Monday, May 4, 2009

And another thing - and this time I'm REALLY annoyed

In amongst the emails from people saying 'yes, please' to the idea of sending in their query letters was a chap who said that, despite realising that sending in an undercooked manuscript was not a good thing, there wasn't much choice when every agent took the 'luxury' of at least two months with a manuscript.


Breathe, breathe ...

Reading submissions is the extra part of our job that usually gets done in our own time. It can be different for US agents as they can have interns, but we're not allowed to use interns in this country - it breaks all sorts of laws. If I had unpaid or lowly paid minions I could get through a whole lot more reading, but I just can't. So it's not a luxury - it's the minimum amount of time we can manage it.

Tonight, for example, I have to read one of my client's manuscripts because it's past deadline but he still wants feedback. On the weekend I read another client's new manuscript so she could have feedback before it goes to her publisher. And you want me to give you less than two months for your submission? Why don't you ask my clients - the ones who pay for my time so that I'm able to even consider reading submissions - to stop writing new books? Maybe THEN I would have the time. But then there would be no money, so the business would fold. You see the conundrum?

The business model for agenting in this country is tight and, if the Productivity Commission has its way, it will get tighter. As I've said before, we do the best we can. We want to read submissions and we usually do it as fast as we're able. We do not have a vendetta against unpublished writers - there is no agent cabal, where we sit around cackling, 'Aha! Let's make them wait two months!' Sheesh.


Katherine said...

I'm really sorry to hear you get e-mails like that, especially when they are targeting an agent who gives up their own personal time to give writers advice and feedback through this blog. I hope you know that person's views do not represent the majority. We really appreciate what you do, as I'm sure do your clients (who deserve the majority of your time and attention). Keep up the great work!

Katherine Battersby

graywave said...

This Productivity Commission thing is a shocker. I've sent them a submission and blogged about it, and there was a small demo outside Dymocks in Brisbane recently, but apart from that kind of mild protest, it seems to be in the lap of the gods.

Of course, my perspective is as an as-yet-unpublished author, watching with horror as the prospect diminishes all the time. But, of course, the proposed changes would damage the whole industry from top to bottom. Could the government really be so careless of one of its few cultural assets?