Monday, August 1, 2016

Angry Post

The last time I did an angry post was a couple years ago, and I felt really weird about it.  I'm not an angry person by nature and I also always second-guess anything I think about writing or saying that is negative on my public/professional platforms.  But after reading this article that I came upon in the Twittersphere, I knew that this was going to be my blog topic this week.  It is by an intern who shares a very mean post by a misogynistic man, who insults two agents he thinks did not give him his due at a conference. 

Besides just making me mad, it sort of reaffirmed the reason that I started this blog: a lot of people (and not just frustrated writers) have no idea what it means to be a literary agent.  We have second jobs; we go through submissions processes with editors that are similar to how writers query; our work as agents involve more than just reading all day; we have good days and bad days; we are people, not gatekeepers.

Quickly looking through David Benjamin's post, and omitting corrections for the baselessly rude things he says (because my refutes for those would just be, "What the hell is wrong with you, dude?"), here are some things he and a commenter called Anonymous Friend, whose comments are in the screenshot above, gets wrong about literary agents: 

What David Benjamin Says
The Truth
Agents are forced by their agencies to go to conferences.
We are invited to conferences and choose which ones to attend.  There is no conference quota, which you can see by noticing that not all agents attend x number of conferences every year.  Sometimes I go to ten a year; sometimes I go to five.
They hate to read and they hate writing conferences.
The truth here should be obvious.  If we weren’t insanely passionate about reading and working with writers, we would all be jumping off buildings, because 80% OF WHAT WE DO is read and talk to authors.
Agents reject authors on “pretexts.”
I do admit, having an author sit down in front of you or write a query that tells you that they’ve written 97 books and want you to work on them all is daunting.  Because, you know, that is a lot of words.  But the idea that we don’t reject for real reasons, even if that reason is just that our list is so full that we can’t take on your superbly written work, is stupid.  I’m not going to turn down the most amazing thing I’ve ever read if because I’d rather go home and watch TV.  I want a successful career as much as you do.
Agents are MFA rejects who get into agenting to make money.
Agents have to have some experience in the industry before they become agents, whether that is interning or working in another area of the business, so ABSOLUTELY NONE OF US are under the illusion that working in publishing is going to make us rich.  It will maybe help us rent a cute condo in Hoboken, but that’s about it.
Agents think they are gatekeepers, but they let things like 50 SHADES OF GRAY through.
On this one, I can’t speak for all agents, but I hate the use of the term “gatekeeper.”  For one thing, I’m not deciding who gets to sit next to Shakespeare.  And also, we are looking for trendsetters as well as passion projects.
We take things out on writers because we are fragile, raw, and bitter and also lack business ethics.
NO!!  I do sometimes get into bad moods, like a human, but when that happens, I take it out on ice cream or on my dirty apartment.  I don’t make myself feel better by going through my submissions folder and cackling.  The business ethic thing is bullshit.  If we were unethical, we’d bring back reading fees and take 50% commission.

Okay, that's my diatribe for the year.  Next week will be exciting news!


  1. Considering the sh*t in that a**hole's post (and the response from the "Anonymous Friend," I'd say you were remarkably restrained.

    Funny, as soon as I saw the guy's name, I was sure this was something old, but I think he's done it before. And he has: though I note without quite as much nasty. Either he's coming closer to the end of his rope, or he views a "conversation" with a (male) publisher differently than with a (female) agent. I'm not going to read anymore of his postings. Too much effort for a lesson I already know, which is you don't dump where you want to eat.

    That was kind of disgusting, sorry.

    Have a great night!

  2. Also forgot to add: somewhere in that post is something about paying $50 for a 10 minute pitch. I will guarantee the agent saw none of that money, since agents aren't usually paid anything beyond a stipend to participate in conferences.

  3. And it's wrong... Fifty Shades of Grey was self-published.

  4. O_O


    I heard rumbles about this, but I didn't see the full thing. But yikes and yikes and yikes. This really speaks to the writer's insecurities and thoughts of grandeur. Doing freelance editorial work, sometimes I see this in writers who will not take criticism and I'm always left wondering why you paid me so much of your hard earned money if you didn't want to take advice :/ It's like they just wanted to pay for a seal of approval, for someone to say YOU ARE BRILLIANT, OKAY? If he couldn't handle a rejection at a conference from an agent ... I shudder to think how he would handle any of the other thousand ways a writer gets rejected throughout their writing journey (editors, reviewers, readers, etc, etc, etc)