Go here to see my pal Deidre talking about how agents aren’t really heartless, and how we have our own horror stories to tell about treatment from writers who view us only as a means to an end and not as people who are passionate about Story and helping talented writers make careers from their dreams. (Or even as people who have lives of our own.)
Yes, there are bad, evil agents out there only in it for a buck or two, and sometimes without even submitting your work at all. I’ve gotten letters from writers who have poured out their hearts – and bitterly – about this. And I sympathize. Those people give the good agents a bad name. I’ve also gotten what Deidre describes as “hate mail” – vicious diatribes against Agent-kind. It pains me to battle against the perception of agent-as-enemy in a way that so often feels upstream. I can only hope to band together with agents like Deidre and show writers agent-as-advocate as an alternative.
And to remind myself that I shouldn’t get caught up in the writers-as-adversaries psychology, which can be tempting on the days one feels like a target, I also keep a file of the thank-you notes that have come from various conferences I’ve attended and from writers to whom I’ve offered a comment or two of feedback when I decline submissions. There aren’t many of them – only a few writers take the time to recognize these minor contributions to their journey from page one to publication. But from this small percentage, I can draw a picture of good writers seeking their dreams instead of those who are angry, bitter and denied; who feel they must lash out against an available target.