Friday Fun: Agents & Writers

Next to the defeated politician, the writer is the most vocal and inventive griper on earth. He sees hardship and unfairness wherever he looks. His agent doesn’t love him (enough). The blank sheet of paper is an enemy. The publisher is a cheapskate. The critic is a philistine. The public doesn’t understand him. His wife doesn’t understand him. The bartender doesn’t understand him.

Now, before you get too mad at me…

My advice on dealing with publishers: Let your agent do it. Agents are more important than publishers. Agents are more important than anyone. Which brings me to my advice on dealing with agents. You can’t. They won’t speak to you. They’re too important.


Your turn — give us your best shot.
Writers are…
Agents are…

(Please try to have fun without being outright cruel.)

Have a good weekend!

*Thanks to Phil Cooke for sending me these quotes.

© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Register Zeekrewards on April 7, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    Or you can simpily sign up for a silver membership which is $10 a month and buy atleast 10 VIP Points each VIP Point is $1 if your saying thats to much money then your most likely never going to amke alot of money.It takes money to earn money.

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  5. Anonymous on January 16, 2011 at 9:42 PM

    >I think the only one who matches a complaining writer is an agent who complains about writers.


  6. L.C. Gant on January 15, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    >Writer are folks with a driver's license and no map. Some drive well; others…not so much.

    Agents are the GPS system; they know the way but can't (in most cases) drive the car.

    Traditional publication is an elusive exit on the highway. The access road to get there is super short and you're in the middle of rush hour traffic.

    Which explains why some writers skip it altogether and take the self-publishing route instead.

    Hmmm. That analogy sounded much better in my head.

  7. towriteistowrite on January 15, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    >Writers are…exactly what Peter Mayle said they are.

    Agents are…an unknown quantity. I'm not ready to go looking for one. First, I have to do some more whining. I'll get back to you.

  8. Jean Ann Williams on January 14, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    >Writers are . . . creative puff balls who have to learn to see this as a business.

    Agents are . . . ones that guides us along, because we're too close to our work.

  9. nightwriter on January 14, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    >Writers are the explorers, the historians recording and decoding life events…

    Agents are the peddlers/tradespeople who hawk the writer's wares on the market.

  10. Lesli Muir Lytle on January 14, 2011 at 6:11 PM

    >Agents are vampires.

    Writers have the blood.

    Agents can only hope they don't bite into a suckie suckee.


  11. crt on January 14, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    >Writers are two minded. Half the time they believe everyone is going to love what they write, the other half they believe it's rubbish.

    Agents are, well, I have quite figured that one out yet.

  12. MacDougal Street Baby on January 14, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    >Writers are quarterbacks.

    Agents are the cheerleaders.

  13. Walt M on January 14, 2011 at 5:15 PM

    >Writers are athletes, involved in an athletic event.

    Agents are ESPN commentators, deciding which performances are good enough for the "Top Ten Plays of the Day."

  14. lori on January 14, 2011 at 4:29 PM

    >Hopefully I'm not repeating. I'm on my phone, so I know I didn't read through all the comments.

    Writers are self-indulgent.

    Agents are elusive.

    Very fun post! 🙂

  15. Jael on January 14, 2011 at 4:23 PM

    >Writers are people who love words, hate rejection, live for books, fear irrelevance, throw themselves into their work, and live in hope of getting the right book into the hands of enthusastic readers.

    Agents are too.

  16. heavy hedonist on January 14, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    >Writers are: a dime a thousand dozen.

    Agents are: currently indispensible.

    I know this, from the bottom of my tiny writer heart!

  17. Timothy Fish on January 14, 2011 at 3:14 PM

    >Katharine said…
    Q: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: Why change it? Just hang a lampshade on it and everyone will believe it is the way it is meant to be.

  18. Margot Galaway on January 14, 2011 at 2:31 PM

    >Writers are needy.

    Agents are needers.

  19. Lindsay Cummings on January 14, 2011 at 2:05 PM

    >Writers are people.

    Agents are people, too. Not gods. Sometimes we forget that, and sweat bullets when we pitch to them, praying silently they won't condemn us for sounding like total idiots with a horrible idea.

  20. Beth on January 14, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    >I like Keli's and Katie's the best! Won't try to add to them. : ) Beth

  21. Leigh D'Ansey on January 14, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    >Writers are a box of tomatoes at the market, quietly observing, turning over their juices, ripening for the dinner table. The longer they're left, the harder the skin.

    Agents are the shoppers who select which tomatoes end up on the plate, garnished, dressed and flavoursome for hungry diners.

