As a writer, I understand author angst and frustration. What I have never prescribed to is sour grapes and playing the blame game for any lack of success that I may have bumped up against. If I didn’t prevail in some endeavor, I didn’t sit back and point my finger at someone else. Rather, I looked at what I could have done differently to change the outcome.
So when Mary Walters writes about the evils of agents and thinks them harbingers of evil talent-killers who prevent the real art from skidding across our desks, I can only wonder at the sourness of her grapes. Literary agents are in the business to sell books. That’s how they pay the rent. And yes, they accept works they believe they can sell. In turn, we editors buy works from agents that we believe we can sell to the genre buyers and libraries. That’s how the free market works.
Mary is angry she’s being overlooked and has made agents her target. It would be far more productive to look in the mirror and see where she can change her course of direction. This is a tough business, and nowhere is it written that life is fair. No one owes Mary or any other author a chance. If the writing and story is marketable, then editors will take a look. Do authors get overlooked? Hell yes they do. But the pros don’t curl up into the fetal position and whine about their lot in life and blame agents. The persevere.
Cindrella stories happen all the time. I’ve talked a number of times about the wonderful Stacy Dittrich and our blog exchange. She was frustrated and I gave her plenty of space to articulate her angst. Several months later, a wonderful agent, Claire Gerus, saw her work on Publisher’s Marketplace, signed her, and got her a multi-book deal. Stacy is on her way. And she was a debut author. I and many of my publishing brethren have published thousands of debut authors, so it’s folly to suggest it doesn’t happen. And it’s even more folly to suggest that agents didn’t make those sales happen because they most certainly did.
Agents make editors’ lives worth living, and I talked about it at great length here as to why I love them.
Publishing may produce lots of tears and frustration, but it is a No Whine Zone.