Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

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Kenner R. McQuaid
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Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 17th, 2010, 11:05 am

I read this blog almost every day, and one thing that Mr. Bransford posted today really caught my eye:

"Speaking of social networking, How Publishing Really Works responded with quite justified irritation and umbrage at a recent interview that was dismissive of the time some agents spend blogging. This is something I will be blogging about in full force, but the idea that agents who blog are somehow less serious or less hardworking than the ones that don't is an idea that was past its time in 2007, let alone 2010. Look around. Every company in the world, big and small, is now trying to figure out how they can utilize social media. Why not agents?"

Quite frankly- and I know I'm biting the hand that feeds- I think many agent's use of social media is terrible and paints them in a bad light. By coincidence, I blogged about it myself yesterday. I won't copy & paste here because I actually read the Terms of Service and there's some salty language in my post.

http://kennermcquaid.blogspot.com/2010/ ... it-of.html

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by J. T. SHEA » December 17th, 2010, 11:19 pm

Sorry Kenner, but your comments sound a lot more obnoxious than the agent Tweets you quote. To make matters worse, I LOVE the STAR WARS prequels...

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 18th, 2010, 10:25 am

To each his own :)

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Nathan Bransford » December 18th, 2010, 1:57 pm

I'll discuss this more in the post I devote to it, but even if you don't like an agent who is on social media.... isn't that kind of the point of social media? You get to preview an agent's working style and see whether you think you'd work well or not well with that person?

I'm not trying to say that all use of social media is good. Just that it's a really great tool for agents to reach prospective clients and potential readers of their clients' books.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 18th, 2010, 6:17 pm

I happen to agree, Nathan. But as a first-time author, it hits you like a ton of bricks when you realize that this already difficult process of finding an agent is going to made even more difficult by some of the personalities present in the profession. I may come off as obnoxious myself, but in real life I'm a very laid-back, professional guy.

It doesn't help when my manuscript is in a netherworld between more serious writing but with an element of fratire present simply because I also write about the trials and tribulations of my own age group (thirites, single, urban-oriented). In fact, I found a link from your blog, I believe, in which a prominent agent said that:

"Don't submit a query for your self-indulgent, no-one-gives-a-shit memoir unless you can write like Philip Roth, you are a celebrity, or you have an exceptional story to tell. Having a mental illness, recovering from an addiction, having a dysfunctional family, living a mildly interesting life are not exceptional."

I've written a semi-autobiographical 'no-one-gives-a-shit memoir' concerning my struggles with mental illness while in law school but with several other themes: the burden of the stereotype that all lawyers are arrogant but successful moneymakers counting $100 bills while I'm actually broke as a joke, the fallout of trying to relate to much more successful people in my age group given this disaster, as well as the culture of mistrust created by social media among thirty-something singles. It's also a love story, like The Bridges of Madison County moved forward to 2009 in the godless, fast-paced Northeast U.S.

But when I read what prominent agents have to say, I realized I made a big mistake regarding the current demands of the market vis-a-vis my own manuscript. To say the least, it's very frustrating and I'm losing hope.

And I know I can write. Countless federal and state court judges have told me so. In those cases, however, I was representing a client and not trying to market product like a manuscript. It's two different balls of wax, and I'm learning the hard way.

The summary is here for anybody interested in reading:

http://kennermcquaid.blogspot.com/2010/ ... -self.html

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Guardian » December 18th, 2010, 8:53 pm

Kenner R. McQuaid wrote: "Don't submit a query for your self-indulgent, no-one-gives-a-shit memoir unless you can write like Philip Roth, you are a celebrity, or you have an exceptional story to tell. Having a mental illness, recovering from an addiction, having a dysfunctional family, living a mildly interesting life are not exceptional."
Actually agents shouldn't decide and tell writers what readers want and don't want to read as they're not readers, nor the general audience. They actually never did a poll regarding this matter, but every agent is trying to tell to writers what they should write, because they, the agents know what the reader wants (As we saw in the past, that's not really covering the truth, otherwise every writer and agent, would be a billionaire.). Of course, they've the right to say this, based on their own experience, but deciding and telling what the readers want to read in general and telling this to writers, as if it would be the universal truth... well, it's pompous.

Sometimes agents used to forget that we're the writers and we're working for our audience, not for the agents and their personal taste. We're writing our stories, because we want to tell a story and share it with the people. But this quote sounds like... "You won't tell your story, because we're going to decide: you can tell it or not.".
Last edited by Guardian on December 19th, 2010, 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by daisiem » December 18th, 2010, 9:16 pm

I'm very grateful for the blogs. They have been helpful in understanding the whole publishing process. The first agent's blog that I found was Query Shark. I shudder to think how hideous my first query would have been without her advise. Also, I go looking to see if an agent has a blog before I query them. There have been several agents that I have considered querying, and after reading their blogs, realized that my manuscript wouldn't have fit their interests. The little blurbs on the agent's websites just don't give enough information most of the time.

