Why Agents Are Sometimes Snarky

Last Wednesday I received an email containing three brief sentences saying that the writer was inquiring about my services, wanted help, and would not tell me anything else until I responded.

I set the email aside thinking that later when I had time, I’d respond with a link to my blog and website, and some standard information about how to query.

Three days later on Saturday, I received another email from the same writer, with the words “no response” in the subject line. The email reprimanded me for failing to acknowledge the first email, declared that I was a fraud and a liar, and that the writer would spread the word about me in “literary circles,” as well as amongst the writer’s friends and organizations and on blogs.

Alrighty then.

Emails from disgruntled writers aren’t unusual. So please forgive agents if we appear a bit frustrated at times, on our blogs or Twitter. We know we’re supposed to brush it off, but sometimes it’s hard.

© 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. eyelashes on March 30, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Making eyes look beautiful with long eye-lashes is a beauty secretes that has survived many generations and will continue to thrive. Browsing your website today and reading your piece shade some lights on that idea and I completely agree. Great site, really loved it.

  2. Phyllis on February 3, 2011 at 12:30 AM

    >Please fix the typo, and it should read: "Agents should be aware that there will be some backlash from writers who feel they have a right to fight back…"

  3. Phyllis on February 3, 2011 at 12:25 AM

    >I think this is happening because of literary agents who receive queries and make fun of them in jokes. The writers feel that they can respond the way that they do to rejections because the literary agents have become unprofessional and this has caused this situation.

    Agents should be aware that there will be some backlash from writers who feel they have the a right to fight back or say what they do when they are rejected because of what they see going on on the internet in regards to queries.

    In general, the profession can't expect to be treated with dignity when they see this going on, no matter that you have never done it. Unfortunately, you can get the fallout of what other agents have done.

  4. Nikole Hahn on February 1, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    >Mmmm…me thinks that writer isn't really serious about a career.

  5. Beth on February 1, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    >@ Timothy:

    Like it or not, there was no real reason for this writer to get so upset with the agent in question. There is no justification for such a babyish outburst.

    The writer failed to follow the simple guidelines in approaching an agent.

    1. There was no query.

    2. There was no synopsis.

    3. There were no sample chapters.

    4. There was no bio information.

    It's practically the equivalent of walking past a doctor's office and then filing a malpractice suite because the doctor didn't run out the door to stop you and see if you were okay.

    This author has no reason to be upset. He wants attention, not help with his writing. He wants to be the center of an agent's attention, even though he has no financial right to demand that attention.

    An agent's job is not to teach writers to write or to fawn at an unproven author's delicately moody feet. Time is money. Would you expect any other professional to provide you with his time free of charge? Hmm?

    This author is little more than a demanding, self-centered, arrogant, and dare I say, aggressive individual. (Please note that not one of those adjectives are synonymous with professional.) No matter how prettily you phrase it, rudeness is just it's ugly self: rudeness. There is no good reason for it, and it is a sad revelation of this author's lack of character. He's also sadly mistaken if he thinks his two-year-old tantrums are likely to induce any agent into a working relationship with him.

    I agree with crt. This author has chosen petty offense. Yes, offense is a choice and not an involuntary reaction. He could choose just as easily to be understanding that the agent he tried to contact was not able to respond, but he didn't want to. Plus, in choosing to be offended, he gave all the power he had over his own feelings to someone else. How comforting it must be to be able to blame someone else entirely for his own lack of maturity.

    I doubt very much that this "author" has been one for any length of time. Anyone who has been through the process of submission and rejection would have to be a total dunce not to have figured out how much time and patience are required to grow as a writer and eventually become published. This guy (or gal) is in the wrong line of work.

    If he can't take a two or three day wait, how will he ever handle the sad fact that no one will probably know or care who he is even if he ever manages to become published?

    P.S. It's a myth that artists are moody. Another one of those choices!

  6. Marjorie on February 1, 2011 at 3:44 PM

    >I really do not understand why so many people here are so startled by the writer's declaration to: "spread the word about me in "literary circles," as well as amongst the writer's friends and organizations and on blogs."

    I would have replied, "Gei Gezunt" which loosely translated means, "have a good time."

    This is the MO of the disgruntled. How many times have angry students run to principals to "get a teacher fired?" How many customer complaint departments hear strong complaints because of trivial matters and customers demand that employees be fired?

    This goes on all the time. PLEASE read this. It gives perspective to the issue.


    Please read that… and understand that everybody who works with the public has to deal with all sorts of vindictive personalities.

    You cannot be ruined in literary circles because false statements without merit is slander or libel. But, everybody is entitled to an opinion… so just ignore this stuff and be delighted it infrequently happens.

