Now the Good Stuff

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 19 2008

Thank you everyone who participated in my venting blog post. It was fascinating, disheartening, frustrating, and just sad to read what many of you had to say. And it’s given me a lot of material to write for future posts. Points to address, topics to discuss, and hopefully inspiration to dole out.

I’ve also learned a lot about what frustrates you and I think I would be lying to you and to myself if I said that everything you complained about was what other agents had done and not me. I suspect there were more than a couple in there that fit me. The difficulty of listening to anyone vent—whether it’s you listening to agents or me listening to you—is that none of us are perfect, and when listening to a rant we feel that we should be. I don’t think any of us expects perfection from the other. Sure we preach it because it’s easier to say we want things perfect than that we want things nearly perfect (since the definition of perfect differs from person to person), but in truth I think what we can all agree that we really want is respect, consideration, and professionalism. Unfortunately we don’t always get it. We don’t always get it in publishing, at the doctor’s office, the grocery store, or even our own homes.

However, when all is said and done, I do know that 99% of you work really hard at what you’re doing and your query letters do show that. They are professional and submitted carefully. I hope you know that I too work very hard at professionalism, but because I’m not perfect there are times when things slip through the cracks.

Okay. Now that I’ve let you rant and you’ve listened to my rants on a daily basis, I’d like to cheer us all up a bit and spend some time looking at the good things. The things that make us smile in this business and remind us why we keep plugging away at it. Because while I might complain about the unprofessional query letter or the author who calls just to yell at me after receiving a rejection, the truth is that I really, really love what I do and to love what I do I have to love authors.

So I’m going to start. I’m going to start by sharing some of my favorite things about this business.

I love this blog. I love that it’s become a community unto itself, and one of my favorite things is when the comment boards take on a life of their own. I love meeting my readers at conferences and I love that you are all so willing to honestly share your thoughts and feelings with me (even when I might not want to hear it).

I love going to conferences and interacting with authors. One of my all-time favorite stories was during the Reno RWA conference in 2005. I was sitting in the coffee shop when another author came up to me and asked if I had talked to, we’ll call her Mary Author. Mary had been looking for me because, on the advice of one of my rejection letters, she had sent her book to Harlequin and sold her first novel. It still gives me chills telling that story. I love success and I love to see any author have success—by the way, two years later Mary did officially become a client.

I love receiving queries and submissions. Because let’s face it, they are the lifeblood of this office, and the minute they stop coming in is the minute I need to really start worrying. On a selfish level, your queries boost my confidence. They remind me of how far I’ve come (from those days when we first opened and ten submissions a week was a big deal) and how many wonderful books there are yet to take on. Sometimes the submissions become overwhelming, when I’ve been too busy to really sit down and give them the attention they deserve, but when I’m in the mood to take on a new client, and have the time to do so, there are few things more fun than sitting with a pile of possibilities (submissions) and a hot cup of cocoa.

There is only one “call” in this business and that’s “the call” when your book has sold. However, for an agent there are two calls (which is why it’s more fun to be an agent). I get to make that call to offer representation, that breathless, nerve-wracking call (breathless and nerve-wracking for me, by the way). What if you say no? What if you say yes?

And then there’s “the call” when I get to tell any author, first time or otherwise, that I’ve sold their book. Please, feel free to scream, holler, and rejoice in excitement. I LOVE it.

I have another story that makes me smile and it just happened. I was queried by an author who had an offer from a publisher in hand. We had met a couple of years prior and I knew she was a reader of the blog. While I had rejected her book before, I was happy to take a second look. I did and I still really liked her writing, but I just wasn’t in love with it, and as much as I liked her and wanted to work with her and wanted to love it, it’s not fair to her to have an agent who doesn’t feel breathless with excitement. I turned it down. She was extremely disappointed and asked a second time if I was sure. I explained that I thought she deserved better. Well, the next day she emailed again to say she had found that agent who was breathless with excitement and now she knew what I meant. I was thrilled for her.

Beyond all of that, though, I just love that on a daily basis I get to make books happen. One of my best friends is a fan of a client of mine. She came to this client’s books on her own and reads them the minute they hit the shelves. It’s really, really cool to know that I’m a part of making those books happen and that when I walk into her house I see them on her bookshelves.

So now it’s your turn. Tell us the good of this business, the stories about agents, editors, and publishing that make you smile or give you a warm fuzzy feeling. Because I think right now we could all use a smile.


56 responses to “Now the Good Stuff”

  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    The good:
    Agents who put themselves out there via blogs 🙂 and conferences and share their knowledge and inside information.

    Published authors who share their knowledge and experiences.

    The community of writers out there who support and encourage each other.

    The whole crazy process that begins with the insatiable passion to write a book!

  2. What I love most is when I see people who take the success they’ve created and use it to benefit others.

    People like Brenda Novak, currently running her fourth annual auction to raise money for juvenile diabetes research.

    Or the best-selling authors who sponsor a deserving someone at RWA National each year.

