Thursday, October 12, 2006

Black Death

Thanks to writer and editor Tami Parrington, I've found another promising industry blog.
One of Miss Read's inaugural posts, titled We're Watching You, is a Men-in-Black health advisory, reminding writers to avoid the cyber plague of bitching and bad-mouthing agents and editors - if they want to be and stay published.
Other agents and editors have commented from time to time on keeping files and black lists on submitters who are obviously diseased.
That should be no surprise. Publishers and agents invest real money in writers, lots of it.
These notes and files obviously go beyond nyah, nyah letters and nasty rebuttals to rejection.
The gatekeepers google themselves. They google potential clients to assess a submitter for ether-borne bio-hazards of the bitter, complaining, un-cooperative kind.
Further than that, some bloggers tend to emphasize their screwy side.
Now, I don't mean those whose hilarious exaggerations or mock-mournful accounts of frustrations and daily drama which leave you roaring with laughter and/or smiling in sympathy.
I mean the breed who appear to think revelations about themselves as erratic, unstable dingbats or brooding obsessives mark them as artistes.
Original. Individual. Special.
Excused for any scatty-headed, die-away admissions and failures because of their sensitivity, their uniqueness, their talent.
Um...would you care to do the business of publishing, risk your cash and reputation on the second ilk?
Just a thought.


S. W. Vaughn said...

Too right, Bernita. Being a public ass might get you noticed for a while, but it isn't going to help you out in the long run.

I know a lot of people (inexplicably) find jerks funny these days, but they do tend to lose their appeal much faster than those who are famous for being nice. Thank goodness, there is still that. :-)

MissWrite said...

Big thought... big, big, big thought. :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard that editors and agents do have a "crazy" meter when first interacting with a prospective writer. They want stable, professional, and pleasant. I suppose there are a fair number of the other variety out there. Probably the worst are those who are too tied to, or invested in, their work. A piece of writing may feel like our life's blood, but to everyone else, it's only a commodity.

Bernita said...

Dropping one's drawers on blogland isn't all that much different from doing same on one's front lawn, Sonia.

??? Tami?

"...stable, professional, and pleasant."
That's my impression anyway. Well said, Jason.

Ric said...

Since the advent of Miss Snark, I think we've all learned a lot about how agencies work - and what needs to be done. This is all a learning process.

Being in sales, sometimes the trick is knowing when to SHUT UP. Early on, I lost a lot of sales because I kept talking, eventually saying something wrong, inappropriate, stupid, or gossipy.

Let them wonder.

good advice for sales, good advice for writers in search of an agent or publisher.

Instead of telling them, think long and hard about how you'll respond when they ask.

MissWrite said...

Sorry to have been too vague there, Bernita. You said -- just a thought... I said... big, big, big thought. LOL

Great post. And, since I'm elaborating here (see though, being vague just doesn't work for me, I have to expound, lmao) reflections of yourself on your blog do not only show possible associates how you are to deal with, they also show potential readers what to expect from you. Very few people like a whinning b*!*%! LOL

Anonymous said...

I don't argue the merits of a single word you've written, Bernita.

That said, I'd ask you the value of promoting the fearmongering of any negative "blog press" about a given agent. Are all agents above criticism?

Granted, it's just dumb to show your ass to the writing community to score a moment of vindictive joy against a gatekeeper.

Dwight slinks a little lower in his chair to duck the harsh glares of hypocrisy

Respectfully though, I ask you if that justifies the chilling effect of the "You better not speak truth to power because the power brokers may be watching you" flip side of your message?

Have you read Gentleman Agent? Is there really no Maginot line of behavior beyond which I'm justified in publicly saying, "Uh... Friends of Mine... I think perhaps this Agent person is in the wrong business?"

Bonnie Calhoun said...

I love your command of words...and the way you string them together too! LOL! Sometimes you can say ordinary things and make them sound like a Hallmark card!

I agree totall. There have been more than a few times that I've read a post, and thought, "I don't think I've have told that to the world!" LOL!

Bernita said...

Good advice, Ric, thank you.

Sorry, Tami - realize I was a bit dim there.
The logical continuum, one's eventual market is the reader.
I imagine agents and editors have this aspect of professionalism in mind as well.
If one is a writer, one can't consider a blog a private diary, unconnected and separate from one's public career.

Bernita said...