  22. Katy McKenna on January 14, 2011 at 12:59 PM

    >Writers are as numerous as the items on Kohl's clearance racks after Christmas, and find themselves on those picked-over racks for as many reasons–though a few writers are obviously in excellent condition and quite stylish, too.

    Agents have closets filled with quality separates, most of them acquired online or through gifts from dear friends, and are closed to shopping the clearance racks during the first three months of the year. 🙂

  23. Simon C. Larter on January 14, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    >Bartenders *never* understand me. It's a curse.

    Or possibly that I lapse into unintelligible Glaswegian after a few too many. I guess it could be that, too….

  24. Katharine on January 14, 2011 at 12:23 PM

    >Q: How many writers does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: Change it? What? It's perfect the way it is! Oh no! I am such a loser!

    Q: How many agents does it take to change a lightbulb?

    A: Just one. She says cut out 25K words, change the title and beef up the romantic lead. Then that lightbulb will be perfect.

  25. sarahanneloudinthomas on January 14, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    >I was trying to think of something witty, but thought I'd offer up some of my favorite already existing wit, instead. Here's one from Mark Twain:

    "All publishers are Columbuses. The successful author is their America. The reflection that they–like Columbus–didn't discover what they expected to discover, and didn't discover what they started out to discover, doesn't trouble them. All they remember is that they discovered America; they forget that they started out to discover some patch or corner of India."
    – Autobiography of Mark Twain

    I just love Mark Twain.

  26. Caroline Starr Rose on January 14, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    >I love this!

    I sent my agent an email yesterday, asking her if she could instruct me in writing a novel (tongue in cheek…sort of). She shot back an encouraging answer.

    I love the ways agents bolster their authors in the midst of all our wacky insecurities.

  27. T. Anne on January 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    >Writers are intense souls who absorb the universe through the lens of observation.

    Agents are captains of the publishing industry.

    *Sorry for the lack of funny. My sarcasm hasn't kicked in yet this morning. And BTW, am I the only one who instinctually wants to nurse that baby?

  28. Katy McKenna on January 14, 2011 at 10:58 AM

    >An agent can make a writer feel happy, like she's her only client.

    A writer can make an agent very glad she's not.

  29. Anonymous on January 14, 2011 at 10:54 AM

    >Writers are like sponges, soaking up life's experiences and trying to absorb every detail…seeing the world in shades of gray.

    Agents (mostly) see black and white, always wondering: Is this hot? Will it sell? Where's the next Twilight?

  30. Tanya Parker Mills on January 14, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    >Writers are literary wanderers, seeking for the essence of truth about the human condition no matter when or where the story's set. But once they think they've found that truth, they stumble on the path, not quite knowing how to descend again and trumpet it to the world.

    Agents are sherpa guides, reliable and trustworthy, and always at the ready to lead the visionary back down from the thin air of the mountain, gradually acclimating the writer into the oxygen density of real life.

    And like all sherpas, they can pick out at a glance those who are truly ready for the return journey.

  31. Katie Ganshert on January 14, 2011 at 9:55 AM

    >Ha! I was going to say what Jill said about agents.

    Now I have to come up with something different.

    Writers are….human.

    Agents are….human.

    Not very profound for a Friday….or is it? (okay, I'll stop doing the dot, dot, dot thing now)

  32. Jill Kemerer on January 14, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    >Love this!

    Writers are…kooky. Different. They see the world through the same eyes as everyone else but they process it differently.

    Agents are…busy. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

  33. Anonymous on January 14, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    >Writers are addicts. Writing is a life-dominating habit.
    Agents are pimps, hawking their best wares wherever there's a market.
    Publishers are the cops — some people get a pass if the cirumstances are right, whilst others are arrested right away and are never heard of again.

  34. Marla Taviano on January 14, 2011 at 8:50 AM

    >I don't know how to fill in the blanks, but I do know that you (Rachelle) have this gift for taking all my "how in the world am I going to do this???" and giving me clear, thoughtful, makes-perfect-sense guidance.


  35. Huntress on January 14, 2011 at 8:46 AM

    >Writers are self-absorbed deviants who converse with the little voices in their head.

    Agents are self-absorbed deviants who argue with the writers and demand to speak to the voices face to face.

  36. Rachelle on January 14, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    >Good morning! I'm having so much fun reading these. Thanks everyone for your contributions!

  37. Lisa Jordan on January 14, 2011 at 8:24 AM

    >Writers are dreamers who live in imaginary worlds and talk to the voices in their heads while trying to juggle work, family, and everything life throws at them.