    Some people on the job deal with this stuff every day. And they deal with not just the threat of it, but the reality.

    What I don't get is why so many commenters here are so shocked.

  7. Courtney Walsh on February 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM

    >What? Seriously? I think what Wendy said is right on. People feel so entitled these days…about everything. Kudos to you for not lashing out…HOW did you not?

  8. R.D. Allen on February 1, 2011 at 1:15 AM

    >I wish people like that would just keep to themselves. I mean, they give us writers a bad name. You shouldn't have to deal with someone who treats you like that! I can't believe how irresponsible some people will treat a perfectly nice, patient professional, especially when the whole point of being a successful writer is that you should be good with words!

    I hope I never make an agent/publisher/editor feel like that must have made you feel!

    To be honest, if I encountered someone like that, I would never be as classy as you by keeping my words to myself. haha~

  9. Anna L. Walls on January 31, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    >Well obviously this writer considered him/herself so important that a busy agent should drop everything and answer his/her every whim. He/she will grow up someday. We all know the truth.

  10. Alicia on January 31, 2011 at 11:19 PM

    >I couldn't help laughing out loud when I read that. I really thought it was a joke at first. And you were even going to respond..with helpful links. You are so much nicer than I ever would be…I guess that's why I'm not an agent.

  11. Beth K. Vogt on January 31, 2011 at 11:02 PM

    >Some of us don't like the word "snarky." Some of us are all for it–the word and the 'tude.
    But, this one thing is clear: You were not snarky in your response to the writer. Truth is–you didn't have a chance to respond. Your blog post wasn't even a response–just kind of a peek into your inbox. And an explanation why you probably want to push the delete key.

  12. KC Frantzen on January 31, 2011 at 10:56 PM

    >Dear Rachelle,

    We don't know each other but please… accept a virtual (((hug))).


  13. Beatriz Kim on January 31, 2011 at 8:57 PM

    >First point:
    Does it matter who it is or what they do? Rude behavior is unacceptable.

    Second point:
    If you don't want to write a query, don't become a writer. If I refused to write notes, after seeing patients, I would lose my job.

    Third point:
    I don't see why you would bother responding to someone who couldn't be bothered to do their part.

    Fourth point:
    Do something wonderful for yourself! You're obviously a super nice person! Have a wonderful night!

  14. Simon Hay Soul Healer on January 31, 2011 at 8:27 PM

    >There are some strange people around. When I was a kid if you were rude or disrespectful you got an arse whooping! Let's bring that back! That would be more entertaining than a form rejectiion. I'd like to be an arse-whooping intern. Happy writing everyone, and happy agenting.

  15. Angela C. on January 31, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    >oh man! that's pretty brutal. you can't please everyone. 🙂

  16. Marjorie on January 31, 2011 at 7:29 PM

    >Thanks, Carol. I wanted to make sure you understood that when I said a professional doesn't react, I meant not to react emotionally to provocations in visible and angry ways or to respond in unprofessional ways.

    Of course there are consequences in place for students who break the rules and when parents are confrontational, they have consequences as well (like being banned from a school or arrested). But, no parent should ever have a teacher retaliate by actions or words.

    I think what you mean is that it is sad that students and parents feel they can behave this way… and yes, it is sad, but there are many reasons for it.

    And why does it even happen? Because the teacher gets blamed for everything and is the scapegoat. They know the teacher can do very little, and in NYC today yelling is considered corporal punishment. So the teacher really has to just stand there and take much abuse.

    I better stop, I tend to get long winded and then they say I am hijacking the post. Please feel free to E-mail me. And please read the links I posted above. They may help you to understand what goes on. Please read about the student who was in a fight, had his ear injured, and he told his grandma the teacher pinched it.

  17. Anonymous on January 31, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    >The person just sounds kind of crazy. I'm telling you, everybody and their deceased great grandfather is trying to write a book. THAT's crazy. I'm shocked that there are SO many people trying to get published. Apparently a good percentage of them are skewing toward the nutty side and this is the fruit of it.

    Agents and publishers…beware…

  18. Carol J. Garvin on January 31, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    >Thanks, Marjorie, for clarifying your comment. I appreciate that you also e-mailed me to make sure I found your explanation.

    I think perhaps my reaction to your initial comment stemmed from your opening, "…during my long career I learned that a professional stoically absorbs a lot of poor behavior from others and as a professional learns not to react. That's what a professional learns to do and does and should do. Deadpan. Mannequin it out." I took that to mean you expected the professional to neither act nor react, but I now understand what you were trying to say.

