Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Single Editor/Agent's POV Is Not the Gospel Truth

We have said this time and time again here on this blog, but the publishing industry is very subjective. What works for one person is not necessarily going to work for someone else. I bring this up because I have seen lately, a huge influx of comments out there on blogs and the loops that worry me. It seems that there are a huge number of writers out there that seem to believe that one agent or one editor's comment is to be taken as the gospel truth and anyone that disagrees with it is way off course. Ummm, no.

Now, where does this come from? In many ways, some of the problems are coming from agents and editors that post on their personal blogs statements that either state it is their way or it is wrong, or they might simply imply it. The same thing happens when we hear these professionals sit on panels and proclaim the rightness or the wrongness of something.

A second potential reason (and certainly something that works with the prior idea) is that writers are taking everything these people say as that gospel truth. It is the belief that if these people say it, then it must be true.

What we fail to realize is that there are always a lot of variables that may not be seen up front when we post these ideas here on our blogs. Different authors, different genres and different circumstances will yield completely different responses. Simply using a single comment and applying it to all cases isn't going to work.

When I post something here on this blog, in no way do I want to make anyone believe this is the only approach to things. I would certainly hope that other professionals out there take the same approach as well. And as for you writers - THINK! Listen to what we are talking about and apply the information to your genre that fits.



  1. Hearing this from a real-life-honest-to-goodness- agent is wonderful. It can definitely be confusing when we research and find conflicting opinions. Its nice to be reminded: research the agent. You can't please everyone, but you can target your queries and send each agent what they want or are looking for. Learning the ins and outs of this ever changing industry can be daunting to say the least. Thank you

  2. I really do think the fault lies on both sides as you pointed out.

    Some mega-agent sells the idea of "tension in every word" or something like that and makes a pretty good penny doing it.

    Then so many writers absolutely contort themselves trying to do the impossible, cheered on by editors who have finally found a slogan they can latch onto.

    The agents and editors have their reasons, and the poor victimized writers have their reasons, too.

    Just like pushers and junkies.

    But thankfully there are plenty of story-tellers who rely on their own instincts of good and bad writing and publishers who do the same.

    And when those two forces get together it's a beautiful thing for readers!

  3. I think something you missed is the bloggers' needs to affirm the agent vs. disagree. "If s/he sees my name and I've disagreed, then I'll not get agented." And just as likely is "If she see I've agreed with him/her a million times, surely it will influence the decision to rep me because it proves I'm an agreeable client."

    I also believe there are agents who use blogs to feed their own need for affirmation. I've seen agents answer blog posts rather huffily when disagreed with. These are the agents I know to avoid querying at all costs.

    But there are two that I value for their honesty in handling posts: this one and Jessica Faust's. I'm not worried about disagreeing with something you say and getting flamed for it. This post is a perfect example. Here you "scream" at authors to "THINK." Lovely sentiment, and many of us do. Don't discount us as idiots or lump us in with the lemmings from my first paragraph. It just ticks us off. I generally agree with your posts and find them informative, but today's I found a bit insulting. Does it mean I'll stop reading your blog? Nope. You have too much information, good information, to share with those of us who follow blogs with the right intentions. Besides, I like your directness, even when it makes me respond excessively.

  4. Most people want affirmations that what they do is good. Some of them look to outside sources then run with those when a certain thing is said.

    Part of it is: If I do this, then that agent/editor will look at my stuff and like it. When it should be: Let's see if I can learn from this experience and apply it to my writing.

    Unfortunately, a lot of this is NOT gone over in writing groups any more. Writing is a learned trait, flexibility combined with creativity is not.