I was actually surprised to read this blog post at the Waxman Literary Agency blog: Letting the Market Speak. Holly Root, the blogger in this case, talks about authors who demand that agents live up to certain timelines or other standards the authors have set.
“Get me a publishing deal for four books a year. Get me a movie deal. Get me foreign publication.” And so on, and so on, and so on.
I was astonished that there are as-yet-unpublished writers who actually think that a) they can express those desires and the whole publishing world will just fall obediently in line to accommodate them, and b) they can order an agent around like that and actually expect that agent to take them on.
Rather than being thankful that the agent is interested in helping them further their career, and being eager to learn from the agent’s experience and get some advice on helpful ways to proceed, these writers apparently just waltz in and assume that whatever decrees they lay down, the agents should just fall all over themselves to try to fulfill. Even if the demands would hurt the author’s own career, if only they knew what the agent knows.
I’m surprised that writers are so naive as to assume they can plan out the course of the career like that. It seems to me they’ve fallen prey to too many business marketers who promise that they can climb the ladder of success by being “proactive” and having a business plan. This doesn’t even work that well in the straight-on business world. (Just have a chat with the hordes of people who’ve been “downsized” unexpectedly in the past year or so.)
I’m also surprised – though I suspect I shouldn’t be – that these writers are simply that incredibly selfish. That’s not entirely their fault, because another facet of today’s business and consumer climate is to teach people (incessantly) that they are the center of the universe. The fact that they’ve come to believe it shouldn’t surprise anyone.
But one assumes that they’re capable of thinking, if they’re really writers. And they should be capable of discovering the utter fallacy of that “center of the universe” thinking. They need to recognize that the universe is going to do what it’s going to do, whatever this writer’s own stipulations, and in a clash of wills like that, the universe always wins. Add the publishing market in there, not to mention the human wills and decisions of the agent, other members of his or her agency, and all the people working at all the publishers…
Well. You get the picture. No intelligent writer will walk around with the attitude of “the world revolves around my business plan.”