Author Topic: Why is this industry the worst communicators?  (Read 1487 times)

Offline AVA_writing

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Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« on: March 28, 2021, 10:13:12 PM »
Disclaimer: I am new to this industry, untrained and unpublished.

Disclaimer said, I find it ironic that in an industry dedicated to the written word, they are the worst communicators in terms of feedback, i.e. queries that never get a response. Does anyone else find this ironic?


Offline raktinope

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2021, 10:33:42 PM »
Publishing is notoriously slow. I'd even say creative ventures in general don't have the rigid punctuality that say, manufacturing or finance have. Deadlines in in publishing don't have as serious consequences as more corporate industries. Alas, s...l...o...w......r...e...s...p...e...n...s...e...s

Offline AVA_writing

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2021, 10:37:25 PM »
But, everyone in life is angry when the ATM machine is being slow. Why hasn't this industry truly been disrupted?

Offline raktinope

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2021, 10:43:48 PM »
There's no monetary incentive to speed up ATMs. You need to withdraw money. You'll wait in line to withdraw money no matter how long it takes.

You need an agent. You'll wait as long it takes to hear a positive response from one. An agent only moves you to the top of their slush pile when you get an offer, because now they risk losing money by not snatching you up before another agent does. They are the gatekeepers. They risk nothing by making an unpublished author wait.

Offline littlewritings

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2021, 10:46:45 AM »
I see it this way: An agent gets so-and-so many queries a day, reading queries doesn't make them money, and they do need to take proper care of their clients, so client work always happens before queries. When I query, I simply have to wait my turn.

As for lack of responses, a lot of agents have stopped replying to authors not only due to a lack of time, but also because of all the rude responses they were receiving from querying authors when they sent them rejections. There are plenty of agents who do reply to queries, but even those get sh**-talked all over the place for a variety of reasons ("the response came too fast", "the response took months", "the response was only one sentence", "the response didn't include feedback", "the response is a form" etc).

Querying is an incredibly frustrating process, but I highly doubt that it can be changed in such a way that every querying author will be happy with the way it works.

Offline Tabris

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2021, 11:27:45 AM »
I had an agent, and you would not believe the communication problems we had just having conversations and sending emails. Toward the end, I started saying, "Yes, and we're in the communications industry."

I think, however, when someone is strangely uncommunicative with only one individual or class of individuals, that's not an incapacity. That's a decision. Agents figure out how to communicate just fine when there's a seven-figure three-book deal on the line.

Offline Miss Plum

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2021, 05:32:11 PM »
My pet peeve: agents who say they won't respond if they're not interested, but they want you to tell them if you get interest elsewhere. For all I know you trashed my query, or you may be one of those people who takes 9 months to respond -- there's no way of telling. And you want me to chase you down and apprise you of my project's status?

Offline Tabris

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2021, 06:42:57 PM »
My pet peeve: agents who say they won't respond if they're not interested, but they want you to tell them if you get interest elsewhere.

That's just for requested material, not for queries. You're not expected to notify everyone you've queried when you get an offer.

Offline hesterL

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2021, 08:04:05 PM »
@Tabris--I thought you were supposed to notify agents you'd queried if you receive an offer (although I'd guess that might be dependent on the age of the query). I may be wrong, though!

Offline Miss Plum

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2021, 08:36:54 PM »
My pet peeve: agents who say they won't respond if they're not interested, but they want you to tell them if you get interest elsewhere.

That's just for requested material, not for queries. You're not expected to notify everyone you've queried when you get an offer.

Yet another point they fail to communicate.

Offline Viddiest

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2021, 09:05:54 PM »
I think it's because it's a business and a pretty cut-throat one at that, so as far as I can tell, most agents only communicate when it serves their purpose. All but a few don't have the time of day to encourage the writers they feed off of. Sadly, I think they don't see any value in changing unless it brings a monetary value (despite their grandiose claims on twitter about how passionate they are about changing the world).