    Or people like Vicki Hinze, who gives so much back to new writers.

    And then there are the folks who lend their names & talent to anthologies that support causes dear to their hearts.

    These are the stories that always bring a lump to my throat: the folks who understand that in the long run, it’s not the success that matters – it’s how you use it to help others.

  3. I’ve been through a variety of careers, and I have never found a group as supportive and encouraging as the writers’ community. No backstabbing, no catty remarks at conferences–just sincere god wishes, because we all know how difficult this business is.

    And I still have “the call” saved on my cell phone–almost two years later.

  4. Avatar Just_Me says:

    I love……
    – That there is advice. When I finished typing my first manuscript I had no idea what to do next. No reading group, no clue what a literary agent was, all I had was a rough draft. I found Miss Snark, and then Critique Circle, and then agent blogs- thank goodness!

    – I love when I can pre-submit a query to agent blogs or reading groups to have it shredded. It’s the only way I can learn.

    – I love that I’m not the only writer out there trying so hard to get my act together and my foot in the door.

    – I love my agent blogs that I visit daily: Bookends, Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Pub Rants, Redlines and Deadline, Et in arcadia ego, the swivet, Lit Soup, Johnathan Lyons …. it keeps me sane and on track with what’s going on in the world outside my own door.

    – I love writing! I love spending time with my characters. I love exploring new worlds. I love creating tricky problems and impossible goals.

    – I love my critique group for their support and for helping me turn a rough draft into something a lot more solid. Another draft or two and maybe I’ll be ready to query. ;o)

  5. Avatar Kimber An says:

    Thank you for this post.

    A little respect and appreciation goes a long way.

    You don’t represent what I’m working on or will be working on, so I won’t have anything to submit to Bookends. However, if I did, I would.

  6. Avatar beverley says:

    I love to write!!! Love getting a new story idea that really excites me. I love getting the request from either an agent or an editor. I have so much hope at that point. I REALLY love getting the request for the full after they’ve read the partial. I’m thinking, I’m soooo close. I love my chapter. These women are great and encouraging and funny. I love it when I hear someone got an agent or sold a book in my genre cause I’m really thinking there’s hope for me yet.

    I love meeting new people at the conferences and I love to volunteer. I love chatting with editors and agents and going to some of those workshops.

    Need I go on. I love writing, even with all its rejections and setbacks. I wouldn’t, couldn’t work on anything else this hard without getting paid. (Well except raising my son and trying my damndest to be the best mom… but you all know what I mean).

  7. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    I love the community of writers, agents and editors, the people who love writing and books as much as I do. Writing is such a solitary profession, but because of the amazing generosity of this community, we’re never truly alone. Even before the Internet added instant communication, I knew my fellow writers were there for me, either by phone or the USPS. We are a different sort, those of us who write, so it’s wonderful to have the chance to connect either online or in person. Who else understands the voices in your head, or imaginary characters every bit as real as your firstborn child?

  8. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Wow, only 7 “good things” so far, and 118 vents?! Sad, people, sad. I know it’s easier to complain sometimes, but lets step up to the plate. Spread a little sunshine in the blog world. Maybe inspire somebody.

    Anyway, what I like about my toe-dipping into the (non-fiction) publising world is that it:

    A) got me a sweet little advance that paid a few bills

    B) gave me a additional platform in my actual profession — I can now say/include the published book in my credentials and claim even greater “expertise in my field” when dealing with the competition.

    Thanks Bookends for getting my book published, getting me a few bucks, and for an interesting blog.

    Peace out.

  9. Avatar Bella Andre says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE the women who make this romance novel business happen! Everyone from my friends and critique partners and brainstorming friends to my lovely agent (waving to Jessica) to my wonderful, insightful editors, to the readers who pick up our books and devour them just like I’ve always devoured romance since I was a teenage girl with glasses and braces and big dreams! 😉

    I love it all! And I swear I have the best job in the world!

    😉 Bella

  10. Avatar Vivi Anna says:

    I love getting a new idea for a story.

    I love writing that story.

    I love the close friends for life that I’ve made since being in this business.

    I love when my editor tells me she’s digging my book.

    I love getting edits and having a second chance at making the book shine.

    I love seeing my cover for the first time. Gives me shivers every time.

    I love getting reviews and reader emails.

    I love going to conferences and meeting other authors and readers face to face.

    I love being president of my RWA chapter and being able to give back to the community.

    If you don’t love this industry, then I say what the hell are you doing in it???

  11. Avatar Gail says:

    LOVE the first royalty check. It came with a comma in the dollar figure. All the numbers were greater than one. That was a gasping-for-air moment. (e-publishing moment)

    LOVE the shock of getting fan mail. I’d never thought of that before.

    LOVE being asked for a full manuscript after first ever pitch to NY House Editor.

    LOVE being ask for a partial by BookEnds- hope to love the response on it.

    LOVE making a living in jammies. Writer’s uniform.

