Writers: Cut Out the Middle Man!

London - Buckingham Palace guard

London – Buckingham Palace guard

I came across this article by Chuck Sambuchino, “The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents.”

With all due respect to all of the contributors of the article, I must call a time out.

Since when did these agents’ opinions become the standard by which books are written? Who set them up to be the gods of the publishing industry who grants and denies access into one of the most coveted industries in the creative arts? And who, among you struggling writers, is still bowing down to these agents’ decrees?

Think about it. Hollywood, though far from perfect, produces a large handful of blockbuster hits a year. Though it’s not as often as we might prefer, but time after time audiences are introduced to breakout directors, actors, and other big screen talents.

Why, then, have we only been given one J.K. Rowling in the last twenty years? One Suzanne Collins? And yet, James Patterson (whose name is bigger than his skill) is still raking in millions.

Literary-Agents-Today-WEBIt’s these gatekeepers, these literary agents, who are locking the gates to the rest of you. You hang on their every word and piece of advice because they’ve convinced you that it’s by their opinions alone your writing career lives or dies.

In the article above, Cricket Freeman from The August Agency demands writers to not kill the main character off in the first chapter. Yet, I’m reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, where that very thing occurs, and I’m loving it. One of the main character’s death at the end of chapter one propelled me to keep reading.

Laurie McLean from Forward Literary tells writers, “Damn the prologue, full speed ahead.”

Sometimes prologues are necessary. Especially to people whose tastes fall into slower-paced books.

Read the the tips and advice from these agents in the article and for almost each one you’ll find your favorite books break their exact rules.

Writers, it’s time to stop feeding the beast! If you’re a struggling author, you’ve no doubt spent countless hours trying to appease these self-proclaimed gatekeepers only to be rejected again and again and again – with no reason provided whatsoever!

Have you ever considered that their job is to deny your manuscripts, to keep the slush piles from reaching the desk of an actual publisher?

Think I’m crazy? Imagine if Brad Bird had written a query letter to a literary agent:

My book idea is about a sewer rat who dreams of being a cook in one of the finest restaurants in 1e20db52948b7d5b340921e8aa2e6126France. He’s a dirty, filthy vermin who convinces a garbage boy to act as his doppelgänger to cook the restaurant’s greatest dishes.

He’d be rejected five times to the moon and back and probably blocked from a majority of their emails.

I can go on, but I hope you get my point. That’s why you must cut out the middle man, because (with minuscule exceptions) a literary agent DOES NOT and WILL NOT take a chance on you! Why? Because you’re not James Patterson or his cousin. You don’t have a million and a half followers on you blog. You’re a nobody and literary agents couldn’t care less if you have the best idea in the world. They’re looking at names and reputations and resumes.

They’re not looking for ideas because ideas are risks. 

That’s why at Endever Publishing Studios, we put emphasis on ideas. We don’t leave you waiting for seven, eight, or nine weeks before getting back to you concerning your submission (while requesting you don’t query any other agents or publishers). We don’t look for perfection, because we know that it takes time and work to turn any idea into something wonderful and beautiful and, dare I say it, successful.

After all, that’s what we all really want in the end, right? Success?

Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 6.48.43 AM

Think twice before sending out your eightieth or one-hundred-eightieth query letter to a literary agent. Don’t take their word as the gospel truth. If you feel like readers don’t see enough breakout authors in the industry, think about whose fault that is. Think about all the amazing books and stories we’re missing out on because these agents gave themselves the power to deem what readers should and should not read.

Take a look at my company’s submission guidelines and see if we might be a good fit for you. Yes, I realize our acceptance and denials are subjective as well, but we pride ourselves on our ability to limit that subjectiveness by looking at all submissions with an open mind.

We don’t ask ourselves what we like to read. Instead, we ask ourselves, could this idea contribute positively to the book industry? And if so, let’s make it better!

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About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

14 Responses to Writers: Cut Out the Middle Man!

  1. J says:

    Completely agree with you. Agents seem far more interested in selling you than your book. Why do they ask for so many personal details when you send in a manuscript, surely it’s the book they should be interested in, not you.

  2. You sum up what I have felt for awhile and highlight the creative decline if not dearth present in the best sellers and top grossing movies.
    For instance, The Girl on the Train was clearly hand picked to be the publishers darling. On what merit? I read it, and near every thing an agent says they are looking for in the bloated story are absent.
    Just one example. Maybe it has always been about name, and marketability, but it seems like the public doesnt decide who sells books based on creative merit and originality, the publishers feed us what they perceive as the right books.
    Something has to change.

  3. rtimmorris says:

    Mostly agreed, but literary agents do still serve a role in it all. Still, I applaud Endever’s couldn’t be happier to take a chance on them with my own book. If we’re not all working together we won’t create a better publishing world.

  4. Pingback: The Infamous Three-Word Question | adoptingjames

  5. Pingback: Wednesday Writers’ Cafe: rebel or rule-lover? – Brewhaha Book Cafe

  6. Anne Skyvington says:

    Hi Andrew
    It’s been great following your posts. Thanks so much for following mine.

    My website has moved and I’d love to keep you as a reader.
    Could you subscribe to my new mailing list at the following link:

    http://eepurl.com/cNIEP5

    Hope to stay in touch,
    Anne Skyvington

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