    It's a sad commentary on humanity that we have to condition ourselves to expect and deal with such behaviour at all, isn't it?

  19. crt on January 31, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    >On the lighter side if I were an agent getting that type of email my response would be:

    "So can I scratch you from my potential client list?"

  20. crt on January 31, 2011 at 4:26 PM

    >Timothy what reason do you see for this kind of reaction from the writer?

    In my mind there is quite a difference between businesses versus the publishing industry.

    What would you do if a business were to call you up, and demand that you buy their product. If you don't they'll attempt to blacklist you among other companies.

    Would you not think that is a mite ridiculous? You can't blame that on the poor economy, but rather a poor sales person.

    Just like a customer is never forced to buy a product, neither is an agent forced to look at anything we submit. All we can do as writers, is write well, and be respectful to the business side of writing.

    Frankly when we go down our own path. Ignoring all the information, and guidelines that are right there in plain sight; we are begging to be posterized and laughed at.

  21. kathy taylor on January 31, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    >I think I worked for that guy once.

  22. Katherine Swarts on January 31, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    >Not that I excuse the writer, either, but the principle of "easier to be rude and judgmental with someone you've never met face to face" also applies when they were rude first. I've myself sent out, on a bad day, the occasional e-mail that I subsequently wished I could take back; however, the two I remember best achieved that status more through return rudeness than by my own embarrassment:

    1. The "free subscription" print periodical I disliked from the start and became openly impatient with after three unsuccessful requests to remove my name from the mailing list. They apparently did take me off after that, but the publisher also sent me an e-mail saying, "You are not the only one who is now annoyed. You are rude and irrational…. Perhaps you should give the magazine to a public office, where many people could read and enjoy it. I hope for you all the best in the tunnel in which you live." (That magazine is no longer in print. I subsequently heard–no joke–that there was a felony warrant out for the publisher's arrest.)

    2. The generally well-mannered and professional member of my e-group who started his reply to a "hurry up with that information" message of mine with "That was an extremely rude and presumptuous e-mail." I don't remember the original point of contention, but I still think of that sentence every time I hear his name.

    Personally, I think a blog or tweet is the perfect place to vent frustration. Provided you don't name names, and providing the vent doesn't turn into an all-out rant-and-rave.

  23. Anonymous on January 31, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    >Yeah, it’s all about them. You are not allowed to have a life.

  24. Kristin Laughtin on January 31, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    >Three days is hardly an appropriate amount of time to complain about "no response" in any business, unless it offers same- or next-day service. I'm pretty sure you've never advertised that, nor is it an industry standard!

  25. Ben on January 31, 2011 at 2:14 PM

    >Don't feel bad. He's an idiot who wanted to be treated like he was special.

  26. Laura-Cedar Fort on January 31, 2011 at 2:11 PM

    >I'm not sure where the author gets the idea that he can call you a "fraud" since you hadn't entered into any kind of agreement or even promised him anything. Oh well. Hopefully the people in his "literary circles" will help him understand the differences between queries and contracts.

  27. Rachelle on January 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    >I'm glad others have mentioned that this happens everywhere – in every industry – because it does. We're all human, and guess what, we all have to deal with other humans!

    Marjorie is right – we all have to learn to "handle it." While my emotional gut reaction might be to lash out at people like this, I never do. Another gut reaction is to post the entire email, name and all, on my blog. But I don't do that either.

    My point was not to argue that we are allowed to treat people with rudeness and disrespect just because they do that to us. I simply wanted you to know the kinds of things that happen regularly to agents, just as many other people deal with in their own jobs. We all deal with disrespect at some point.

    And no, we don't all get our response exactly right every time!

  28. crow productions on January 31, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    >It reminds me of the audition portion of American Idol. People obsess over their talent no matter how limited it might be.

  29. Natalie on January 31, 2011 at 1:24 PM

    >Hi Rachelle!

    I worked in Retail for awhile and got the same treatment =( What I realized is that for every

    Abrupt, abusive, bad-mannered, barbaric, blunt, boorish, brusque, brutish, churlish, coarse, crabbed, crude, curt, discourteous, graceless, ignorant, impertinent, impolite, impudent, inconsiderate, insolent, insulting, loutish, low, obscene, savage, scurrilous, surly, uncivil, uncouth, uncultured, uneducated, ungracious, unmannerly, unpolished, unrefined, and vulgar

    customer, there were 30 who made my day.

    Everything was ok as long as I didn't lower myself by being rude back. If I did, they would be justified in their behavior. As for venting on blogs or Twitter… totally understandable.