  12. Avatar Carrie Ryan says:

    I love that everyone in the community is so willing to share and help and be there for each other. I love the feeling that, to a certain degree, we’re all in this together.

  13. Avatar Robena Grant says:

    I love how the minute I hit rock bottom, and think I’ll never be a successful writer, I start scrabbling back up.

    The minute I get proactive something or someone comes along and pushes me in a new direction. Synchronicity? Serendipity? I’m not sure what it is but it always happens.

    An agent or editor or author will give back and help me along the way. They always seem to provide one more of the building blocks of craft that make my storytelling stronger. I still have a ways to go but I figure “baby steps” and keep growing and learning.

    There are so many generous people in the writing community. I have several agent and author blogs I check each morning (like this one.) I learn so much not just from the post but also from the comments.

    So, thank you everyone for the good stuff, and for the tough stuff, like rejections, it’s all part of the journey.

  14. Avatar Chumplet says:

    If I had known how generous and helpful the writing community was ten years ago, I would have started writing much sooner.

    I learned so much in the last three years from fellow writers, agents and editors. I was so enthusiastic I queried way too early, and learned from my mistakes.

    Bookends was especially kind when I queried for Bad Ice (or The Lost Season) before it was ready. I received a super rejection pointing out that the word count was rather short.

    I reworked the manuscript and the query but didn’t think it would be appropriate to resubmit since I wasn’t invited to. I eventually sold the novel to a small press in Calgary and I’m excited about the promotion process when it’s released.

    I’ve received encouragement and kudos from so many corners of the publishing world that I’m confident in my abilities and I’m enjoying every minute of it – the writing, the blogging, the critique groups and the companionship.

    I’m not rushing my WIP at the moment because I realize I must learn more about the craft. When it’s finished (and I mean REALLY finished) I will definitely submit to Bookends.

  15. Ahh, I’m glad the whooping and hollering won’t scare you, because I’m pretty sure that if/when I sell a book, that will be my exact reaction. God forbid I appear unprofessional!

    The good:
    I love that the internet is being used altruistically by so many agents and authors. Sure, (some of) you say that the blogs and useful websites are maintained selfishly, because they promote you and draw clients to you, but I think I’ve gained more from the collected pool of knowledge. Any time I have a few spare minutes between tasks, I can log on and learn how something works in the business, what doesn’t work in a query, and so on. So thank you.

  16. Avatar Heidi says:

    Thank you, Jessica, for this. I was a bit frustrated (and yes, discouraged) with the 118 comments/vents.

    I am so thankful, though, for agents who blog, who let us in on the “secrets” that many of us would otherwise be ignorant of.

    I am thankful that many people who do get published continue to comment on these blogs so that, when it is tempting to say “This is impossible,” there is someone to remind me that it isn’t.

    I love the feeling when I do get a request for my manuscript, even if it is followed with a polite rejection. It’s a high like no other.

    I love those agents who are prompt with their replies, both rejections and requests.

    I love agents who show how much they love their authors. It makes me want to be repped by them, because I know they will treat my work with the same passion.

    I love writing. Do I need to say this?

    I love that writing can be a tool to make a difference in the world, even if indirectly.

    I love the feel of the keyboard under my fingers and the clicking sound it makes when I am really on a roll.

    I love my husband and family for being overwhelmingly enthusiastic about this adventure of mine.

    I love when other authors are supportive and hopeful for other writers, instead of acting like you getting published is taking their chance away.

    I love that I can read, read, read and call it part of my job!

  17. The good for me are the agents and editors who blog so I can have additional material from which to teach my creative writing students about the biz. I hope I get published one day, but even if I don’t, I hope one of my CW kids does. That will be a really special day for me, knowing I had some teeny tiny part in their success and seeing them happy. Thank you guys for all you do.

  18. Avatar lj says:

    I had no idea how great it could be to have an agent until this year, when I signed with a stellar one.

    What do I love? The business side is handled in a competent, timely manner, with frequent updates, and he always asks for my okay before moving ahead on a matter. He’s professional to the core.

    I love the sense that he’s got my back, whatever situation arises. He’s there with advice and counsel, and will tell me when I’m worried over nothing; but when the issue is important, he straps on the holster and hits the OK corral.

    The fact that he’s taken the business load off my shoulders, and given me a great deal of encouragement as well, has had a huge impact on my creative life. I’m writing more, I’m writing faster, and I’m loving the chance to discuss career strategy as well as the work.

    And the questions I have been asked, by him and others at the agency, still blow me away. Here are a few:
    “How is this working for you?”
    “What are your thoughts on this?”
    And my all-time favorite: “Is there anything more we could be doing for you?”

    A good agent is worth the world to a writer… and I hope all you good agents out there know it.

  19. Avatar Karen Duvall says:

    OMG, where do I start? 8^) I think I’ll restrict my comments to my love of (most) agents.

    I love the agent who worked with me for 9 months to shape up my manuscript, even though she ultimately decided not to take me on. She improved my book and made me a better writer in the process, with no compensation for herself. I’ll be forever grateful, Jacky Sach.

