So I'm watching football yesterday, until my husband decides all of his teams righteously suck and he turns the channel to 60 minutes, the TV show. They're doing a segment on sports agent, Drew Rosenhaus, and for the next half-hour I sat glued to my flat screen ready to crawl out of my skin. If you don't know Drew Rosenhaus, he's the sports agent Tom Cruise imitated in the movie, Jerry Maguire.
People either love Drew Rosenhaus or hate him. He's a shark, there's no doubt. Lance Briggs with the Chicago Sun-Times says, "He's a guy that gets it done, guys go to him because he's a shark. He's going to go in there and take care of business. He's not going to leave anything on the table. He allows a player to see his value more so than most."
I'm like ... YEAH! Isn't that what an agent is supposed to do????
Okay, I get it. The world of professional sports is not quite the same as the publishing industry. I get it. But my God, c'mon! To have a literary agent muster even 2% of that guy's presence, it just might turn the big dogs on Mahogany Row up there in Fat City on their ears.
Strong words for a writer like me, I guess. But maybe if the rest of the world's writers would quit trying to suck up to every literary agent who attends a writing conference, quit bending over and taking whatever they get, quit believing everything they read on the Internet, quit pussyfooting around and try to change things in this industry, maybe then ... just maybe more of us would get published. Even make a living at it.
They tell us writers can't get published without agents. Seems to me, without writers--nobody in this industry has got a job. It takes all of us working together and finding answers to the problems plaguing us.
Technology has only made a dent in publishing--as far as writers are concerned. Things need to change. Writers need better access to agents who will fight for them. I realize we still need to separate the sheep from the goats when it comes to good and bad writing, but for the purpose of this blog, let's assume I'm talking about writers worth their salt. We all need to be on an equal playing field.
A writer's world today is definitely different than even a decade ago. It's evolving, but it's still way behind when it comes to Agents/Editors/Publishers and what's happening on the rest of the planet. I know these days most agents/editors are reading manuscripts on their I-phones or I-pads, but they're still sifting through thousands of slush piles. How do you change that? In the end, doesn't it all boil down to money?
You can bet Rosenhaus gets a nice chunk of change for what he does. Do literary agents get paid enough for what they do? If they did more on behalf of the writer, couldn't they negotiate a bigger piece of the pie? Editors, I hear, change jobs like they change their underwear. About every day. The cost of printing, marketing, and publicity costs a few bucks. Publishers divide their publicity money according to the ever-present popularity contest going on between writers. So how do we change it for everybody, how do we make it better for writers, as well as the rest of book-reading world?
All I know is that until we start, until we get fed up with the way things are done, we writers are going to be sitting on manuscripts that should've been published years ago while the folks resting on their laurels are putting out book number 34. Those bestselling writers we all know so well, those big names everyone recognizes will continue to publish because their editors, their publishing houses know some housewife in Barnes & Nobles or Sam's Club is going to buy it. She's going to buy it because she only has so much money to spend on books and she'd rather risk her 30 bucks on a mediocre story than on some writer she's never read. And until she reads a great review on a debut novelist, or hears it from a trusted friend, she'll stick with the tried and true.
I know my best friend, Tina, who reads three new books a week and belongs to a large book club is just starting to understand my frustration. Traveling this road with me, hearing what I go through on a weekly basis, she refuses to read anything but debut novels, at least until the next Diana Gabaldon comes out. So I think there is one way to change things. Writers need to infiltrate book clubs. Let the readers know what's going on and what it really takes to get published. Create some empathy on behalf of the writers who give them the books they love to read. Encourage readers to read debut novels. In the end, some won't care a hoot. But some will. It's a start. It's something.
So there you have my rant for the week. I don't even pretend to have all the answers. Not even a little bit. And if I had money to put where my mouth is, you can bet I'd do more than just rant on my blog. But I do know that until a little bit of Drew Rosenhaus rubs off on this industry, writers are still going to bend over and take whatever they can get.
And that's just plain wrong.
Blessings to you writers out there, today. Blessings to you and yours.