    Take care

  30. Whitney Bailey on January 31, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    >I think Erin MacPherson's comment hit the nail on the head. It is one thing to be clueless, it is another to be just plain rude. Cluelessness can be forgiven and even understood but I will never understand outright nastiness.

    Yes, if we were perfect we would respond each time to another's rudeness with grace and dignity. But I think Rachelle's point may be (and I apologize if I am wrong) that if you are bombarded with it day after day, even the best of us can crack under the deluge.

  31. Marjorie on January 31, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    >A reply to Carol:

    You misunderstood. I meant you handle your personal emotions. I did not mean that there are no consequences for the behavior. I meant that you do not react and get all "snarky." You HANDLE IT according to the school's written code of discipline in place.

    You do not scream and yell; you remain unemotional and in a monotone state: "This is not acceptable and it is being referred to administration" or "You have made a poor inappropriate choice and there are consequences."

    You never get "snarky" and respond in a similar way. You suck it up and of course refer for consequences.

  32. Lori on January 31, 2011 at 1:00 PM

    >This strikes a nerve with all of us, doesn't it? Thanks for posting it.

    Seems to me, as an unpublished author, that the snark is the same fatigue that Marjorie the ex-teacher mentioned–anyone dealing with the front lines of the public gets tired of having the same conversation all the time; particularly when you spend a lot of energy trying to develop a website to make it easier for the public to reach you.

    For every entitled, aggressive query you get, I'd bet there are at least two introverts who haven't sent theirs yet, stuck obsessing over how keep from coming across like that.

    At the end of the day, we all have to tuck our anxieties and frustrations inside and try to look at the work itself.

  33. Timothy Fish on January 31, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    I have no intention of trying to justify the behavior, but neither should we assume it is without cause. If a murderer were a character in a novel, would we not examine the reasons why he carried out the deed? Just because we consider the possibility of a woman killing her abortion doctor after learning she can no longer have children doesn’t mean that we are justifying her actions. But neither does it mean we are holding the abortion doctor blameless. It is often helpful to examine the cause of an extreme action in order to identify problems that need to be fixed.

    I believe that is the case here. While the way the author handled the frustration is extreme, the cause of the frustration is something that needs to be fixed. The problem isn’t localized to literary agents or the publishing industry, but the current trend is that businesses don’t reply, even when they post contact information prominently on their websites.

  34. Kelly Combs on January 31, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    >p.s. I'm currently reading The ME Project by your client Kathi Lipp, and really enjoying it! Thanks!

  35. Kelly Combs on January 31, 2011 at 12:34 PM

    >THREE DAYS? What industry is this person in, expecting a response that quickly? Surely not writing. And who's to say that you hadn't had a family emergency that week and were out of the office? I know I prewrite & auto-publish my blog, so seeing blogs continue to publish are not an indicator that I am available at that time.

    I'm sure it can be hard to brush it off when people are so vindictive. Taking the high road is never easy.

    Best wishes, Rachelle!

  36. Carol J. Garvin on January 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    >I was getting ready to comment that there's never an excuse for rudeness… that this is a business, for goodness sakes, and the e-mailer used a very inappropriate way to initiate a potential working relationship. Then I came to Marjorie's comment.

    "So, it may be hard to "brush off" the behavior of the disgruntled, but guess what? As a professional, you HANDLE IT. You don't retaliate or get personally offended. And if it is "hard," get some tips on coping skills." As a retired teacher this comment scared me. In my school the kind of abusive behaviour by students and parents that she mentions wouldn't have been tolerated. "Handling" outrageous behaviour doesn't mean brushing it off or ignoring it. That's what gives permission to the perpetrators to believe their foul words or threatening actions are acceptable. Ignoring them can, in the extreme, lead to shootings in the school and workplace by the disgruntled. Yes, you handle it, but by tact and diplomacy and positive action. ::taking a deep breath now, and winding down::

    Your plan for responding to that e-mail was positive and appropriate. It's not your fault that the sender was too impatient to benefit by your intended reply.

  37. Jessica Thomas on January 31, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    >Wow, someone was feeling a tad grumpy. I'm sure said grumpy person will do much damage to your reputation in those writerly circles. Er…yeah…

  38. Huntress on January 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM


    But I have no apologies for another’s idiocies. They need to do their own apologizing. There are no excuses for rudeness, none. Not now, not ever.

    In contacting agents, I refer to the scene between Miyagi and Daniel, “Look eye. Always look eye”

    Respect without groveling; it’s a winner in every situation.

  39. Jaime on January 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    >Well, that's proof THAT emailer didn't have their morning coffee. 😛 When I send something out, I just start sucking coffee and figure they're down theirs and someday perhaps we'll connect again 🙂

  40. Dara on January 31, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    >I think that writer will be in for a nasty surprise when he/she realizes they are essentially tarnishing their name by doing that.