    Many thanks go to the agent I pitched to at a conference who gave me phenomenal feedback on my concept and within less than 15 minutes helped me replot the book! And it ended up being the best book I’ve ever written. So far. Heh.

    I love the agent who, years ago during an intimate critique workshop at a conference, helped me see my story start from a more appropriate viewpoint character that resulted in a more powerful beginning to the book.

    I could go on and on, but I’ve got to get back to work.

    Thanks, Jessica, for a lovely blog.

  20. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Yes to all the wonderful, supportive people out there supporting the arts!

    I love the literary magazine editors, staff, and donors who read, edit, and make possible the publication of my work!

    I love the artists’ residencies and all their staff and donors for giving me wonderful time and community in which to write!

    I love the arts councils and foundations that make it their business to support artists and the organizations that support artists!

    I love readers who buy and share my work!

    Some day I also hope to love the agent who comes to represent my work!


  21. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I absolutely love the community. Through writing/publishing, I have made some amazing friends. If I say “I don’t know what to do with XYZ,” Someone is always right there to say “Let me put you in touch with so and so.”

    It truly is a generous community.

    I love my editor, who has been fighting a long fight to get my book the best placement possible.

    I love my agent! Her motto is “Call anytime.” She’s so enthusiastic about her clients that you can’t help but get excited as well. And trust me, in this business, you NEED excitement on the pitching end. 🙂

    There are tons of good things about this industry.

  22. Avatar Mark Terry says:

    As I wrote in my blog today, my initial response was a total blank on this. Maybe I needed caffeine, a workout and some food, because after lunch I came up with:

    Occasionally I get “fan” mail. That’s pretty cool.

    Generally speaking, the people I’ve met in the business have been great. I feel like sometimes we all deal with each other as if we’re potentially explosive materials, but the people in publishing, various self-centered agendas aside, are pretty cool people.

    I like the work itself. (I.e. Writing). I even like editing and rewriting.

    I like holding a book in my hand.

    I like seeing my book on a bookstore or library shelf.

    I like being invited to do talks. (Far more than I actually like doing them, but it’s nice to be invited).

    I like advance checks and royalty checks.

    I like feeling like a writer, talking to agents, editors, movie producers.

    I like seeing the cover art for the first time (usually).

    I like holding the books in my hands.

    I like that movie people seem to like my work more than publishing people, though neither party is in any particular hurry to put their money where their mouths are.

  23. Avatar Travis Erwin says:

    The truth is I have met many more good agents and editors than bad. I have had three different agents pick up the phone and call me. No not the good call. All were rejections but they took the time and the price of the call to tell my why they were saying no and what I needed to work on to get to that next level. Now I had met each of these agents at Conferences or workshops so there was a bit of personal contact beforehand.

    I have also had one particular editor express a good deal of interest in my work. She has read all three of my novels and made notes as she did so. I consider myself very fortunate that I to have met many generous and down to earth professionals in the business. Sure I’ve encountered a few jerks but then again we all have our bad days.

  24. Avatar heather says:

    Hi, new reader here.
    I recently had an agent reject my book, and it was the best thing for my writing. Not only was it a nice rejection that still left me feeling good about myself, but she made a couple of suggestions. She had no obligation to make those suggestions and even asked if I wanted them (who’d be idiotic enough to refuse?). Now nearing the end of some revisions, I see how her suggestions made my writing tighter, my characterization clearer, and my story more meaningful.
    Thank you, agents, for those times you take out of your busy schedules for the sake of the art.

  25. Avatar Chessie says:

    I love the feeling I get when I send something new out to my critique partner, and she reads it and says, “this is great,” or any number of other little comments that make me smile and feel like I’ve got talent.

    I love helping other writers in any way I can. I’ve had others help and mentor me, and passing it forward is good for the soul.

    I love editors and agents who are standing up to their necks in a ferocious tide of our hopes and dreams, and even though they are tired, frustrated, stressed, busy, and everything else, they do some little thing to give us hope or encouragement.

    And I’m very thankful for the agents and others in publishing that take the time to blog. It’s all better when we know we aren’t alone.

  26. Avatar Janet says:

    Seeing as my only contact with agents so far has been via blogs, let me say too that I appreciate very much the time and effort involved in putting these things out. You have doubtless saved me from doing a lot of clueless things, simply by giving me a clue. It’s very hard to know how an industry works if somebody doesn’t tell you.

    As for the writing, I like the creativity of it. As in anything creative I do, I like pausing and looking back at what I’ve done and savouring it. I like sanding away the rough bits and polishing the good bits and being able to enjoy what I’ve produced. I like discovering that other people enjoy it too. For a writer at my stage of development, there are no sweeter words than “I want to read more” especially coming from people who are picky readers.

    I like worrying over a plot problem until the solution comes to me and everything falls into place.

