When I first opened up Greyhaus in 2003, editors and agents were very accessible. Authors could send unsolicited projects to nearly all of the editors. Agents were very open to look at nearly every author and their projects all of the time. At conferences, editors and agents would roam freely talking to all of writers. But now...
- Many publishers are accepting only agented submissions.
- Agents are closing doors to unsolicited submissions.
- Editors and agents are attending less conferences
- At conferences, editors and agents are staying in their rooms or even staying at other hotels.
In one personal example, I was invited to do a workshop for a writing chapter. Throughout the presentation 2 individuals did nothing but tell me I was wrong. What was interesting is that the information I was providing was pretty much standard information from sites such as Publisher's Marketplace and Publisher's Weekly. How did I feel during the presentation? You can pretty much guess. Will I go back? Probably not.
I know that I heard from a lot of editors, agents and writers who felt this same way after the latest RWA convention in Anaheim. Again, there were a few of those "bad apples" running around creating a negative vibe. And this was right near "The Happiest Place On Earth!" And guess what? This is the reason why there are many who will not be going to the 2013 conference.
Let's talk about rejection letters now, or even feedback from a submission. Why have so many agents started using form letters or even the "no reply means no approach"? The answer again returns to a few of those "bad apples." In an effort to be constructive or nice, we used to give answers as to why the story didn't work for us. But when that letter/email shows up, we were bombarded with comments that included:
- arguing with the agent
- sending a new version of the synopsis because we apparently didn't get it
- harrassing phone calls
- and yes, the bombardment of hate mail.
And yes, these reasons extend to pitch sessions. Why is it that editors and agents now ask for everything at pitch sessions instead of saying no? They don't want to be yelled at in public. They don't want arguing. They don't want tears. So, we avoid it and reject you from a distance.
Why have agents stopped blogging? Those few bad apples have ruined it as well. In an effort to provide some nuggets of education, or to continue a "professional" discussion, many of us really kept up extensive blogs. Daily we would try to engage in a quality dialogue with authors and other profesionals. But... when those few start:
- using the blogs as a platform to insert their links to unrelated websites.
- moving from one blog to the next as "Anonymous" to harrass and slam any opinion
- to pick on minute details instead of dealing with the big picture
Editors and agents know there are A LOT of you out there really doing great things. We know there are A LOT of you really trying hard to get your work out there and to learn. And yes, we know there are A LOT of you equally as frustrated with those bad apples that can do nothing but ruin the experience for everyone.
I know I am one who hopes those few bad apples will simply go away. I liked things the way they were. In all honesty, I can only hope the rest of the "FANTASTIC APPLES" can simply get together and throw those bad apples out of the barrel and we can get on with our lives. Until then, please. Keep working hard, keep pushing and know this... In the end, those bad apples will not get published. Their careers will not take off and through a sort of "Social Darwinism" the good ones will rise to the top!