    Oh and guess what? You're most certainly allowed to vent about it. You aren't telling their name and spreading rumors about them. Forget those who tell you that you aren't supposed to vent about it.

  41. Catherine on January 31, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    >Agents are people, too. I get that. And writers can be demanding and melodramatic and reactionary. I'm SURE you get that.

    Those of us who are sane and professional can understand. Aren't we the ones that really matter?


  42. David R. Slayton on January 31, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    >Hang in there! Thank you for not fighting his lack of courtesy with a lack of courtesy or crazy with crazy.

    Reading this post is good for me as I go through the query process. I took a rejection hard this morning (probably shouldn't read the email before the coffee has settled in), and this reminds me that writers and agents both go through a lot with this process.

  43. Marjorie on January 31, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    >Well, guess what? I have a strong opinion.

    I was a teacher in NYC for many many years, and during my long career I learned that a professional stoically absorbs a lot of poor behavior from others and as a professional learns not to react. That's what a professional learns to do and does and should do. Deadpan. Mannequin it out.

    As a teacher, I saw many teachers verbally abused by students. How many times did a student tell me to (expletives deleted) when I simply asked to see homework. OK, they were students, so of course we should not react.

    However, how many angry parents would show up and be confrontational, and appear physically threatening, because they were dissatisfied with poor grades? How many teachers were told they would be assaulted ("messed" up, but another word was used) at 3:00 because a student went home and did not tell the truth and blamed the teacher for an incident?


    And what about principals who unfairly rated teachers because of personal agendas?


    I would think everybody who deals with the public has to be prepared to handle the poor behavior of the irate: Just ask sales people all the way to uniform workers and all jobs in between.

    So, it may be hard to "brush off" the behavior of the disgruntled, but guess what? As a professional, you HANDLE IT. You don't retaliate or get personally offended. And if it is "hard," get some tips on coping skills.

    And guess what again? You handle it every single day until the day you no longer want the job. I handled it for 35 years and so did all my colleagues.

    And the poor mailman down the street has a few scars from dog bites to show his hazards of the job.

  44. CraftyMama on January 31, 2011 at 11:00 AM

    >Mercy! Artists always moody, and writers are always impatient. And since writers are a type of artist, that makes them moody and impatient. 😉 Sorry you had such a frustrating experience!

  45. Emily on the Southern Prairie on January 31, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    >I agree with folks who said this smacks of entitlement on the part of the writer who emailed you. Don’t feel bad. You really did nothing wrong and no one with common sense would hold this scenario against you.

  46. Sean on January 31, 2011 at 10:52 AM

    >This so called “writer” is an affront to the rest of us trying to get an agent through proper guidelines. They are also probably the same person who cut to the front of the line I was waiting in to see Yogi Bear over the weekend. And I actually went to the trouble of dressing up like Ranger Smith too! I kid. I dressed up as Boo-Boo.Thnaks for everything you do for us writers on this blog, Rachelle! My “literary circle” loves you. Even though it’s just me and a beta reader named Tony who lives in my right index finger.

  47. Rachelle on January 31, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    >Dyrinda: Actually my guidelines say I ONLY accept email queries – no snail mail.But my guidelines also say I’m closed to queries right now.

  48. Casey on January 31, 2011 at 10:49 AM

    >That’s “k”now. Sorry. 🙂

  49. Casey on January 31, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    >Ooo, ouch. I think I now why agents can feel thus now. Rest assured you only have my utmost respect. 🙂 May other writers after seeing this now be ever more aware and far from guilty of such an offense!

  50. Fawn Neun on January 31, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    >Writers are kinda crazy. I mean, it’s an occupational hazard, or the source of creativity, and who knows what comes first, the chicken or the egg. But writers are kinda nuts.

  51. Anonymous on January 31, 2011 at 10:46 AM

    >I believe that there are two issues involved with rude writers and rude agents.First, after spending several years working in the mental health field, I finally realized that when a stranger behaves in a rude or aggressive manner with little or no provocation, it’s NEVER about me personally.Second, aside from mental illness, I believe that the Internet depersonalizes interactions to a certain extent. People who wouldn’t be rude to your face are rude to you in an email.Those are my two theories, anyway, and I find them rather comforting whenever I read something decidedly unpleasant.

  52. kangaroobee on January 31, 2011 at 10:41 AM


  53. Shari Green on January 31, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    >Stories like this always surprise and disappoint me. What a shame you have to deal with that! Thank you for working so hard for writers despite emails like that one. All the sane ones among us think you’re awesome and truly appreciate all you do!