  27. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Believe it or not, I love the personalized rejection letter Jessica sent me a few months ago. I keep it in my purse and pull it out to read it once in a while when I get that “I’m a no talent writer” feeling that creeps up every so often. Yes, it was a rejection, but it was encouraging and I’ll take all the encouragement I can get. Thanks so much, Jessica, for taking a little extra time to say something more than “It’s just not right for me”. It’s appreciated more than you know!!

  28. Avatar Kate H says:

    It was an agent I met at a conference who first made me feel validated as a writer. It was my first conference, an early draft of my first book, and she loved my writing–raved about it. Unfortunately, when she read the full she decided to pass because it didn’t fit the niche she was most comfortable in, but that doesn’t diminish the absolute elation I felt when I first received her praise. I’ll always be grateful to that agent, and her attitude will always color my attitude toward agents in general. Like all book lovers, you are on balance a generous bunch.

  29. I love agent blogs. I love to hear about what makes you say yes and why you reject. I think this gives a clearer view of your submission guidelines then the blurb under that heading. As you know our voice, we now know your’s.
    Writing is an art. Publishing is a business. We’re selling something here. We have to know the difference. Agents and Editors helps us see this.
    I love walking into B&N and seeing all the books and knowing most of these come to be because of agent/author cooperation.
    I like that there are an amazing amount of agents and editors coming to conferences and other talk type things reaching out to us prepubs.
    I like that I’m not so afraid of you guys anymore.
    I like hearing the success stories that some agents post on their blogs. I buy those books to support my fellow writers.
    I’ve had a lot of jobs in my life but never have I seen a profession where we are in competition to sell our books but still everyone (agents, authors, editors) tries to help everyone else.

  30. Avatar spyscribbler says:

    Your blog is the most positive blog on the industry out there, that I know of. There is a ton of advice out there that’s disheartening and frustrating. I believe it’s true, but I can’t read it, often, because I need to focus on the positive if I’m to motivate myself to take risks and grow.

    Reader mail is way up there. I love that what I write can connect with someone else’s emotions. The first time a reader told me I was their favorite writer ranks somewhere in the top ten moments of my life.

    I like creating something. I like working; there’s some sort of old-fashioned pride in creating something and then getting the check.

    I love writing. I love getting messy and digging in and shaping the story. It’s always a miracle, to me, when it’s finished.

    All story is fascinating to me. It’s just this amazing, cohesive, lump of threads that create an emotional experience. It never ceases to fascinate me.

    I love that when you sit down, it’s just you and the page. I love the mental performance of it, and the journey to bring out the best possible book from yourself.

    I love walking through the bookstore, every day. It’s like a drug for me.

  31. Avatar Lucy says:

    “I love editors and agents who are standing up to their necks in a ferocious tide of our hopes and dreams.” — Chessie

    Chessie, what a beautiful way to put it.

    As I’ve said before, I’ve never really had anything but positive contacts with agents. One that I queried was retiring from the business, but was generous enough to refer me to another agent. Another took the time to give me one of the most helpful critique/rejections that I’ve ever received.

    I think that the writing business can’t be easy for anyone involved, from any side of it. As Chessie says, it involves our hopes and dreams, and they are such explosive things. You can safely handle TNT with less delicacy than is need for someone else’s writing.

    I do hope that the agents and other publishing professionals who are reading this blog will go on loving their jobs, because I know I love mine, and we can’t work without each other.

    God bless you all.

    – L.C. Blackwell

  32. Avatar Angie Fox says:

    I love reading all of these posts! This truly is a wonderful business or so many of us wouldn’t be in it. There’s nothing that compares to a writing session where everything is working, the ideas are popping and the story that is hitting the page is more exciting than you imagined when you sat down to the computer.

    I love talking to other writers about what they’re doing and wondering just how in the heck they thought of their storylines. And on top of that, getting to meet the authors I admire at writers conferences. Everyone is so nice and approachable. It’s a true thrill, given that some of these people have been on my bookshelves for years.

    And agents really are working hard to get great books into the hands of editors. It’s their job to help writers succeed, and we all know there are a lot of easier ways to make a living. Most agents are out there doing their best every day, even if the answer is “no.”

    Case in point, I don’t think I would have found my current agent without an absolutely great rejection from a different agent. He wrote me a long letter about what was right and what was wrong about a mystery I sent to him. Basically, he said it might sell, but he hoped it didn’t because I had a better book in me if I just stopped holding back and made the story bigger. I could totally see his point and, in fact, stopped sending the book out immediately. I’d planned on rewriting the mystery, but before I did, I used his advice to write a paranormal that I couldn’t get out of my head. And that book sold. Even though he doesn’t represent my new genre, I’d love to run into that agent sometime at a conference and tell him the difference he made with a rejection.

    And as much as rejection stinks, there’s nothing like finding an agent who is truly excited about your work, and an editor who feels the same. It’s a rush to take that first look at the book cover, to get an actual pub date, to realize all of the 5:00 a.m. writing sessions can actually lead to a published book.

    It’s a crazy business, full of ups and downs and I can’t imagine doing anything else.

