Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bad Apple Agent Blogs

I thought it might make sense to point out some things about agent blogs.

1) All agents, including blogging agents, are fallible.

2) Some agents are bad agents, including a few that blog.

3) Unless the blogging agent indicates otherwise, assume that their comment only applies to them personally, and not for the industry as a whole.

4) Even if the agent does say that everyone in the industry feels the same way, don't necessarily believe it.

5) Agent blogs will inevitably conflict with each other from time to time. The truth is that there is often no right answer to a question. 

Just like any profession, a few bad apples can damage the reputation of the entire field, and so it seems that a few bad agents and their bad blogs have injured some writers' opinions of agents as a whole. I can only ask that you try to keep the same perspective I do when I read queries. I get a few queries every day from people who clearly spent no time researching either me or the industry. I also am the subject of abuse from aspiring writers all the time because I've reached the personal and subjective decision that I don't want to represent their work. However, I don't let the bad spoil my view of the good. I still read and evaluate every query that is sent to me, and I requested six partials last week, my most this year. 


Anonymous said...

You're obviously extremely quick in responding to queries. But just out of curiosity--about how long does it take you to respond to partials?

Jonathan Lyons said...

Anywhere from two weeks to four months, unfortunately. The delay is because I read every query and partial personally, and of course client projects come first. If I am having a busy month in terms of submissions, than I tend to fall behind.

So far this year has been excellent for the agency in terms of submissions and sales, but this also means that I have a huge stack of partials waiting for me to read that were sent motnhs ago.

Maya Reynolds said...

Jonathan: Thanks for the reminder that there are bad apples in every profession.

Ulysses said...

Any words of wisdom on how to recognize a bad apple?

John said...

Hmm, talk about raising as many questions as you answer.

From your post, I'm now wondering: Who are the bad agents who blog?

And ...

Which one of said agent's blog posts prompted your post?

Jonathan Lyons said...

Well, strangely enough I was spurred to post this entry based on reading the comments from an entry on Monday from a very good agent blog - Nathan Bransford.

I'd be frustrated too if someone called me "Jon-Dog". For that matter, I'd probably be annoyed if someone called me Jon or John.

Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Jonathan,
"I also am the subject of abuse from aspiring writers all the time because I've reached the personal and subjective decision that I don't want to represent their work."

Much of the misplaced resentment aimed at you by those you reject comes not only from the author’s immaturity, but a lack of understanding that their work is not as brilliant as they think it is. Researching an agent is always the smart thing to do; but folks do not always do the "smart thing." This frustrates the agents who are swamped and the writer who feels that merely producing a novel length manuscript means they deserve instant praise and success. There is going to be disappointment with a rejection; but the writer is better served when rejected by the agent who handles their genre of work as the feedback will be constructive, as opposed to a rejection based on not meeting an agent’s submissions criteria. As for their being good agents and bad agents, you needn’t feel the need to apologize for the bad apples in your line of work. It is time consuming and your value and professionalism will place you head and shoulders above the rest. I appreciate your willingness to read all submissions and to remain positive.
-Michael J. Kannengieser

Anonymous said...

You said in an earlier blog that for now, you don't like anything to do with the election, Middle East, religion etc. Do you not feel tempted to skip over any queries on these genres to save time? Or do you persevere and read them anyway in case you can find a 'golden nugget' in the trash heap?

Jonathan Lyons said...

I read them, or how would I know if they are about any of those subjects?

Aimless Writer said...

I think the problem stems from writers who take rejection too personally. Okay, one agent doesn't like my story but the next might. I think you never know when you might find the ideal agent so its best to keep plugging along. Also, I think agents sometimes change what they're looking for. Maybe your romance list if full and now you only want suspense. Or maybe you'll never want suspense. (Why we should always check agent websites before sending)
Some agent's who blog have turned me off by the stuff they said. I'd probably not query them now.
The good news is I've found some great agents who made me like them because of their friendly and informative blogs.
I think agents have a tough job. God Bless 'em.

Anonymous said...

Let me rephrase that. Replace the word 'read' with 'consider'. Just interested to know wheter you reject work based soley on genre or do you consider them anyway.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jonathan Lyons said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kelley said...

really? six partials? you know, it's been a bit since you've done a query breakdown.


hint. hint.

sorry. it's fascinating, what can I say?

Anonymous said...

You know, I can't think of a single bad agent blog. Which is pretty amazing. There's one from an agent's assistant that has become unreadable but that's because she's also an author with an ax to grind on the literary vs. commercial thing, and so it's not really about agenting at all.

Agents are so busy that I think most don't blog unless they love it, so you see mostly people like Kristin or Jessica or Nathan who are diligent because they love agenting and they love authors and they really just want to reach out.

Doesn't hurt to keep their names in the public eye too, but mostly, it's too much of a commitment to do half-assed.

Ryan Field said...

Well. Another really good post.

MelodyO said...

I've never commented here before, but I did have to pop in to say that the term "Jon-Dog" made me laugh out loud.

Kimber An said...

Wow! This is wonderful. Most aspiring authors and agents have something in common - we've both been punished for the sins of others. Most of us are good people doing the very best we can.

Julie Weathers said...

I've been thinking about this for a while now. Hopefully, the WIP will be on the submission trail this summer.

I read a lot of agent blogs for a few reasons.

I get good hints on how to improve my work.

I get to know the agents better.

It helps me get over my stage fright about agents. Funny thing is, I have interviewed rich and powerful people as well as starters, and usually get good interviews because I can put them at ease. but when it comes to agents I shrivel up.

Even though I feel I sort of know some of you agents through your blogs, I would still feel odd about addressing you as anything but Mr. or Ms. (Insert correct name with correct spelling here.) I guess it's the southern girl in me.

At the end of the day, it's still an introduction to a business relationship.

Are agents put off my a contact that is too formal?


Lynne said...

Gosh. I have a law degree! Can we be friends? I promise never to send you lawyer jokes. We had a problem with contaminated water on the street where I lived. 10 houses produced 4 lawyers. Our house had two, my brother and I. One house turned out a very smart woman who married the law & became the first female partner in a national company. Last house produced a lawyer convinced that the world is out to get her. Soon, we'll let her know the truth. The world *is* out to get her. Just can't decide when to let the cat out of the bag.

Janet Reid said...

What on earth do you mean, fallible??
Etched in stone, baby, etched in stone.