Monday, January 16, 2012

None Shall Pass

I want to know what you think of the term 'Gatekeepers' for agents.  Personally, I don't like it.  It sounds elitist and condescending and as if they are bouncers that are supposed to keep people out.  In reality agents want to find good stories, they want people to be ready to publish.  For what it's worth I don't hear many agents using it, mostly writers who are maybe having a hard time. 

What do you think?  Is Gatekeeper appropriate or not?  How do you view it? 

13 comments:

  1. I view agents as Door Openers, not Gate Keepers.

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    1. Exactly! I'm glad I'm not the only one.

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    2. That's a great phrase, Melissa!

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  2. Hey, I came over from Melissa Ann Goodwin's because your comment mentioned designing quilts. I love to piece quilts and have been a regular industry since my son went off to college this past fall. (Empty nest therapy.) I can see why the disgruntled author feels like agents are gate keepers, rejection is a strong emotion, but you are right they are there to help. I vote with Melissa for Door Openers. Cheers!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by! I'm a strictly amateur quilter. I just do it for fun in my spare time, which I don't have much of anymore. I love talking quilts and finding others who love it though. It looks like you have quilt pictures on your blog! I'll have to check it out in detail.

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  3. It's the publishers which are the gatekeepers...they control what gets published or not. Agents are like scouts for a major league team...they find the raw material (the best there is) and then try to sell it.

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    1. Excellent point Jo. To me, agents have always seemed more on the side of the author.

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  4. Gatekeepers is an excellent term for agents, and publishers as well. It’s not an unsavoury term of itself.

    . .. perhaps, once upon a time their 'gatekeeping' had a purpose in keeping the 'riff-raff' from reaching the public's ear/eyes. But the standards they set were constructed by rich white males, with a very clear mandate of what was acceptable and what wasn't, according to their own agendas.

    The interwebz has changed the game forever. Smaller publishing houses are springing up (and sometimes dying just as fast) like weeds. Self-published is no longer a dirty word.

    The public has now become it's own gatekeeper. If enough people like a book, it will sell. If they don't, then the book won't be around for very long. It's nice to know that we, as a reading public, have the option to make those choices for ourselves.

    I don't know where this revolution is going to end up. No-one does. But, unless those 'gatekeeper' publishers and agents find a different model to do business they're going to 'gatekeep' themselves the way of the vcr, floppy disks, and flag men who used to walk in front of cars to keep them travelling at a modest 5kph ... into extinction. Some may survive but they will never have the clout they did before the digital revolution. That genie is well and truly out of the bottle.
    To respond to JL,s comment … agents don’t search out the best raw material there is, they go with what they think they can sell. (And sometimes the two coincide) Do you think some bratty reality TV celebrity’s ‘memoirs’ will equal Shakespeare? Of course not, but they’ll sell!

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    1. You bring up some good points. As a business, publishers and agents are worried about what they think they can sell. Just like a store will only stock merchandise they think people will want. (don't get me started on clothing trends. Grrrr) I can see how Gatekeeper could apply here.

      You're right about the publishing world changing and the need for growth in the traditional publishing industry. Should be a fun ride.

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    2. I think I agree with Widdershins. Agents and publishers very much control what's published and not simply because it's well written. That doesn't mean they're all horrible and elitist, and I appreciate when I hear of an agent that goes out on a limb, so to speak, for a project s/he really believes in.

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    3. I think publishers have more control than agents do. But then publishers don't always see it if agents don't put it before them. It's an interesting relationship that exists between agents authors and publishers.

      I know there are some countries that don't rely on agents like we do here in the US. Does anyone reading this have experience with that kind of system and want to tell us about it?

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  5. Hi, Sara! I finally got here by googling your name. Now why on earth has blogger been stopping me when I came from the links on my blog roll? Oh well, I'm here, now.

    I agree the term "gatekeeper" makes me think of the people around a president who serve as his "mind guards" to control how many people pester him/her. ; )

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    1. Sorry you couldn't get here, wonder what was wrong? Well, I'm glad I'm googlable.

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