  33. The good? That we can research agents, editors, publishers so thoroughly these days, thanks to the Net. When I landed my first agent, I had no idea he wasn’t going to do much for me. I’d picked his name out of the Literary Market Place and sent him a query.

    Nowadays, we writers can look more closely at an agent and make a more informed decision.

    It may take time away from our writing, but it means a lot less rejection.

  34. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I love agents and editors who accept queries via email. I love the agents and editors even more when they get back to you in less than 5 days!!!! There’s nothing like getting a quick response!!!

  35. Avatar Jael says:

    Good: fellow writers who come together in communities, physical or otherwise, to share and support each other.

    Good: agents who say things like “Yes! That sounds great!”

    Good: agents who say “I didn’t love this as much as I wanted to, but you’re a very talented writer.”

    Good: agents and editors who work so hard to get the books they love into print.

    Good: writers and agents who blog about and demystify the process.

    Good: writers who understand that rejections are almost NEVER personal.

    Good: reviewers who lavish praise on books they feel deserve it, and respectfully point out the weaknesses in the books they don’t love.

    Good: critique partners who bring their own perspective to a manuscript.

    Good: readers, without whom we wouldn’t be having any part of this conversation, the bad or the good.

  36. Avatar AstonWest says:

    Being ready to throw in the towel for good, then only to find a magazine which was a perfect fit for your material…

  37. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I’m with Anon 10:51 — 118 rants, and only 36 props to the pub world??!! What up people?! Aren’t we writing ‘cuz we love it? Yet we can’t come up with more props than rants? OY! Gimme some sugar.

    Me – I write because it’s fun and I feel witty, even if I really am the only one thinks so. Makes me feel good. Makes me feel creative. Makes me feel like I actually learned something in school.

    I love other people who are witty and sarcastic. You?

    I repeat, gimmme some sugar people!

  38. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I haven’t gotten to experience publishing yet, so I don’t know what’s good about it.

    Yes, I love to write and it’s one of the greatest things of all. But since I don’t know any more than that, all my experiences with actual publishing world have been negative, so to speak. I’ve gotten some very nice rejections, but still rejections.

    Perhaps that’s why there’s such a disparity — everyone could participate in the rant 😉 Only those who’ve actually experienced publishing (or having an agent) can share the positives there, and that leaves a bunch of us out.

  39. I have been cutting back on blog time because I have a deadline on some things, but you are part of my golden triangle.

    I have to admit I had a few tears this morning when I read this. I didn’t have time to respond, but it did make my day. I couldn’t wait to get off work to come home and write.

    I’ve said this before and I believe it with all my heart. This is a golden age for writers. There has never been so much help, advice, encouragement and connection available to us. I dont understand why agents and editors share themselves through these blogs, but I’ll take gratefully accept your generosity.

    “There is only one “call” in this business and that’s “the call” when your book has sold. However, for an agent there are two calls (which is why it’s more fun to be an agent). I get to make that call to offer representation, that breathless, nerve-wracking call (breathless and nerve-wracking for me, by the way). What if you say no? What if you say yes?”

    What if they hang up?

    Some years ago I was shopping a children’s book I wrote. A lady called and told me her name and she’d like to represent me. Now this was a top agent and I had been kicking myself for being stupid enough to submit to her. So, I thought it was a friend who was playing a joke on me. I told her, “Telling Tommy he isn’t amusing,” and hung up. She called back and assured me it was real. We laughed about it later, but, I am quite sure she is one in a million for more reasons than one.

    Yeah, I really do love agents.

    As for the screaming, good to know. I can stop practicing being cool and reserved now.

    Thanks for posting this.

  40. Avatar Christine says:

    I love the communities. I started writing my first novel about a year and a half ago, and after I finished the first horrid draft, I found a number of writer’s blogs who had gone through the same frustrations with their first manuscripts, and that helped me be more determined to completely overhaul it and make this one the best it could be. (I’m on the third draft right now, about 3 chapters from the end, and I promised myself that if it’s finished and polished by June, I’ll find the money to go to the writer’s conference in Tulsa) Agent, writer, and editor blogs are a constant reminder that this is not a dream. It’s a business, and one that I could be a part of. Plus, I get to talk to all sorts of really cool, fanastically creative people!

  41. Just in case anyone is interested, there were over 30 posts in the rant thread, unless I miscounted, which were either praise for agents, questions or answers to questions or comments.

    It appears the large majority of complaints were about zero response. Most people, myself included, would just like a form rejection to at least let us know an agent isn’t intersted.

    I think the list of things we adore about agents FAR exceeds the negative.

    Virtual roses to all of you, even the guy agents and editors.

  42. Avatar Cindy Procter-King says:

    What an excellent, positive post. Thanks for sharing.

  43. Avatar Anonymous says:

    The good: Agents who aren’t afraid to say “I absolutely love this!”

    Even better: Editors who remember specific lines from a manuscript and quote them back to an author at a conference a year later.

