Angry Agent’s & Publisher’s Sites – Are they endangering their own industry?

I get it, it must be frustrating to be a literary agent and receive hundreds of unsolicited, poor-quality material, but I’m here wondering if these angry Agents and Publishers aren’t creating their own demise. It is not all of them but still more than I expected.

In my research on how to submit my recently finished book to an agent, I’ve learned that the proper process is to send a Query Letter, and see if the agent wants to receive a submission; if and only then, you send a cover letter, with summary and submission and many other details; then you wait, possibly for months. If no agent wants to represent you, you may try to send directly to publishers, the reason being that it seems that if all the publishers have already rejected you, no agent will agree to represent you.

While reading the agents and publishers website I kept being assaulted by exasperated people right and left.

They sounded like angry teachers:

  • Do not send unsolicited material.
  • We repeat: Do not send mail that needs to be signed for.
  • WE DON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS!
  • We do not look at work which is under submission to any other agent or publisher.
  • Do not send the whole work.
  • Do not send cassette tapes, CDs, or video tapes.
  • Binding: please don’t. We prefer that the material should be in the form of loose sheets, unbound, held together by string or cotton tape.

‘String? Cotton Tape? Printed sheets? What?’ If we writers test the patience of the agents, I’d say they do it right back at us. String?

The general tone of many Agents and Publishers websites is that we, the writers, are basically the scum of the Earth and we will be immensely lucky if they deem us worthy of their time.

There are lots of rules and regulations screaming at the reader with a thousand rules. There is a tone of lack of patience, of tired people that will take months to look at your query or manuscript but, in quite a few cases, want you to only submit to them.

I felt empathy for what they seem to go through but doubt that this is the best way to go forward in the long term.

We have to consider the changes in the publishing industry. No wonder so many authors are Self-Publishing, it is not encouraging to have to sift through angriness just to learn how to submit your work.

I have heard of many books that first made best sellers then were picked by the publishing world, it might not take long for authors to prefer going their own way. With many publishing houses and book stores closing down and going through serious restructure, I think professionalism and curtesy would be a better strategy.

I am finding harder and harder to pick which books are publishing mainstream and which are home-published, in e-books and at Amazon I simply search for what I like and don’t even look at the publisher. It is not impossible that Agents and Publishers could make themselves superfluous.

I do have the utmost respect and love for the job Publishers and Agents do. I miss the quality of the writing world before the self-publishing advent, which I’m guilty of. I miss going through a list of books knowing they are all professionally edited, proof-read, and picked as the cherries of the written word. But the reality is that that world is gone.

On the other hand, becoming a self-publisher is also a lot of work, and I’m not good at promoting and selling my books, getting freelancers to help me out every step of the way is time-consuming and at times, frustrating. That is why I am choosing to submit to agents and publishers and hope for the best. I did manage to pick some good agents and create a healthy list [see here how to create your own list].

My point is that maybe it is time for these angry Agents and Publishers to find a friendlier way to interact with their potential Authors. I find it strange that they are willing to treat badly the same people who will bring them their income. Instead I would suggest they should find better processes, include checklists for authors to follow before submission, for example. Interactive forms, where the applicant has to add the essential information, processes that would guide the aspiring writer to do it right, creating a healthy relationship from the start.

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Up the Lift

I’m going up the lift, the skis weighting heavily on my feet, feeling happy. I’m looking at the slope below me and writing what I see in my head

Group of students

Fallen skier

Fallen snowboarder, bum down

Mom with the pink hair and the little girl who gains mastery each time

Snow fight

Fallen snowboarder, bum up

Skier almost in a split

Father trying to untangle the baby’s skis both feet are looking backwards with skis firmly locked

A boy skiing with a pair of extra skis on his hands

Fallen snowboarder, making snow angels, completely given up

Little boy running down with no skis screaming ‘Jaaaaack! Hey Jaaaaack!’

‘Mommy, mommy, can you wait for me?’ I hear. I look downhill and mommy is sprawled on the floor, she couldn’t move if her life depended on it. Guess she will wait.

A little red bullet with orange helmet flies straight down bawling ‘INCOMING! INCOMING! INCOMING!”

Siri doesn’t get me

The more I try to get the local accent, the more people politely ask me “where is your accent from?”
My phone also doesn’t really get my accent.
I was trying to use it to type some things while walking one day.
So I said to it:
“I am from Brazil but have been living in Sydney for a while”
The phone typed:
“IM imbecile but have been leaving in Sydney for a while”
I replied to that:
“Imbecile is your mother!”
It dutifully typed:
“In this still is your mother”
(Orble Votes: 19)

Health Days

Rather than calling them Sick Days, we should have the benefit of Health Days. I have found that companies where people get sick all the time are the ones where people’s limits are frequently getting overstepped.

