Grumbling Big Time

I’m having trouble digesting that the blogosphere is still reverberating with reactions to #queryfail and the resulting backlash dubbed #agentfail. I’m not linking to these because I think it’s time the venting stopped.


It seems like everyone has an opinion on why writers are so angry at agents — Nathan Bransford, Jennifer Jackson, Johnathan Lyons, Victoria Strauss, Ginger Clark, Jessica Faust, Janet Reid, and Rachelle Gardner to name just a few of the more visible ones. Most express surprise at the intensity of the anger. I suspect there is truth in one agent’s assumption that it stems from the frustration of unsuccessful writers whose efforts at publication have been thwarted by rejections from those who are seen as the gatekeepers of the industry.


As a writer, however, I’m embarrassed at the whining, ranting and nastiness that has erupted. There are frustrations in any business. Anyone who has done her homework knows the pathway to publication isn’t a freeway. Complaining about the bumps is neither productive nor respectful of those who are trying to pave the way for us. I think, as writers, our energy is better spent focusing on what we do best – writing — and not in trying to tell agents how to do their job.


One reader on Gretchen McNeil’s blog commented, “You expect professionalism, give it.”  Well said!


Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

5 thoughts on “Grumbling Big Time

  1. I agree with your key points. Whining & badmouthing is unacceptable in this, or any business. I didn’t read that many of the comments – for me, it’s like watching re-runs on TV. I will say that some of the venting was aimed toward agents that get snarky or condescending, or those prone to ridiculing writers. There’s no room for that either.

    In the past I spent plenty of time reading agent blogs – Nathan’s in particular – & ultimately decided to forego the submission process & self published. I never submitted a query. (Thanks Nathan for making it clear that there are viable options.) It wasn’t that I didn’t think my work was worthy but I had several strikes against me. (1) My age at 52 – Why would I want to wait? (2) I didn’t / don’t write with the idea of gaining fame & fortune – I just enjoy writing. I don’t need validation by going through the whole “you’re not really published” debate. Who cares? I have a fantastic marriage, a great life & terrific career already – this is frosting on the cake. (3) I write MG/YA fiction geared toward boys. Not a great commercial market. What would be the attraction for any traditional publisher?

    With all of that outta the way – My book is selling. They say most self pubbed authors don’t sell more than 200 books & most of them are sold to family or friends. Bad Latitude has sold way more than that in only 3 months & none to family or friends. I made a decision & it seems to have worked out well. Nothing to brag about & certainly nothing to get snarky about.

    Do I promote self publishing? No. Do I argue against the traditional route or the big time publishers, bookstores etc? No. Do I think that writers that go through the process are nuts? No. Do I think agents are evil? Nope. Do I think publishing – as we know it – is dead or dying (or hope that it dies)? Also no. I just do my thing & enjoy the heck out of it.

    Finally – Do I whine or have I ever whined? No way.

    Good post.

  2. Thanks for sharing your perspective, Dave, and your story. The whole #agentfail reaction might never have started if it hadn’t been for a few insensitive agents, but even that doesn’t justify the amount of vitriol unleashed by disgruntled aspiring writers.

    As for POD and self publishing, they have their place in today’s publishing environment, as you’ve found. They give you a freedom and control over your product and how you choose to market it that may not be possible with traditional publishing. You can decide how, or even if, you will promote your work based on what’s important to you.

    It isn’t for everyone, but it’s working for you… and I’m glad it’s kept you from joining the whiners. 😉

  3. You’re covering another reason why I self-published. It was so disheartening being subjected to the whims of very neurotic agents. The bad and forth rhetoric was what set me off. “I love your work.” Then a month later, “Who are you again?” That happened 3 times. I had to let go of any hope that there were reasonable agents out there willing to act responsibly.

    Yes, I will admit to faling prey to whining if the subject’s brought up, otherwise, I’m kosher.

  4. Actual negative experiences entitle you to whine a bit, Joylene. I can understand why you would feel disheartened. But lumping all agents into the ‘unreasonable/irresponsible’ category isn’t fair to those who are doing their jobs well. It may be naive of me but I truly believe they are in the majority. Connecting with the right one seems to be where the problems are. Maybe it’s the process that’s to blame, not the people.

  5. I think sometimes we forget that agents and writers are working toward the same goal: getting good books published. And agents don’t get paid until they sell books, so they’re definitely hoping to find hidden treasure in the “slush pile”! Still, people do sometimes have bad experiences, but I think you’re right, Mom, that it may be the process that’s to blame.

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