Monday, December 20, 2010

You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch

Everyone and their mother is coming out with a "Best Books" list of 2010--Entertainment Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Telegraph, etc. etc. But amidst all the favorite titles being called out and recommended, among all the "yay for books" end-of-year buzz, there's at least one agent whose holiday cheer is less than cheerful.

Betsy Lerner of Dunow, Carlson, and Lerner Literary Agency seems to be taking a lesson or two from the Grinch this December in a shocking rant about what she feels about being an agent:
Sold my last book of 2011 today. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa. I know many of you hate agents out there and I get it. I hated most agents when I was an editor. Taking them to lunch so they could shit on your face, if you feel me. I once took an agent out to lunch who looked at the menu and said, “If I have one more cobb salad, I’m going to kill myself.” Another pulled a bill away as I was figuring out the tip and said, “Gimme that, I know 15% of anything.”

But you didn’t ask me about agent lunches. You didn’t ask about anything. I’m not proud of it, but I am an agent. I’m proud of the job I do for my clients, but being a professional sleaze bag is a drag. You know the one about the guy who comes home to discover that his wife and children have been raped and murdered, and his house has been burned down. The cop explains that his agent had come to his house. The guy gets all excited, really, he says, my agent came to my house.

Just for fun tonight, just because I think a little pre-holiday raging is called for, I wonder if you would share your worst agent story and no need to mention names (especially if it’s me).

See the original post HERE

I had heard rumors of this post last week--authors, editors, and fellow agents alike all had something to say about Lerner's extreme candor. And now that I too have read it, my mind is quite frankly boggled.

Though her agency represents titles like The Lovely Bones, I'm Down, and Belong to Me, Lerner shows a lack of professionalism and lucidity--how she manages to actually maintain a career, I haven't a clue--that I've known many an agent to possess. And I know a lot of agents. I like a lot of agents. A lot of said agents love being agents. There are, of course, agents here and there that I'd much rather never deal with again, but all-in-all I've had pretty good experiences with the people on other side of the biz. As a result, Lerner's claims ring less than true in my ears.

Whether her rant was due to a forgotten pill or an honest hatred for her job, no one can really say. But one thing is for sure: if you don't like you're job, don't do it. The publishing industry is not typically a lucrative one--it's not a biz people get into to make money. There's no incentive to staying in if you don't love it. As cliched as it is, there really are a thousand plus people who want to fill those shoes.

1 comment:

  1. I was surprised to see her rant because I love my agent. She works really hard, and I don't feel that she's a parasite (like so many others seem to refer to agenting as). Craziness.