she feels it is acceptable for her to send the script out to anyone else. Why? Because this production company doesn’t send out rejection letters.
I guess that, being a successful Hollywood production company, things like simple, common business practices don’t apply. I guess it’s too much trouble to scribble a few words onto a slip of paper and stick it inside of an SASE provided by the author. What is wrong with these people? Never mind. I know the answer to that. They are “Hollywood types.” The only people they show respect toward are the ones higher up in the food chain.
Sadly, I’ve recently discovered, it isn’t just Hollywood slime. Apparently most literary agents feel it is perfectly acceptable to be given 3 months to look over a submission before having to respond to the author. Well, hey, you might be thinking, it takes the agent quite a while to get through a manuscript. Oh really? I invite your to read Noah Lukeman’s The First Five Pages. Lukeman is an agent in the biz. He claims that he and most all other agents can tell if a work will sell in the first five pages of perusal. He also freely admits that, as he’s reading these five pages, he’s looking for anything and everything that will cause him to reject the MS. Why? So he doesn’t have to read the bloody thing! Hey, nice work if you can get it. Sounds awfully stressful, doesn’t it. Having to wait three months before getting around to reading five pages before scribbling out that rejection slip.
Hey, look. I build classical guitars. MY waiting list for anyone who wants to order one is over a year long. But if I get queries from future clients, I answer any and all of their questions promptly. So even though I’ve got work booked out to over a year in the future, I still manage to find time in the day to respond to future requests for business!
So, where do agents and movie production companies get off, I ask, assuming they can treat writers so shabbily? Why is all the respect one-way? Why? I’ll tell you why. Because we let them get away with this shabby conduct, that’s why. In any other business you’d care to name, this sort of behavior would get an outfit run off, to put it in “awl bidness” terms. Businesses that do not maintain a modicum of reciprical decency should not expect any.
I tell you what, when I finally start having to play the submission game with the novel I’m working on now, I will not put up with this nonsense. I will light fires under their posteriors if they think they can mess with me. Cuz, you know what? Ultimately, I don’t need them. In this day and age, I can go it alone. I can establish my own small press and legitimately publish my own works. I don’t need them. They need me. The sooner all of us realize this, the better we’ll all be.
Ask yourself this: where would publishers and/or production companies be without good writers? Eh? Will they be outsourcing them from India along with everyone else these days? Somehow, I don’t think so. The only things that keep their fires lit are needy writers. And I really don’t like being one of them.