Frustrations with Agents
This comes from a writer friend who is currently trying to sprinkle salt on the tail of a literary agent and who is writing the requisite, courteous–indeed, obsequious letters Since being obsequious is hard on the nerves, this is the letter the writer would Dear Ms. N—
Jenny S. recommended you as a literary agent, though I doubt if I have enough flesh on my literary carcass to interest you, let alone glut your maw. Meretricious Ltd. published my first book in 2004 and I was astonished by how little money it made, though they tell me (but who knows?) that it did pretty well for a first novel. It got one horrible review and one good one. Lame Duck Press brought out the paperback, which I never saw in any bookstore anywhere.
My second novel is probably too long and everyone agrees it will be hard to sell, because it isn’t exactly like very other book written this year and you won’t be able to assign a brand name to it. Meretricious Ltd. has kept it for over a year and I can’t get them to take my calls, the filthy swine. I fired my first agent because she wouldn’t take my calls or get me my check and I fired my second agent because in four months she never sent the book out and she wouldn’t take my calls and then I tried a third agent who decided after six months that she really didn’t have time to read new manuscripts.
So you see, I you are all scum and I expect very little. I do not anticipate that you will have any literary taste, compassion, integrity, loyalty or even the most basic rudiments of business etiquette. I am not so foolish as to think you would ever incur any expense, take any risk, or spend any time on me. Instead, we will exist as predator and prey. You will bleed me of money, time and hope, and expect me to be grateful for the privilege.
If you think you might be willing to have your secretary dial the telephone for you, so that you could make a few feeble attempts to place the novel it took me four years to write, please give me a call before the century draws to a close. I remain,
Yours in contempt, etc"
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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