No, I am not cynical or bitter or anything  :no: ;D

Offline littlewritings

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2021, 12:57:54 AM »
To be honest, I just wouldn't even query agents who didn't state any sort of response time. (e.g. "If you don't hear from us, it's a pass." I at the very least wanted a point in time where I could close the query.)

Anyway, I feel like people put agents on this weird pedestal, but at the end of the day, being an agent is still a job. And... Do I love my own job? Yes. Would I work an extra three hours for free every day just because I love my job? Absolutely not. There's this expectation that agents should work and read queries 24/7 and never have any free time because they should be reading queries instead. And that's just not realistic.

(Also re: notifying agents with an offer: You don't "have to" notify anyone. It's just pretty rude not to at the very least notify the other agents who have your material. My advice would be to notify everyone who hasn't said no, because there's a chance that you'll get even more requests and through that more chances of another or several other offers. Can't hurt to know all your options, because maybe it'll turn out that Agent X who hasn't even read your query yet will be the exact right agent for you.)

Offline AVA_writing

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2021, 09:55:57 PM »
Thanks for all the perspectives. The friction point makes me want to redesign it. I just might.

Offline richardclin

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2021, 04:52:04 AM »
Dear AVA_writing,


I too am new to this bewildering, beautiful literary realm and have often wondered as you have why we have to compose highly-customized, grammar-perfect, engaging, even enthralling query letters only to receive the occasional request for a partial/full or, more frequently, a form rejection or, much more frequently, no response at all.


Then I looked back on my past life when I was once a powerful executive search consultant leading two regional practices for Korn Ferry, which is essentially the Penguin Random House of the executive search industry. I was the gatekeeper for senior executives seeking their next C-suite role with the likes of Starbucks, Google, or GE. I received 5-10 emails a day from these powerful people and I responded to...a few of them. When I had the time. And when I had the inclination to do so from home after a long day at the office.


When I saw something I liked after taking a cursory 3-second look at their email or CV that they had put hours into crafting highlighting careers that had taken decades to establish, I responded with...a form letter that I would do my best to somewhat customize so I wouldn't sound like a jerk (after all, these candidates might one day become a client). Or I would ask my assistant to send a reply on my behalf. I tried my best and didn't think twice about the ones to whom I never even had the decency to reply, because I lived a crazy busy life.


On the other hand, when my clients emailed or called me, I wrote them right back within the day or even hour.


Once I recalled this, I realized two things:


1) Karma exists in this world. I am now on the other side of the table, wearing the other shoe (actually slippers since I now work from home as an exalted author), and I am now the supplicant banging on the gates.


2) Most agents are people like you and me, trying to make it through long days and perhaps even longer nights, while they read and edit client manuscripts, build and maintain relationships with myriad publishing houses, undergo the same challenging, at times, dispiriting submissions process with the publishers that we experience with them. And juggle a family. And perhaps maintain a personal life.


With this in mind, I have come to especially appreciate the positive replies, the rejections with helpful feedback, and even the form rejections that try to make me feel better even as they decline my query. Because someone took the time to send one of these despite their crazy busy lives.


Not sure whether any of this helps, but it helped me to put things in perspective.


Sincerely,
RCL

Offline Munley

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Re: Why is this industry the worst communicators?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2021, 07:30:43 AM »
The link below is for an article that discusses 3 agents/agencies who have either let clients down or committed outright crimes.

The article says that Danielle Smith (the second one discussed) was never charged with a federal crime, but asserts that the typical lax and unprofessional communications, and lack of transparency-- practices that the publishing industry regularly gets away with -- laid the groundwork for the deceptive ways this agent screwed her clients over.

Authors are reluctant to complain about these communication practices for fear of losing publishing opportunities or becoming known in the small world of publishing as a pain to deal with. A ruined reputation is no minor problem for an author to contend with.

There is a really sad quote from what one of Smith's clients submitted anonymously to Publishers Weekly, regarding the harm this agent inflicted.
https://writingcooperative.com/3-literary-agent-horror-stories-3345ef27a38d
« Last Edit: March 31, 2021, 01:58:55 PM by Munley »