In one of her posts (I don't have a link to the specific post. Sorry) Janet Reid said to writers "you are not a beggar at the banquet of publishing". I mentioned this to The Engineer and said something about writing relationships being a partnership, that it was about trust. He looked at me queerly and asked if that was what I really believed.
I'm glad he asked becuase it made me think about it, but, Yes! I do believe writing relationships are a partnership. I want an agent and publisher who look at me as an equal. It's about trust. Trust between the reader and writer, the writer and themselves, the writer their agent and publisher. I am not begging. I'll keep querying an writing and improving, but I will not beg. This is a business relationship. How can I have the respect of the people I work with if I don't respect myself?
I've never liked the term 'gatekeeper' and I'm not fond of agents who use this term. In fact, I don't query them. Agents don't offer to represent books they don't think are ready but that's more about business than about keeping someone out of publishing. Do people look at med school or the MCAT as a gatekeeper? Maybe. Are they upset about it? No. At least not if they plan on seeing a doctor in the near future. When seeing a doctor we want someone we can trust with our lives. It may not be as serious as heart surgery but when we pick up a book don't we want to know it's not going to be a waste of our time and money? Does that make us elitest? Or just practical?
I don't see agents as bouncers at a bar meant to keep out 'undesirables' I see them more as elevator attendants. The people who try to help us get to the right floor, but they can only take us to a floor inside their building. If we need a floor at a different building then we need a different agent. Or maybe we need a ranch house with no elevator at all. There are many paths to publishing, and just because one agent isn't right for us doesn't mean that they are throwing us out, it just means we need to try somewhere else, or polish up a little. Not all agents can sell all things. Just like I wouldn't want a podiatrist to do my open heart surgery.
We are not beggars, and agents aren't bouncers. (In most cases). We just need to find our trusted partner. I could compare this to dating and finding the 'perfect' spouse but that's a post for another day. Writing is an art, and it's subjective. Because we put our heart into it rejection can hurt. But writing is also a business, and unless we treat it like a business we'll never find the right floor, or the right elevator.
Elevator attendants and finding the right floor. Those images will stick in my brain; they are perfect.ReplyDelete
I have to agree...the elevator attendant metaphor is spot on and I think all parties involved need to remember that the relationship is very symbiotic.ReplyDelete
'I don't see agents as bouncers at a bar meant to keep out 'undesirables' I see them more as elevator attendants.'ReplyDelete
Gosh, Sara, I love this. What a great post.
Nice! As long as Droopy isn't the elevator operator!ReplyDelete
Or we can skip the banquet altogether, polish our craft, and dine at a table for one. ;)ReplyDelete
Love the elevator attendant analogy. Well said, Sara.ReplyDelete
I think that's the right way to see it. Agents aren't gatekeepers as they can't promise that we will cross any further than the gate. But they can certainly takes us far, and through much different routes than if we were to go at it alone. Agents want to find new writers and new works to fall in love with. It's all about finding that right match between writer, agent, and story. :)ReplyDelete
What a wonderful post. I agree. I have a newer agent in the field and she can only get me so far. The rejections are all subjective and heart wrenching. All I can do is keep trying to improve my writing. Pub. Houses are looking for sellers, money is involved...Doesn't mean your writing isn't up to par...ReplyDelete
This is such a great post. And I totally agree. We shouldn't have to feel we have to beg agents or publishers. It's a partnership.ReplyDelete
Another fantastic analogy. Too true, and a good attitude to have!ReplyDelete
Yes, we are not beggars, but we can't be choosers as well. Great post!ReplyDelete
I agree that it's important to keep in mind that we're not "beggars" in our relationships with the various "gatekeepers" of whatever aspect of the entertainment industry we happen to be in -- and this is becoming more and more true, with our ability to directly access the audience, rather than needing to know someone who knows someone, and the "gatekeepers" know this all too well.ReplyDelete
I totally agree! I once heard an agent say you need to date them first because the relationship is like a marriage and you want it to be a good one. Great post!ReplyDelete
Great post, and I completely agree (also, I love Janet Reid's blog! :) ) We're not begging, and it's really important to remember that. Querying is HARD, and scary, and can sometimes feel like begging - but it's not. I like to think of agents as guides, not gatekeepers, and why on earth would I want a guide who doesn't want to worth with me? Thanks for the awesome reminders, here :)ReplyDelete
Oh my goodness, that elevator analogy is brilliant. Now throw in a commission or tipping fee, and I think it will be perfect. ;) I adore agents everywhere who do their job and truly seek to progress author's careers.ReplyDelete
No we are not beggars. But I feel the publishing industry does not respect us. Not at all, which is why I decided to bypass them... for now.ReplyDelete
I'm with you, Sara! I'm not a beggar and I refuse to be denigrated as such.ReplyDelete
I so agree. This can be said about many business relationships. If you are not comfortable with your partner, it is time to move on and find a new one.ReplyDelete
I can only echo what others have said-- great comparison image. We are not beggars.ReplyDelete
Lovin' this analogy. In the land of creativity, bring on the partners.ReplyDelete
This is fantastic, and very true. At least, I think so! I want a partner that I love to work with and who loves working with me. Someone who believes in me and my writing. I hadn't even thought about this before, but it's true. Thanks for sharing this thought. :)ReplyDelete
This is a great post, Sara! Thank you for telling it like it is!ReplyDelete
"We are not beggars!" Amen!! :)
Good post! I just parted with an agent over that very issue. It wasn't a partnership anymore.ReplyDelete
BTW: I just tried to comment on your next post, but couldn't find the place to leave a comment.
Happy for you, Sara. Couldn't leave a comment on today's post, so I'm doing it here.ReplyDelete
I like your metaphors. If I ever find an agent, I agree with you, I'd like it to be a partnership.ReplyDelete