  54. Dyrinda on January 31, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    >And don’t you say upfront in your guidelines you don’t accept e-mail queries? It was kind of you to even open the e-mail.In newspapers, on the other hand, a week just isn’t complete with complaints and the occasional death threat. Gotta love the public.

  55. Erin MacPherson on January 31, 2011 at 10:30 AM

    >Hi Rachelle– Sheesh. That DOES warrent some snark! After reading these comments, I want to point out that there is a HUGE difference between being rude and not knowing what you’re talking about. For example, I had NO clue about the publishing process when I started querying. I was naive and stupid and didn’t research enough, so I probably asked dumb questions (I’m pretty sure I asked YOU what a proposal WAS) and probably wasted agent’s time. And everyone was REALLY nice to me. But being naive and being mean are entirely different things and I’d like to assume that writers who are simply naive and don’t understand the process are met with a lot kinder response than those who are just rude and snarky.

  56. Gary Baker on January 31, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    >You there – agent person:Go to my blog.Buy my books.Read them.Love them.Get me a movie deal with an obscene advance.Do it now… or not. Either way’s cool .. Sorry to have bothered you .. I’ll let myself out …

  57. Karen Sundstrom on January 31, 2011 at 10:04 AM

    >I can’t figure out why some people think it’s okay to treat people they haven’t met like this. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. If you’re seeking someone out to represent you, I figure you’d want to put your best foot forward and give them time to respond to the email. I also feel you handled this with great decorum, Rachelle. And I appreciate your candor in sharing this with all of us. I’m still a babe in the woods when it comes to the writing business and finding your blog has been a god-send to me. From just the few blog posts I’ve read so far, I can tell you are a well of information about how the publishing industry works. That’s why I put you on my blogroll for my writing friends to also discover your informative blog.

  58. Anonymous on January 31, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    >I just got a rejection from an agent on a requested ms that seemed a bit snarky and it was all I could do not to reply back with an even snarkier (is that a word?) response…but why bother? Now I know never to submit to that person again. Maybe it’s better to deal directly with editors and publishers anyway.

  59. Neurotic Workaholic on January 31, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    >Wow. That writer who reprimanded you has a lot of nerve, and it sounds like this person is really arrogant too. If this is how this writer communicates with other agents, I’m willing to bet that he or she will never get published.

  60. crt on January 31, 2011 at 9:46 AM

    >Very funny. One has to wonder what the writer is going to say to the “literary circles” about you. “I sent her an email asking for help and nothing. I even waited two whole days, and a little bit of Saturday. What a crook.”It’s kind of like American Idol where the people come in thinking they sing like some famous singer, then proceed to sound worse than my cat when it wants outside. They walk away steamed because the judge’s told’em no.Timothy no way you can justify that kind of attitude. It doesn’t matter if they’d been ignored by several others or not. The only way you can sort of defend it is if the writer was a client. Still I would say it’s awful demanding.

  61. L.A. Colvin on January 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    >I think we need to remember that in the end this is a job. Unless your already filthy rich and could care less if your published. As with any job, it’s not a good idea to go to the boss and demand their attention and action on your time table. A little diplomacy and patience goes a long way.

  62. Jenna on January 31, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    >I love how you give a glimpes of ‘the other side’! Keep up the great work, Rachelle. You’ve handled this with grace and thoughtfulness.

  63. Beth on January 31, 2011 at 9:41 AM

    >Honestly, Rachelle, I feel so sorry for you and all the other hardworking literary agents out there. Unfortunately, there are a lot of nut cases out there in the writing world who think the planet revolves around them and think everyone else should think so too. Sad but true.

  64. MJR on January 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    >You’re nice to even consider responding to this person. I would have deleted the email. There’s plenty of info about agents online, in agent guide books, etc. Ugh….

  65. Wendy Paine Miller on January 31, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    >Sarah hit on something I notice in this writer, a sense of entitlement. I see it everywhere. I was blown away at one of the little girls who attended my DD’s slumber party. Anything she asked for, she was certain I’d go get. I wanted to sit her down and tell her this mama don’t play that way, but I let it go.I still remember a blog post where Chip threw out the word acerbic. I know I can get a little sarcastic when people shock me with their inappropriate behavior.Another key reason why we need to be careful not to act on our emotions (re: teaching us to fish post).~ Wendy

  66. Jen J. Danna on January 31, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    >Well, that was totally uncalled for. Clearly this is someone who doesn’t understand how swamped you are at all times and who apparently thinks that his/her time is more valuable than yours. Not client material, that’s for sure. It’s easy for me to suggest you just brush it off, but it’s still irritating for you. On behalf of writer’s everywhere, let me apologize for that one’s very bad behaviour.