    The best: The rare moments when publishing ceases to be a business and when writers, agents, and editors forget about bottom lines and selling books and simply get lost in a GREAT STORY.

    Thanks, Jessica, for the opportunity to focus on the good!

  44. Avatar Gabrielle says:

    The good:

    Honestly, you’re more likely to succeed in writing than any other art. If you think about all the singers out there, and all the sculptors and painters (who really pays for paintings nowadays), writing isn’t looking too bad.

    The good is that I love it, and other people love it; the good is that it’s just enough of a far shot to make it a dream, but not so far that it’s completely out of reach. A touchable dream, if you really stretch your fingers.

  45. Avatar Elissa M says:

    There are lots of things I like about this business, but I have to say the books are number one. Authors, agents, editors, publishers all exist for one purpose: producing books for me to read! Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Still, I love the books, and if I’m never published I won’t mind as long as there are other books for me to read.

  46. Avatar Elissa M says:

    P.S. to Gabrielle,
    I’m an artist. People buy my paintings. Really. People pay my husband to play his instruments, too. The arts are in no way dead.

  47. I love agent blogs. Thank you, BookEnds!

    I love my editors, both when they say, wow, that’s a great line; and um, I think this needs some work. 🙂

    I love new story ides. I love writing in the darkest hours of the night or morning when it’s just me and the story. Even more, I love writing “the end” and if I’d quit reading blogs tonight, I’d be there even quicker. By the end of the month for sure.

  48. I love that this industry is so accessible and supportive. When I started out, I had no idea how to get from point A of writing a book, to point Z of it being published (and truthfully, I didn’t even really know that much about point A either!). There have been so many people over the years willing to go out of their own way to help me for no other reason than I happened to be a fellow writer starting out in this particularly hard game. When I’m having a bad writing day, I always know there are people I can call or email who know exactly what I’m going through.
    And I love the rush of a new story idea. I love the satisfaction in finishing that story and the anticipation of starting the next (even though at some points in the middle I’d like to throw my computer out the nearest window).
    I just wish I could find an agent as excited about my work as me!

  49. Avatar tina gray says:

    Countdown of the top ten things I have loved/still love about the process:

    10) Conferences–a home planet for the writer community where we are no longer aliens and are offered networking opportunities and workshops to hone our craft.

    9) AAR, Predators and Editors,Writers Beware–along with all of the umpteen other organizations put into play with no other purpose but to keep aspiring authors safe from the “not so nices” that would exploit our dreams and make us cry.

    9) Agents and their blogs–the legitimate agents that work hard to get new books in the door and are in it to help us and guide us; that treat us like people as opposed to commodities–this blog/agency is one of the best! THANKS JESSICA, KIM, AND JACKY

    8) Writer’s blogs–both those aspiring and accomplished; their camaraderie has carried me through more than one rough patch and given me the faith needed to plow ahead; their humble admittance of personal faux pas has saved me from making a fool of myself at times and kept me from feeling alone other times when I screw up royally (i.e. mispelling an agent’s name or sending out query brochures. Yes, query brochures. Don’t ask).

    7) Rejections–the form letters and the personals; one offers closure, the other fresh insight and hope for another chance.

    6) Crit groups–Sympathetic ears that have listened to me bemoan and cry but never let me give up or sell out. Oh, and are never afraid to give me a swift kick in the pants if I’m writing lazy.

    5) Rewrites–a second, third, or fourth opportunity to nail that story. I mean, seriously, in how many other professions do you get so many chances to refine your product?

    4) Readers–without them, we would have nothing but empty words. It’s their love for the characters and their hunger for escape that gives the story LIFE.

    3) Epiphanies–the moments of AH-HA, when the idea is born and the plot begins to simmer in your mind.

    2) Support–from family members and friends who may not even understand the process in the beginning, but somehow get that this passion and drive for production is more than a passing phase.

    1) Acceptance and Affirmation–after over 2 years of rejections, finally getting an agent (a brilliant and enthusiastic one to boot–:^)) who understands my vision, likes my voice, and is as excited about my characters and plot as me.

    It can be a rollercoaster ride at times; but in the broader scope, the rush of conquering the highs and lows and walking off the ride with your stomach and dignity still intact, makes the nausea, tears, and disjointed keyboard all worthwhile.

  50. Avatar Diana says:

    Where to start?

    I love to write. I love creating a world inside my manuscript, and I love knowing that some day, readers out there might be sharing my vision of this world by reading about it.

    I love the fact that most anyone who works in this business loves writing and reading.

    I love that so many authors, agents, editors, and others in the business are willing to take time out of their lives to share their understanding of both the business and the craft.

    Thanks for the opportunity to talk about the good things!

  51. Since I vented I’ll say some positive things.
    1. The camarederie – I know that there are communities I can be a part of and they understand what I’m going through
    2. Friends – I’ve made some great friends in this business.
    3. Conferences- What a blast!
    4. Seeing my book on a shelf!

