Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

In defense of the literary agent   9 comments

I was briefly following a literary agent on Twitter who dispenses advice one day a month (I think it’s called #queryday). I’ve never heard of this person, but she has a substantial following.  I believe she’s addressing mostly people who are in search of an agent or a book deal.

One of her tweets hit me like an arrow –it was the last one I read before I removed myself from her followers. She said, An agent’s job is not to handhold or coddle or boost a writer’s self-esteem. An agent’s job is to sell the manuscript.” She put the declaration out there, as far as I could see it wasn’t in response to anything anyone asked.  I tweeted back (sort of jokingly), “Well then whose job is it to coddle the writer- the publicist, the editor, the husband?” And she shot back, It’s nobody’s job to coddle a writer. If a writer needs coddling, s/he’s in the wrong business.”

And to this I would like to say, “Wha-hat? WHAT????”  Who is more insecure and in need of consolation than a writer?  And what is this ‘not my job?’  I used to work as a clerk in an insurance company, it was my job to process death claims, it wasn’t my job to tell people that I was very sorry about the passing of their loved one and wait for half an hour while they looked for a working pen, but it was something I did anyway. I also used to change the water in the water cooler, which also wasn’t in the job description.

The thing that got me about this is that I have an agent who does all of that stuff that supposedly ”isn’t an agent’s job’.  And my agent is arguably the best and most desired literary agent in the business.

It’s true. I don’t generally call her up and say “nobody wuvs me.” Or “does my paperback make me look fat?” But when we’re talking about my work, I definitely whine and she consoles. Christ, there’s a lot of  getting slammed when you’re a professional writer, A LOT. Public and private.  Even great writers get it.  Rejected manuscripts, snotty reviews, readings where only two people show up (none of this has ever happened to me of course, but I’ve heard about it.)

I mentioned this particular tweet to my agent  because I’d wondered if I was the one who was off-base. Her response:  Horrified.  “Writers work alone,” she said,  “we are a kind of support line.”

And it’s not just my agent. I know a lot of other lit agents. They represent people who are just starting out and people who’ve been cranking out best-sellers year after year and these agents treats their clients the same way.  I mean there are certainly ones (like the Twitterer) who may not operate like that, but I would be wary of someone who announces that they don’t coddle.  Agents are there for writers in many ways –it is not just selling the ms.

I don’t know. I just think agents get a bad enough wrap, why give one to yourself?


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Posted April 24, 2009 by julieklam in Twitter

Twitter Chat   Leave a comment

I am doing a Twitter Chat with the great Patrick Brown of Vroman’s bookstore on Tuesday, April 14th at 2 pm EST.  I am @julieklam  and Patrick is @vromans. I know, I know, it’s crazy martian talk!

Posted April 10, 2009 by julieklam in Twitter