The nameless, the faceless.
The people who are rejected, day in and day out. The ones who come close. The ones who get the form rejections.
The people who have their hearts crushed and their dreams burned.
The people who are angry.
The people who are hurt.
The people who are bitter.
One of the reasons I didn't like #agentfail was because I felt that there was so much hatred being spewed out. I felt that if you had a complaint about an agent, you shouldn't have to hide behind anonymity. That you should be able to own up to your own words, which is an offshoot of my general internet philosophy. Don't write something, if you're unwilling to attach your name to it.
I understand anger. I understand hurt. I know all too well the feeling of having your hopes and dreams being crushed out of you. Hello, I applied to Clarion West this year, and missed the freaking waitlist by one spot. Out of hundreds of people, I was #21. Don't tell me that doesn't sting. It does.
And it stings when you get rejected by an agent.
It stings when an agent behaves badly. It stings when they don't answer your e-mail. It stings when it takes them months or years to reply to partials (I am guilty of this). It stings when they never reply.
And it stings because you feel that you cannot attach your name to it, since we live in a public Internet and a public society. You feel that you can't say, "Agent X was a bitch. She never got back to me." or "Agent Y, what an asshole, he read half my book and never finished it."
And the sad truth, is that you shouldn't say those things in public. Agents shouldn't talk about writers except vaguely, and writers shouldn't talk about agents except vaguely. This is part of the careful dance we do in publishing, where we try not to step on other people's toes. It's a small industry, and the internet just makes it a hell of a lot smaller.
To Agent X or Agent Y, you are not a person. You are a nameless, faceless writer. You feel that you have no recourse. That you have tried so hard, and there is nothing left. That they don't care about you.
I cannot change the behavior of my fellow agents. I cannot change the behavior of my fellow writers. I fall firmly into both camps.
But I can change my own behavior as an agent, which is one of the reasons I hired Jodi so many months ago. I had a problem with giving fast feedback, and I wanted to change that. Jodi offered me that opportunity. I am forever grateful for that.
The problem is that we all care too much about what we do. Agents care about the books they represent, and writers care about the books they write. Rejection is not personal, but it often comes across as that, especially when people don't get back to you. The very hard thing is detaching yourself from your book, and the thing that you care about so much.
There is no easy solution to this.
There will never be any easy solution to the anger and hurt that writers feel, and the way that makes agents feel. There will never be an easy solution to agents seeing writers as the nameless, the faceless.
But I think we are slowly getting to a point of equilibrium, where writers are able to connect with agents. I love Twitter because I get to talk to so many writers on a daily basis, people around the globe that I would never speak to. I love this blog because so many of you comment on my posts. I love talking to people, and this is an often isolating job. I think that by connecting with agents on a personal level, even if you like cats, or I think you have a great recipe blog... that we are slowly starting to overcome this divide.
That writers are starting to be less nameless and less faceless.
And agents are becoming the same to writers.
My lovely assistant, Jodi Meadows, has written a post about this too: Jodi's post