In this case, I think that is why we create disease, to create a physical manifestation to prove to our peers that we do need and deserve a break.
I have heard of a lot of people taking a “mental health day” but seldom you tell your employers what is going on.
We should be able to. Imagine a world where people are allowed to know their limits and before getting sick entering their boss’s office and saying: “I will take a health day tomorrow”.
How productive would that be?
The number of health days allowed could be the same as sick days but you know people would enjoy them much more and get less sick because it is much easier for the body to rest than to heal.
We would do things they love on those days rather than being unable to do anything and staying in bed and that would make them happier and therefore more productive at work.
It is a shift in perception and philosophy I hope to see or even create soon.

(Orble Votes: 30)

Prayer for the Published Word

I pray these words carry through
that they have enough weight to be picked up and tossed high
that they find anyone who will get something from reading them
May they find the ones who need them and the ones needed by them
I pray they reach people and inspire them, to positive change
I ask the Universe God, Buda, Allah and Zeus to aid them to fulfil their mission
And I declare that if only one person, by only one phrase I have now published, get to one worthwhile realisation, it will have been worth…
The timeless hours; taking notes through the night, disturbed sleep, anxiety, study, reading, re-writing, correcting, editing, the watching of others nipping and piercing through your creation, the pain, the joy, the despair, the fear and the fulfilment
It will have been worth it
My deep gratefulness for the privilege of putting these words to the World
By the power invested in me
Amen
(Orble Votes: 23)

I look with optimism at the decay of the publishing world

“The world is changed, I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, I smell it in the air. Much that once was, is lost…”
Galadriel’s words come to me when I look at the publishing world. I’m seeing many bookstores closing, I look at my own reading habits and how much they have changed since I acquired my first Kindle.
When I look at Amazon’s best sellers lists I see several self-published books competing with the largest publishers, and quite often these publishers are not doing a very good job in promoting their books and authors in the ebook platforms.
I have knowledge of ebook publishing and can see several errors in basic strategy that are more common to the publishers than the individual authors.
I look at all that is changing and see great opportunities. There are so many wonderful books I would like to re-read that are not online; there are many great books in other languages that were never translated because of the difficulty to reach a market. So many series forgotten in libraries because it was hard to get all the books in the series, in their proper order would have been even harder.
The ebooks bring the classics for free and a lot more for free, good and bad. These free books are wonderful opportunities to promote a new author. Writers able to create series of books are the ones who are more prone to success.
What I believe is happening is the old publishing houses to be stuck in their stubbornness to prove they are right, instead of looking ahead of what is coming next.
I understand, quality will suffer, glamour is lost, jobs are on the line. But change is change and there is no point struggling against it, you have to go with it, see where it takes you. I find there is a need to find new avenues to promote their books and their writers. I have read mostly unknown writers since I have gotten my kindle. Before I would go to a library or a bookstore and choose among the best sellers and known ones.
I still feel a bit romantic and would love to see my book in hardcover, do book signings in a bookstore. But that may be a scene from the past, is is possible bookstores are doomed and I am part of what caused this change.
What is that saying? Lying in the bed you’ve made? I hope I can do it, with pleasure.
(Orble Votes: 23)

Twelve Million Steps

Since the 8th of November 2010 I have walked 12,161,788 steps. Twelve million steps! It is a great example of what you can build one step at a time. In Portuguese there is a saying which would translate: “grain by grain the chicken fills its belly”. It is very hard to translate idiomatic expressions, but this one is a good one, meaning by eating one little grain at a time the chicken feeds itself to satisfaction.

 

If I had said to myself today I would have to walk that much in less than two years by the sheer sound of the numbers I wouldn’t have believed I would do it.

The reason I found this number is my iPod. It has this fitness function that I keep always online. I certainly have walked more than that because sometimes the gadget is turned off, runs out of battery or is not in the bag, but that doesn’t happen very frequently.

I have a high average of daily steps, I walk a lot by choice and love and I would say I reach the ideal of around 10,000 steps per day. I do have low days, when I spend all day at home writing, but I also do some longer walks, like the Seven Bridges, sometimes the MS walk, and City2Surf.

I’m thoroughly impressed with myself just because it sounds so cool to have walked that much, even if it is a normal amount per day, almost anyone could do it, I’m happy I did it.

(Orble Votes: 29)