I have also found agents that I felt were more suited for my manuscript. By reading their blogs, I felt more inspired to personalize the query more towards their interests. Besides, it is interesting hearing about the publishing industry. It is a different world from the life of a piano teacher.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Guardian » December 18th, 2010, 9:23 pm

daisiem wrote:I'm very grateful for the blogs. The first agent's blog that I found was Query Shark.
Yep. Janet's blog is one of the bests. Her blog is my other favorite, beside Nathan's blog. Janet and Nathan's blogs are like gold. They're always giving really good advices and they're also good people.
Also, I go looking to see if an agent has a blog before I query them.
Unfortunately very few agents have a blog.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 19th, 2010, 10:23 am

Guardian,

I agree with you. The problem is that agents are in the business, first and foremost, to make money. And, in this guy's opinion, these stories don't make money. Most of my rejections have mentioned 'lack of a market' or 'we don't feel your work is marketable at this time.' No one has ever had criticism of the actual writing, although I think most of my rejections have been form rejections anyway.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 10:32 am

Most of my rejections have mentioned 'lack of a market' or 'we don't feel your work is marketable at this time.'
Ah, this is my favorite. First of all, stories are shaping the market. The market never should shape the stories (This is the primary reason of the so many copycats.).

Example: Before Harry Potter, officially no one in the market was interested in these sort of stories... at least that's what agents said. But Christopher Little dared to make a difference and won. Or another example: many professional is saying, they're not writing sci-fi, because people don't want to see new science fiction stories. Well, personally I know sixty or more whose would gladly read one (And those guys are not the only one on this planet. Those guys are just my friends.). The agents' job is to SELL our work as we're giving them the job, the assignment to sell our work. Our job is to make this work to the best as it's also essential. But who is saying, sorry there is no market for it, that's usually equal with... sorry, I don't have the skill to sell your work or any other work in this genre. A good agent is capable to sell anything. A good publisher is capable to make gold from any good material (I'm saying this after few years of marketing experience, as a former marketing manager.).

Another example... when some agents' are asking you, the writer, via an online form... is there a place where you can advertise your novel? Now, here I used to drop the agent immediately. Why? Because if I want to make the marketing campaign for my very own novel, I already make a self-publishing along with it. And if I, the writer, should meditate on the advertisement and the marketing when I have an agent and a publisher... well, that's a bad sign.
Last edited by Guardian on December 27th, 2010, 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 19th, 2010, 1:25 pm

This is where the internet may have hurt writers. I've read several agent bios that say something to the effect of, 'Agent X is particularly interested in representing authors who have established a significant web presence through a blog or social media.'

In other words, your product is of much more interest if we can tell the publisher that you can market it yourself.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 3:31 pm

Kenner R. McQuaid wrote:In other words, your product is of much more interest if we can tell the publisher that you can market it yourself.
Yeah. But in this case I have one question: why do we need an agent and a publisher? Advertising and marketing would be their job, not ours. As I written before, if we must advertise and make the marketing rounds for our work, it's better if we're making self-publishing. Right now, what you've written is sounds like as great laziness, instead of doing some hard work. The writer is doing the writing, which is already hard, and now the writer should do the marketing too... so actually almost everything what is requiring to release a novel (With the exception of printing.). Well, as I see this industry is starting to be filled with lazy people, whose are intending to watch as the writer is doing the hard job, then these guys would get some percentage... for why exactly? For nothing, because from A to Z, the writer would do almost everything. Well, you don't have to be a genius to see, something is definitely wrong with the present liteary system.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » December 19th, 2010, 7:00 pm

I clicked on your links...really impressive.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Guardian » December 19th, 2010, 7:21 pm

Thanks. I'm glad you like them.

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Re: Nathan's Blog Post on Agents and Social Media

Post by Kenner R. McQuaid » January 3rd, 2011, 8:33 pm

My New Year's resolution is to stop following 90% of the agents I follow on twitter. Today's tweets were mainly geared toward displeasure with getting back to work, picking apart people who resolved to 'get' an agent this year (we shouldn't assume that we'll get one; we should resolve to make a better effort) and sarcastically apologizing in advance for rejections while wishing everyone a happy new year.

If other professionals acted like this, they'd be sunk. If doctors, lawyers, and engineers tweeted about being less than thrilled about being back to work after the holiday (which everyone on earth is), they might as well turn in their licenses.

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