Thursday, May 5, 2011

IDIOT AGENT #1 (part 2)

Between part one and here, a lot of people have asked me to name names. I'm not gonna. Why? Because a lot of what I have to say about the shitheads who wasted a decade of my life, I can't actually prove. A lot of what I have to retell happened over phone calls, were in e-mails that disappeared two computers ago. So despite the facts of the case, there's a lot that those shitheads could say isn't true, and I have no way to prove otherwise, possibly opening myself up to some litigation. So you're just gonna have to trust me on these things.

So, where were we?

Oh yeah. I got an agent! This was the part that everyone told me was supposed to be that hardest, and I'd just done it like it wasn't no thang.

SIDENOTE: This is the part where I continue my thoughts on all agents not being equal. I discussed my thoughts on New York vs. Non-New York in Idiot Agent #1 (part 1). Beyond that, this is where your homework comes in. Looking at agents? Look at their client list. Some agencies don't share their client lists at all.

Why? Privacy for those clients, they claim. This is a lie. What fucking writer doesn't want anyone and everyone to know who represents them? The real reason is that the agencies want their privacy. They don't need new prospective clients rooting around and noticing that they haven't had a sale for two years, or worse. Another thing, if you do see a client list, and there's not a single name you recognize? Don't bother. If anything, run.

EXCEPTION! the biggest agencies don't necessarily need to show off their client list. If you're William-Morris, it's pretty much expected that you have top Snooki. New writers shouldn't bother apply...unless you're Snooki, or some other media darling who for some sweet fuck-all reason gets a book deal.

So where did I fuck up? I ignored the client list. These people had nobody. They apparently hadn't had a sale in a good long time. The "headline" sale on the website was published over 16 months earlier. I twisted this, deluded myself into thinking that they must be desperate for a sale, that they would be working that much harder to sell MY book.

I'll wait for you to stop laughing at me. Done? Let's move on.

So I waited. Idiot Agent #1 told me that the book was at St. Martins. Awesome, right? Again, wait for it...

Two months passed without me saying a word. I like to think that I'm pretty patient on these matters. They take time. But after two months, I asked for an update.

No response.

I waited a couple more weeks. I wrote my agent for an update again.

No response.

Three-month mark, I called and left a message. No response.

At the four month mark, I called him the fuck out. Asked him what the hell he was doing that he couldn't reply to a phone call, much less an e-mail.

That got me a phone call response. Only after went I went after the guy angrily did I get a reply. He fed me stories about editorial firings and hirings at St. Martin's that had slowed down their reading processes for months. As it was, he said, it could take a couple of months for an unsolicited manuscript to get read in the first place.

He paused. He knew he'd just fucked up. Suddenly, he had to end the call.


This wasn't supposed to be an unsolicited manuscript. This was supposedly coming through a goddamn agent. Not only that, he was citing editorial shifts that occurred months before he'd even taken me on as a client, which, simply put, told me that he wasn't staying on top of the publishing business (which admittedly does undergo immense periods of flux). According to his timeline and math, St. Martins hadn't acquired a book, or even read one in months. Yeah...didn't make an ounce of fucking sense to me either.

My next e-mail laid all of this shit on the table, asked him to explain these issues. He simply replied with the most bullshit of schoolyard responses, while explaining nothing. "Well, if you have problems with the way I conduct my business...etc."

I told him I did. And that he was fired.

See, this dickhead wasn't even a real agent. The problem with agency-hunting is that essentially, anyone can claim to be an agent. I can put together a website this afternoon claiming to be an agent. Then I can say that my client list is private. Then I just wait for the hungry writers to fall into my lap. So what if I don't have any industry contacts? There are more than a few routes for someone to take with an unsolicited manuscript. It just takes a little longer. Then when lightning strikes, I take my cut. All for doing nothing more than any writer could have, armed with slightly more knowledge than I had at that point.

But now I had the knowledge, and all I'd lost was seven months off my life.

Things would be a little different the next time, right?



(Coming Soon: Idiot Agent #2 Sigh....)

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