I was wondering if that argument would show up, Dwight.
Though I didn't expect to be accused of promoting "fearmongering"
by advocating responsibility and common sense,or mature discretion and courtesy.
I can't see anything "chilling" in expressing my opinion that one should be aware of the inevitable consequences of shooting off one's mouth.
I discussed a likely effect, not cause.
So often it is not really a question of a "truth" at all - merely a highly subjective opinion based on specific circumstances - so please don't wave a sub-set of freedom of speech at me.Freedom is never free.
Feel free to storm the barricades in defense of "truth" if you wish. Just don't be surprised to find it's a fragile shield and people shoot back.

Further, there is precious little evidence, other than his own claim, that the person to whom you refer is actually an agent.
I'm sure you know that many people have said so -publicly.

Thank you for those flattering words, Bonnie. Would you believe I'm rather quiet, face to face?
Makes one wince sometimes, don't they?

Candice Gilmer said...

Maybe it was just how I was raised, but I really don't get the whole "I'm pissed and must rant at the world" thing.

Possibly because, like you said, Bernita, who knows who could be reading my blog.

Now don't get me wrong, i"ve been known to have a rant on occasion, but usually I keep my mouth shut about who I was ranting about specifically, personally or professionally.

Maybe that comes from being a hairdresser for 11 years...

Dennie McDonald said...

rude is rude whether it is "Jackass" making people laugh on the big and little screen or someone slamming an author/editor on their blog -

the ONLY person I truly gritch about is a relative and then I try to keep it mum as the MIL tends to read my blog (though she would not tell the person what I said but it might peeve her a bit - oh dear, I guess I can be rude too!)

Gabriele C. said...

Being an anal orifice online is one thing that turns me off. Another is those constant My Life and My Writing Suck-whiners (more frequent on LJ, it seems to me). I don't want to read about divorces, misbheaving kids, form rejections, kaput cars and messed up mortgages delivered in a Life Hates Me-tone with a huge amount of navel gazing.

Hilarious presentation of various catastrophes is another matter, and so is a serious request for advise about kaput cars and misbehaving kids.

normiekins said...

i'm going to assume it's about the bottom line to the publishing company for a first piece? that case professionalism will always take precedence. We have similar lists in the investment industry....and word travels fast.

Bernita said...

We all rant at times, Candice, but usually, as you say, about something general, an idea and attitude - not the individual. One can enjoy a good rant of a certain type.
I imagine you do hear things - some you'd rather not know.

My children read my blog sometimes, Dennie.So far they've been quite polite about it.

You've summed it up very well, Gabriele.
The "Life Hates Me" line does get tedious. I find I run out of cyber-sympathy fairly fast in those cases.

Bernita said...

Exactly, Normiekins.
One could guess that many professions do - in self-defense.
Time and stress untangling a sulky, obstreperous client means money. They are not running a charity.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
EA Monroe said...

Hi Bernita. I see you are stirring the cauldron today! I read this tidbit on Laurel K Hamilton's blog the other day. Granted she's tired and cranky, but the part about the "light bulb" sticks in my mind. She's "earned" her right to whine, but sometimes negativity is such a turn off.

"I was never one of those writers that some editor or publisher picked to be a star. All the success I've had has come through hard work, and you, the reader's, word of mouth. It would be years before I had a publicity campaign with any teeth to it. I had an agent, and she helped sell the book, but this book editor would be the first to let me know just where a beginning writer is in the evolutionary ladder of publishing. Beginning writers are like light bulbs, if one burns out, you can always buy more."

I wouldn't want to be a light bulb or a public jackass! You guys better let me know if and when I am!! ;-)

MissWrite said...

Feel free to storm the barricades in defense of "truth" if you wish. Just don't be surprised to find it's a fragile shield and people shoot back.

Printing that, and taping it to my computer screen. I LOVE it.

Gabriele--too true.

Bernita said...

It is an interesting simile, EA. May you be incandescent,1000watt, and long-lasting.

Simple case of truth 'n consequences, Tami...

Candice Gilmer said...

Bernita, you're right, I do hear things on occasion that, frankly, I really don't need to know about my clients...

And for reference to anyone out there, if your hairdresser cuts the whole family, DON"T talk about your sex life (or lack there of) with her! Talk about awkward..

Jeff said...

My grandpa used to be fond of the saying, "what goes around, comes around" and also "never say anything you can't take back."

Bernita said...

Grandpa was a smart man, Jeff.

Jaye Wells said...

Agents and editors are no doubt aware that we all have our Publisher and Agent Beware lists. The difference is they can and should share their experiences because people are seeking them out for that information. I've yet to have an agent or editor ask me what they could do differently to get my business.

Bernita said...

A case of supply and demand, I suppose, Jaye.

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