Monday, March 07, 2011

No Fighting, No Biting

In case you have been snoozing in a sunny hammock for a week (in which case, may I say a hearty grrr to you), you've probably noticed rumblings about the supposed "YA Mafia." I am totally not going to get into it here, as it has been pretty well discussed and dissected by everyone everywhere, and the topic is done as far as I'm concerned.  YA Highway has a great roundup in case you missed any of the kerfuffle and are still interested.

One sort of side-tangent that has been mentioned by a few folks is the rumor that AN AGENT WON'T TAKE YOU ON IF YOU PUBLICLY HATE THEIR CLIENTS WORK.  Am I missing something? This doesn't seem like a threat, it seems like a very obvious and non-scandalous fact to me.

But the reaction I'm reading seems to be that such agents are obviously short-sighted, crazy, "in the pay of the YA Mafia", idiots, etc etc. 


I'm extremely passionate about any book I rep. I LOVE IT.

Besides the author themselves, I was probably the first person to be a total champion for the book. I've read it many times, sometimes over the course of years. I might have helped edit it, or at least thought about it hard, possibly through multiple drafts. In some way, maybe a big way or maybe a small, I helped that book be what it is. I am quite proud of them; each book really means a great deal to me.

If you love my books too, we might have very similar taste. The chances are good that if you are an excellent writer, with taste similar to mine, we might be a very good fit.

If you love some but are ambivalent about others, or like a couple but are "meh" about some, or even thought some were fine but privately disliked a couple, hey, that's cool, not everyone can like everything, everyone has their own opinion, that's what makes the world go round. (Well that and like, science.)

But if you totally hate a book of mine, like seriously detest, and have gone out of your way to slam it publicly...why would you even want me as an agent?

Your agent is your partner, hopefully for many years and through many successes (and yes, often failures as well.) You will be talking to them quite a lot. You have to be able to trust that they understand and "get you."

Your agent also needs to trust that his or her clients are relatively stable, happy, and not going to turn on each other or start getting into online (or real life!) monkey knife fights with one another. Drama creates a hostile work environment for all and can escalate to toxic levels quickly, which results in a loss of productivity, which results in a loss of money. Feh. Not for me, thanks. I would rather have fun, sell lots of books, and make money.  Wouldn't you?

You will also more than likely be in situations where you are in a group of your fellow-clients, out at a dinner, at a conference, or a school visit, or on a retreat. These are your colleagues, again, hopefully for many years. If you totally hate their work... ugh, awkward!  Why would you possibly want to knit your future together with people you hold in contempt?

Basically, if you loathe the books I represent, we clearly have very different taste. That isn't bad or good -- it's just a fact. Pick an agent who seems to like the same kind of stuff you do. Obvious, right?

*ETA: I am not suggesting that people should not blog, or be honest, or censor themselves, or anything of the kind.  I have book bloggers as clients.  Go forth and blog!  I am just saying, you put out into the world what you want to get back.  You can't say you HATE something, but then turn around and want to be just like that thing. 

Like, I like gold, and I like lemon yellow, and I like orange, but I hate certain shades of the color yellow (to wit: Goldenrod). Seriously. Worst. Color. Ever. I've said it on my blog, and I will say it to anyone who asks. I'd say it to Yellow's face. I am not allowed to be surprised if Yellow doesn't hire me as its spokesperson.