To be misunderstood can be the writer’s punishment
for having disturbed the reader’s peace.
The greater the disturbance, the greater the possibility of misunderstanding.
I read agents’ blogs for several reasons. One is to learn as much as I can about the publishing industry. Another is to learn what separates one agent from another as an author’s representative. I’m naïve enough to believe I’m eventually going to find the agent that God has in mind for me – that one person who believes in my work and wants to help me refine it, then be an advocate for it with publishing houses.
The agent/author relationship strikes me as being much like a marriage. There’s need of good communication, mutual understanding and appreciation, trust and commitment, and the willingness to apologize when necessary.
Until this past weekend I don’t think I’ve ever come across an agent who said, “I messed up royally,” but those are the exact words of Books & Such agent Rachelle Gardner, along with “I completely miscommunicated.” Personally, I didn’t think she messed up at all, but her blog post entitled “Will My Publisher Let Me Self-Publish Too?” in which she attempted “to explain the publishers’ concerns in this new age of hybrid authors who are both traditionally- and self-published,” set off an explosion among her readers. Several of them misunderstood her stance and took offence.
Such an outcry! But rather than show frustration with those who clearly missed her point, with her usual grace Rachelle accepted the blame for miscommunicating and took the time to respond to several commenters and write a second post* to clarify her words and correct the misunderstanding. What a wonderful example of Christian humility and patience!
Human nature often makes us want to defend our choices, to justify and argue. It’s not easy to take criticism, or to say, “I’m sorry. Let me try and get it right this time” when you weren’t wrong in the first place. In an industry that’s all about words, communication and relationships, Rachelle Gardner has demonstrated the qualities that set her apart as an extraordinary agent and author advocate.
What’s the one most important characteristic you would hope to find in an agent representing you and your work?
Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating
than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
A tender answer turns away rage, but a prickly reply spikes anger.
Proverbs 15:1 (The Voice)
“On Monday I wrote a post in which I attempted to explain the publishers’ concerns in this new age of hybrid authors who are both traditionally- and self-published. But I messed up royally.
“In my effort to illuminate the publisher’s perspective on things, I inadvertently came across as completely defending the publishers’ viewpoints, and somehow being on the side of “Big Pub” (as some commenters put it) rather than being an advocate for authors. That was my mistake. I badly miscommunicated, and I regret it because it led to so much misunderstanding.” (Rachelle Gardner)
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