Monday, 21 March 2011

Five ways to be a crap literary agent

Writers are a drag, right? It’s bad enough trying to deal with the ones you represent without having to deal with the ones you don’t. Especially the ones who try to get on your books. I mean, shit, what is it they think you do? Here’s some tips to ensure you don’t accidently discover the next big thing.

Don’t bother updating your website

You wouldn’t want a potential million-selling author thinking you’ve got a grip on the changing world of electronic-publishing by having an up-to-date website would you? Take a leaf out of this agent of genius who insists on no email submissions in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook yet states on their website (which hasn’t been updated for a year) that they won’t consider anything other than email submissions! That’s really going to fox those pesky writers.

Slag off writers via social media

You know in the old days when you could pin up a query letter on the notice board for company-wide mocking? Now you can do that shit on the internet. Make the most of it - you won’t come over like a heartless bastard, you’ll come over as really smart and intelligent. I mean what are they going to do - unfollow you? You’re the self-appointed gatekeeper to the industry for chrissakes! With any luck, they’ll be so humiliated that no-one will ever submit to you again.

Pontificate at length on how to write

Those authors never need to know you’re a frustrated writer who spent ten years not finishing that first draft. I mean, you’re too busy for that stuff, right? But it doesn’t mean you can’t use those writing skills you think you learnt to really tell ‘em how to do it. If they have half-a-braincell, they’ll realise how little they know. Hell, they’ll be wishing you did actually finish that masterpiece.

Incessantly bang on about the ‘business’ of writing

Let’s be honest, if any of us really wanted to make money we’d be in banking - but the great unpublished don’t need to know that. There’s a business, which only we understand - marketing, editing - all that shit. Bang that home, all the time. We don’t want those head-in-the-clouds creatives getting any ideas about using imagination and feeling to produce great works of art instead of easily compartmentalised genre conformity - I mean, shit, they do that and we’re going to have to start making subjective value judgements - then they might get to think we don’t actually know what the fuck we’re doing.

Ignore the writing on the wall

Ok, so we don’t make much money but we do have long lunches and we need to make enough to keep that rolling. Best not to encourage that new-fangled e-publishing thing then. Imagine how horrible it would be if writers could publish what they want and readers choose what they read without us to decide who gets the breaks? Let’s hold that power for as long as possible - afterall we have kudos on our side.

And let’s not ever forget why we got into this business in the first place.


  1. Well said, as usual, Mr. Killick. For some reason this reminded me of a Keith Olbermann rant. I kinda miss those.

  2. The writing's on the wall for agents. I hear they're scattering in the wind. I had two who did nothing for my career because they had no intro with publishers into into the genre in which I wrote.

  3. I couldn't agree more. I won't say more because I've been known to go on tangents - but - love this.

  4. Now I know you are my hero :-)

  5. @Rahma I had no idea who Keith Olberman was til I just looked him up - my browser is refusing to play any of the you tube videos so I don't know yet if I like the comparison! But thanks for reading, commenting, and enjoying Rahma.

    @Gerrie - yeah, that's the thing, you can get an agent (or two in your case) and it still doesn't mean a thing. Welcome to the blog, Gerrie and thanks for commenting.

    @Andi - thanks for reading and commenting, and feel free to say more tangential or otherwise - it's good to have your thoughts.

    @becca - just doing my job, Bec ;)