  67. Jessica DeHart on January 31, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    >what an arrogant putz! Like you’d really want a client like that! Really!

  68. Norma Beishir on January 31, 2011 at 9:10 AM

    >I used to be a pain in the butt, but I was never THAT bad!

  69. Choices on January 31, 2011 at 9:07 AM

    >We all get frustrated. Thank you for being human and sharing how you feel.Smiles to you.

  70. Richard Mabry on January 31, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    >It always amazes me that some people don’t have a bit of common sense, yet they manage to turn on a computer, log on to the internet, and do a great deal of damage. This is just one more example.Sheesh!

  71. Rachelle on January 31, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    >Arlee: I’m bored of the word “snarky” too.Jill & Chuck: Of course I “forgive” the writers out there who haven’t learned publishing protocol yet, and those who are frustrated with agents. I guess that’s part of my point here. We all need to forgive each other for our humanness and get on with things.Timothy: As humans we’re sometimes quick to judge, that’s just the way we are, and we also get frustrated, which leads some people to express themselves online (as “snark.”) If I thought it was okay or justifiable to do this, I wouldn’t be saying “please forgive us.” Writers often tell me, “If you knew what it was like for us, how frustrated and beat down we sometimes feel, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge writers for their sometimes-innappropriate responses online.” I’m simply shedding light on what it’s like for agents and asking for a little grace for our human, though not appropriate, responses.

  72. Sharon Bially on January 31, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    >It’s a tough business filled with uncertainty and frustrations on both sides. Sometimes snark is, well…only human!But rest assured, other fields have their share of uncertainty and snark!!Not that that’s an excuse for it to continue anywhere. Ideally we’d all try our hardest to remain respectful and professional.

  73. RobynBradley on January 31, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    >I actually love me a good dose of snark. The very first agent blog I ever read was Miss Snark (love her, miss her, but suspect she’s reincarnated and is blogging again amongst us). I learned so much from that blog, and her snarkiness was always justified, IMO.

  74. Timothy Fish on January 31, 2011 at 8:04 AM

    >Why are we so quick to judge this person without thought to his motivation for doing what he did. We’re writers, are we not? It should be as easy as breathing to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. We treat our characters better and we’re sadists when it comes to them.I’m not saying that this writer reacted correctly but I can see where frustration could tempt a writer to act in that way. Unless we have a working relationship with the person, it is certainly unreasonable to expect a response in so short a time. For all we know, the person could be on vacation, but a history of no responses builds the feeling that if someone doesn’t respond within a short time the person is not going to respond at all.The bigger question is, does this kind of situation justify snarky comments? I don’t believe so. No matter how some writers might treat agents, the proliferation of snarky comments from literary agents does nothing more than encourage the belief that agents just sit around laughing at writers. The fact that someone or many people behave incorrectly does not justify us doing the same.

  75. Heather Webb on January 31, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    >Wow, that really makes you want to help writers, doesn’t it? I guess these types are missing the point that you don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Or maybe they’re just missing marbles. People never cease to amaze me in their ingratitude. Luckily, there are helpful folks out there, like you, to balance the equation!

  76. Kristi on January 31, 2011 at 7:30 AM

    >Wow. All I can say is thank you for being thoughtful enough to actually consider helping this poor soul who is obviously clueless.I think I’d get pretty snarky after a few of these two.

  77. Joy Nicholas on January 31, 2011 at 7:27 AM

    >Wow… My response to the first part of the story was, “Gee, that was dumb. Has this person done *no* research??!!” And then to the second part of the story, “WHAT?!?!” I have to wonder what kind of “literary circles” this person is a part of, but I certainly wouldn’t worry if I were you. The 3,691 people who follow this blog know how helpful you are.I guess this goes to show that common sense and courtesy are kind of rare these days. And, once again, that rude people stink.

  78. Terri Tiffany on January 31, 2011 at 7:23 AM

    >I am so sorry. I can imagine how that would hurt and no one should be treated that way.:(

  79. Lisa Jordan on January 31, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    >Sometimes it’s hard because *gasp* you’re human! You have a heart, and those who know you and love you can see how much you pour into your job, your family, your clients.People like the emailer need to step outside of their self-centered circles and realize life is not all about them.

  80. Tami Boesiger on January 31, 2011 at 6:46 AM

    >Obviously that writer doesn’t read your blog or they would know how much valuable information you give on a daily basis. Oh brother.