    Agents are the gatekeepers who help to bring these imaginary worlds and make believe people to life for others to enjoy while trying to juggle work, family, and everything life throws at them.

    Both are to be appreciated because without each other, they wouldn't have their jobs.

  38. Florence on January 14, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    >Whoever said there are just so many ways to say the same thing had a point. However, at the risk of being redundant, I'd like to add …

    I can never run out of words and ways to use them.

    My ideal dream agent will have a penchant for the economy of words.

    Don't you just love marriages made in heaven? Have a good w/e yourself. 🙂

  39. Timothy Fish on January 14, 2011 at 7:49 AM

    >The writer is an idealist, always believing that the world can be better and that his words can make a difference. He hammers away at the anvil of his mind, shaping words and sentences into the tools of his trade. And what tools they are. Sometimes they are plows and hoes and rakes and shovels, that cultivate the ground of the reader’s mind, giving protection to the tender plants of ideas that spring up while chopping down the wrong thoughts. Sometimes they are swords, knives and battle axes, that are used to fight against the reader’s wrong desires and toppling the strong walls he has built.

    An agent knows nothing of these things and sees writing as business. It frustrates him when the writer doesn’t see it the same way. 15% of nothing doesn’t put food on the table or shoes on the kids’ feet. It bothers him not at all if two of his clients disagree in their ideals as long as they both do their job and sell books. Time and time again, he tells his clients that they need to see writing as a business if they hope to succeed. But they just smile and nod their heads as they lift their hammers and strike the word because the writer is an idealist.

  40. Wendy Paine Miller on January 14, 2011 at 7:36 AM

    >Writers are nuts
    & sometimes agents feel like a nut, and sometimes they don’t.

    It's Friday. I play.

    Have a great weekend!
    ~ Wendy

  41. Timothy Fish on January 14, 2011 at 7:23 AM


    Maybe that explains my ego problems. I use Puffs.

  42. Sharon A. Lavy on January 14, 2011 at 7:11 AM

    >Writers are… a dime a dozen.

    Agents are… elusive.

  43. Becky Taylor on January 14, 2011 at 7:03 AM

    >I love SS and Andrea's comments the best.

    Kleenex–very funny.

    Writers want professional confirmation

    Agents are the (first level) of confirmers (not a word)

  44. Brian Miller on January 14, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    >writers are in love with what they write, at least until they get the edits…ha.

  45. Andrea on January 14, 2011 at 5:51 AM

    >I'm not precisely following the prompt, but I have to share this one from a former professor:

    "Writers have egos the size of balloons…but they can be popped with a Kleenex."

  46. Bonnie R. Paulson on January 14, 2011 at 5:09 AM

    >Writers are persistent.

    Agents are appreciated!

  47. Rosemary Gemmell on January 14, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    >Writers are idealists: chasing their dreams.

    Agents are realists: making the dreams come true.

    In an ideal world!

  48. Martinelli Gold on January 14, 2011 at 3:13 AM

    >I say this as a pregnant woman, both with manuscript and child 😀

  49. Martinelli Gold on January 14, 2011 at 3:10 AM

    >Writers are mommies to their manuscripts. No one else's baby has ever been more beautiful. NO ONE. Their baby will also be president of the new world order.

    Agents are you when you're looking at photos of potato-bodied, raisin faced newborns on Facebook.

    And that is why we get "stock replies" or pure silence 🙂

  50. Jen Albin on January 14, 2011 at 1:42 AM

    >Writers are their own worst enemy. They never finish a book, only drafts.

  51. SS on January 14, 2011 at 1:35 AM

    >Agents are rubber.

    Writers are glue.

  52. Aimee L Salter on January 14, 2011 at 12:50 AM

    >Writers are…creative, emotional minds fuelled by open hearts. Forgive them.

    Agents are…trying to run a business for the creative minds and open hearts. Forgive them too.

  53. Keli Gwyn on January 14, 2011 at 12:44 AM

    >Writers are . . . storytellers.

    Agents are . . . story sellers.

  54. Melissa Buell on January 14, 2011 at 12:07 AM

    >Writers are…hopeless romantics who just KNOW that someone will see the worth in their writing and sign them instantly, crying out, "Where have you been all my life?"

    And then commiserate with other writers on blogs.

    Agents are…realists (that wear all black and live in NYC) who are bothered that so many horribly written query letters infiltrate their in box and must write back, "Please leave me alone for the rest of my life!"

    And then post those horrible queries on Twitter. 😉

    Tongue in cheek, obviously. 🙂