  52. I love the writing itself, obviously, but I am also thankful to the agents who requested my manuscript for the first novel I was trying to publish. They all ended up in rejections, but still, the comments I received helped me to become a better writer.

    One agent in particular gave me so much hope from the initial query I sent out. After that, she edited the manuscript, although she didn’t offer representation. Her comments and thoughts on that manuscript have helped me tremendously, not only with that project, but with everything I have written since. I’m currently polishing up my second project and am excited to query her again. Nothing may result from it, but I will always be grateful for the time she put into my project even though she didn’t want to represent it. I know I will always be thankful because it really gave me insight into what agents are looking for and thinking about as they read the manuscript, and I always tell my friends, if I ever get published with or without her as my agent, I will have to thank her for her help.

    Also, I love other writers. I have gone to several book signings, and each author has been encouraging about writing and this business. One of them gave me the best advice that I will never forget. She said, “Just remember, the people who get published aren’t necessarily the best writers. They’re just the most persistent.” I have never forgotten that and tell myself that with each rejection I have received. One author even signed my book, “Look forward to seeing you at your signing.” It’s great to meet an NY Times bestselling author is just as excited about the work of some unpublished writer as they would be about some book sitting on a shelf at the bookstore. I love the enthusiasm, and mostly, I am grateful for the encouragement.

    And finally, the blogs by agents are great. I’ve learned so much, and helps tremendously. Thank you!

  53. Avatar Usman says:

    What Shelly said: I love the community of writers who are the most supportive group I have come across.

    I love reading about writing and sharing the bitter and the sweet with people I barely know.

  54. Avatar JJ Cooper says:

    My agent is brilliant. Very quick to respond to all type of questions regarding the business. Three weeks after submission we recived a two-book deal from Random House. ‘That call’ was a dream come true. I had so many questions that she took the time to answer. Instead of telling me to take the deal, she outlined the options and reassured me that we had time to consider. She arranged a call for me to speak with the acquisition editor at RH. My agent took the time to help me bounce ideas and some questions that I would like to ask the editor. She called and asked if I had any fianl questions before the call with the editor. The call went very well and I was so well prepared by my agent that I think it sounded like I knew a bit about the business. Anyway, although we had other options, I accepted the Random House deal.

    I could not have done it without a brilliant agent. You guys and gals don’t always get the credit you all deserve. Thank you.


  55. Things I love about this business:

    — The generosity of people – writers, agents, editors, all those willing to help others just because they can. I’ve been amazed at the support writers offer. I’ve never experienced such a warm support system in a business environment as I do in this one.

    — Agents like those at BookEnds, who not only work for their authors, but work for the community with their blog. This blog has been amazing. Their contests have helped so much in making me a better writer. I’ve learned a tremendous amount from this blog alone. (Not to mention others.)

    — Feedback – via critique partners, contests and yes, even (maybe especially) rejections. Every bit help, if you can remain open and willing to take the suggestions and see how they can apply. Because of the feedback I received from my critique partners, I finished the novel and started submitting it. From the feedback (yes, rejections) I received from agents, including Jessica and Kim, I continued to polish the manuscript and actually just sold that novel to a small publisher two weeks ago.

    I don’t know that I would have made it so far withOUT the feedback. Without other writers sharing and helping me improve. Without Jessica’s comments or Kim’s comments about what didn’t work for them. Because they offered that, I could improve. How often in other businesses do you have that ability to try and try again?

    — I love that every day, I get to live my dream. I laugh every time I say, “I have to go get some work done.” and realize that’s my writing! It’s my work, and I LOVE it. How many people THRIVE on what they do in their careers?

    — I love that others writers wrote books that agents loved enough to send to editors, who loved them enough to publish them so that I could read them and fall in love. Without ALL of these people, I wouldn’t be a writer.

    For all it’s ups and downs, all the hard work that never stops, this business is like no other. It’s generous, crazy, funny, heartbreaking, difficult, wonderful and ultimately – the best job I’ve ever had. And I even said that before I got that first “call.” 🙂 After? It’s that much more amazing. LOL

  56. I am overwhelmed by the good in this business:

    ~an editor of a large house that found my writing online and asked if I was interested in writing a book, phoned to discuss how to work on a proposal, sent me a box full of recent releases from her house. Unspeakable grace!

    ~ an agent who contacted me on the recommendation of two of my blog readers, one of whom was an author client of his, who offered representation though I had written no query, had no completed proposal. Unspeakable grace!

    ~an acquisition editor at my first conference who recognized my name tag (because of aforementioned editor) and introduced himself when I was too nervous to find words, who affirmed, encouraged, followed up with emails. Unspeakable grace!

    ~ for forums like this, places to gather, learn, listen. A place to and express how grateful we who scratch down lines and curves and thoughts in out of the way places are to those in the industry who care simply about words.

    Yes, I read through the vents. And was humbled by how much I have to give thanks for. I have only met kindness and warmth in this orb of words.

    “Thank you” seems so meager to all who daily run the minefields to carry bundles of hope-papers to the world.