Thursday, April 1, 2010

How Great Thou Art

Blogs are weird, literary blogs are weirder, but blogging agents (blagents) are the weirdest. I only ever knew agents who went to great lengths to hide themselves, including coming up with fictional signatures for slush rejections (usually names of movie stars), so that when mail arrived for, say "Vivian Vance,"  they knew how seriously to take it (not very). The agents I knew never wanted desperate writers getting close because basically desperate writers are smelly. The agents I knew already had to suffer thousands of stories from strangers and casual acquaintances about someone's aunt's new boyfriend who was a writer, or someone's best friend's best friend who wrote a novel (always awful in the end). It's why I liked Miss Snark; she was anonymous and saucy, admired for her spunk. But have you ever read the comments on the blogs of Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Rachel Gardner, etc.? Those blagents get a whole lot of smoke blown where the sun don't shine. In my day, agents would put smoke (and mirrors) to other uses. I guess it's nice that privacy (some would call it trickery) is a thing of the past. It's nice that agents stand with us in the light of day now...some of them anyway. And maybe it's good that blagents make themselves virtually available for attention, especially since some would say their place and function in the profession is shrinking. But, I don't know, something about all those poor writers and would-be authors standing around in the crowded comments section vying to get a piece of the blagentry with false flattery makes me sad.

UPDATE: There's a lot of ridiculous April Fool's Day activity in the blagentry....check it out.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are they successful? I would think that top agents wouldn't have (1) the time or (2) the patience for dealing with comments from wannabe writers. So I always assumed they did this to get business and exposure because, well, they need business and exposure.

Anonymous said...

Um, Nathan Bransford has a book coming out. The more followers he has, the more aspiring writers want to win his favor...the more books he sells. Just sayin'.

What is the first thing blogging agents tell you? Have a platform. Have a built in book buying audience. But don't blog about your writing. Make the reader feel like he's getting something of value from your blog.

Bingo.

Anonymous said...

Um, Nathan Bransford has a book coming out. The more followers he has, the more aspiring writers want to win his favor...the more books he sells.

What is the first thing blogging agents tell you? Have a platform. Have a built in book buying audience. But don't blog about your writing. Make the reader feel like he's getting something of value from your blog.

Too clever by half on the part of Mr. Bransford? Maybe, if his audience weren't largely desperate writers dying to break in.

heynonnynonymous said...

Hmmm...I think you're on to something, Anon 6:19 pm. Betsy Lerner (W,R's best friend now if she takes Jacob Appel as a client) also has a book about writing. That's convenient. What about the others?
Is Janet Reid writing a book? Is Rachel Gardner? Who else out there?

Anonymous said...

Blagent commentards are crazy and desperate. In their cover letters they include their handles and a list of all the blagent blogs they comment on. In their dreams they fantasize about blagents parsing their comments as meticulously as some commenters here parse form rejections. They believe that e-flattery will get them everywhere.

I know this for a fact, because I interned for a non-blogging agent and read queries from people who identified themselves as blagent commenters. Hey I commented on your colleague's blog so that makes us blood brothers 4 life. omg wtf.

SKIZO said...

WOW:
Good creations.

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is necessarily the place to lay into people who are trying to find an agent. Though as a rule of thumb I'd suggest not approaching any blagent: they're too desperately chasing the 'market', frantically second-guessing phantoms all the time. In fact, it seems best to avoid any agent who talks too much, either on their website or on their blog. If the submissions instructions are longer than 25 words, I'd say avoid, avoid, avoid.

Lt. Cccyxx said...

Eh. I read those blogs, usually don't comment, usually don't read the other comments unless I do (and have never queried any of those agents). In my opinion, those agents provide a valuable service in helping wanna-be authors like me get a clue. If some wanna-be authors act kind of desperate in the comments, it's probably because they are. I highly doubt it gets them anywhere so ultimately it's harmless.

Writer, Rejected said...

Dude is not my best friend, though I did read her memoir on my Kindle, FOOD & LOATHING. It had an impact, I must say, and I had her in mind as more a writer than an agent. Anyway, I wrote to tell her what I thought of the book and to thank her for sending a hard copy to me, which was pretty nice and totally unnecessary, and to chat kind of writer to writer about whatever...shooting the shit, blogger to blogger, or whatever. But she being an agent first and foremost did what agents always do to me (no, at least she didn't quit the business like the last two): she didn't write back. This cracks me up. It seems I always have to be in the same position with an agent, even when they are not my agent. I want to be friendly; they want to be not anything. Funny. When will I learn?

heynonnynonymous said...

Sounds like you had your own experience with flattering of an agent for nought. No wonder it makes you sad.

Writer, Rejected said...

Ha! Touché, Heynonny! What a predictable ass I am...

Chazz said...

Blagent is a good word. I call those forums The Land of Nod. Even when agents are needlessly mean, there is a whole lot of wanton adulation and furious nodding going on. It's great to agree. Be a fan, even. But sometimes there's slobber.

NB once complained that there was sometimes too much negativity toward some of his opinions. "Really?" I said. "How much love can one man stand? It's a lovefest almost 24/7/365 and twice on Sundays over there."

Anonymous said...

I don't think this is necessarily the place to lay into people who are trying to find an agent.

I don't think anyone is disparaging anyone else merely for trying to find an agent. We're just making fun of people who try to do it through blattery. These people should be made fun of somewhere, lord knows the receiving blagents aren't going to deliver reality checks on their blogs.

(heaven help me, my word verification is aborshick.)

Nathan Bransford said...

Hey - honestly want to applaud your efforts to remind people that excessive praise is not a route to agentdom or publication. Not only is it creepy, it's a really bad strategy. Professionalism wins.

As anyone who has a blog knows, you only have so much control over the comment section, and I'd hesitate to judge someone based on what their comments section is saying. People have different agendas than the blogger. Luckily for those who think blagents walk through tulips every morning, I am reminded every day of my weaknesses and limitations. It's a tough business and we're all doing the best we can.

i wear tan pants only on sundays said...

The little one on the left is mad because the big one on the right is touching his butt again, but the big on never calls the next day. Is this an analogy for agents? If only we knew what was happening on the far left, then everything would be revealed and no one would get rejected again.