  81. Katie Ganshert on January 31, 2011 at 6:21 AM

    >I think that email warrants some snark. Jeesh!

  82. Jeffrey Beesler on January 31, 2011 at 5:48 AM

    >Agents are only human too? Who would’ve thought? Honestly, the way some people treat agents is the same way some people treat service workers in the fast food or retail industry. People someone get the idea in their heads that it’s okay to treat people as anything less than human. What people tend to forget is that respect is a two way street.Kudos to what you and all literary agents put up with as advocates for authors.

  83. Roza M on January 31, 2011 at 5:26 AM

    >We are all human. We all feel. Sure some might get a little more frustrated then others, but you can only hold back so much before we burst. I am sure some agents think I am some kind of crazed stalker, because my Crackberry <--- Yes I know it's a blackberry, but it's a POS now and it has a mind of it's own. Anywhoo, my crackberry resent emails out to agents I've already been rejected by. So mortified.Good news you weren't on my list, because you don't represent my genre. =)

  84. Rosemary Gemmell on January 31, 2011 at 3:44 AM

    >I can’t see that writer ever being taken seriously by anyone in the business. He is hoist with his own petard of rudeness, impatience and arrogance.And no one would believe any slander against you, Rachelle, after one look at your blog!

  85. Amie Kaufman on January 31, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    >For what it’s worth, there are a lot of us writers who are also spreading the word about you in our own literary circles–and the word is ‘awesome’.

  86. Keli Gwyn on January 31, 2011 at 2:40 AM

    >So, if you’re a “fraud,” does that mean the contract you negotiated for me was a joke? Looked mighty real to me.In my book, the fact that you’re one of the top ten agents on the Deals List for Publishers Marketplace for the last 12 months goes a long way toward proving what kind of agent you are.I’m sorry you and the other publishing professionals have to deal with disgruntled writers who hit “send” without thinking of the person on the other end.

  87. Sarah on January 31, 2011 at 2:32 AM

    >Oy. We seem to live in an era where everyone believes they are entitled to whatever they demand. I’m sorry that you have to deal with that and I can imagine that it would grow wearying after a while. I guess us writers are a little wacko at times. :/In our defense, so is much of the human race!

  88. Arlee Bird on January 31, 2011 at 2:29 AM

    >Fair enough reason in that particular case. Sounds like a pretty self-centered spoiled writer who lacks experience, but believes he/she is a genious who demands recognition now. I’m kind of bored with the word “snarky” though.LeeTossing It Out and the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge 2011

  89. Chuck Tyrell on January 31, 2011 at 1:27 AM

    >You must forgive us writers, as Jill mentioned. I too tried to find an agent (after so many rejections that I quit trying) and sold to publishers direct. Most American publishers (editors?) too months to respond. In one case, a year and a half. Then a British publishing house answered in snailmail time within a month. Speed itself. Now the same publisher (and some of USA’s “younger” publishers) answer in days. That may be why I have 10 novels published or accepted without an agent. Forgive. Please.

  90. Phil on January 31, 2011 at 12:47 AM

    >@Aimee – Ha! Frightening how well you got into the mindset of your average crazy slushpile fanatic.Man, no wonder agents require a strict adherence to querying guidelines. It’s the first and best line of defense against such abuse. From a writer’s POV those very requirements might seem arbitrary and overly restrictive, but when you start hearing these horror stories… man oh man do they make sense.

  91. Sarah on January 31, 2011 at 12:42 AM

    >Wow. Just wow.

  92. Aimee L Salter on January 31, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    >For the humorless among us: that was a joke.

  93. Aimee L Salter on January 31, 2011 at 12:12 AM

    >Rachelle,Tomorrow I’m going to send you an empty present. I’m not going to tell you what’s in the present until you send me a thank you note outlining how grateful you were to receive it. If you DON’T show your gratitude within twelve hours, I’m going to shred the present (a metaphor for how you’ve shredded my heart) and throw it over wordserve literary like so much writerly confetti.Oh, and I’ll tell everyone how stinking ungrateful you are.Sincerely,Aimee

  94. Melissa K Norris on January 31, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    >I think it would be wise to remember that we catch more flies with honey. You shouldn't ever threaten anyone if you want to portray yourself as a professional. Goodness.

    I sympathize with you Rachelle. I thought even sending them back an email with links to your blog and articles was above and beyond.

    Gotta love this business. 🙂

  95. Jill on January 31, 2011 at 12:10 AM

    >Please, please, forgive us writers, too.

  96. caleb j seeling on January 31, 2011 at 12:06 AM

    >Good one Rachelle. Not just agents either…editors can tell the same story.