Thursday, August 27, 2009

Agents and Editors Debate



Eating Babies!

Yesterday editor Cheryl Klein announced on Twitter that she had A Modest Proposal she'd like agents to consider.

Being a voyeur, and wondering if it was about eating babies, I trucked over to her blog to see what's up.

Turns out, editors have an issue when an agent starts accepting offers for a book in the blink of an eye and asks other editors to throw their hats in the ring with only 2-3 days notice. To resolve this, and make sure that the editor whose offer is chosen is the best for the book and not just the one with the fastest trigger finger, she asks if agents would consider not accepting offers for 4-8 weeks to give editors time to collect the proper support from their publishing houses and do their thang.

Okay, close your mouths everyone, and wipe that drool off your chins ;).

I know this is every aspiring author's DREAM to hear stuff like this. I think it falls under the catagory of "word nerd porn." But it gets more interesting from here!

Agent Michael Bourret of Dystel & Goderich Literary Mangement rebutted with some thoughts of his own, namely:

a) This is all well and good, but we don't want to offend anyone by declining their pre-emptive offer. We have relationships with editors to maintain.

b) Fast editors are the ones that are usually the most enthusiastic about the book, and therefore the most desirable for the author.

c) Waiting longer makes authors sad pandas :(.

In response to his response, Cheryl said that, yes, thank you, it would totally work if all agents set up the timeframe ahead of time. Then editors would be able to gather support in their houses properly, get the excitement brewing, which benefits the authors. Then there isn't a mad lemming-esque rush to the auction by people who will ignore the author once all the fuss settles down.

In response to her response to his response, Michael said that while awesome in theory, all agents couldn't be expected to participate. Also there is the slight issue of editors procrastinating and waiting until the very end of the 4-8 weeks to even read the manuscript. In which case it's the same as the no notice, and authors are still sad, sad pandas :(.

Agent Nathan Bransford also put in his .02 on the time publishing takes, making the point that just because an agent has quick response times to queries doesn't mean they are neglecting their clients. Perhaps this is in response to agent Jessica Faust's post yesterday on how to tell if your agent is a jerk before you sign on?

So that leaves us..... where? I'm not really sure.

As authors or aspiring-authors, what do you guys think of Cheryl's "Modest Proposal?"

Would you be willing to wait the 4-8 weeks to narrow down on your Dream Editor if you book went to auction, or would you be worried about procrastination and lack of interest without the rush?

The most interesting part is reading the comments--seriously! Agents and editors abound and share their opinions on the matter.

Also, do you judge agents based on their response times to queries?

Is faster necessarily better?

I'd love to hear what you think!


Scott said...

Nathan posted about this on his blog as well.

I really don't judge the agents on their response times. I mean, after following so many blogs, I know agents are just overwhelmed with queries. So, I practice my patience and . . . wait, wait, wait.

Is faster better? Well, it depends on whether the fastness is regarding acceptance or rejection. : )


Lisa and Laura said...

I really enjoyed watching this debate progress via Twitter and blogs. I'm not sure what the answer is, but I understand both sides of the argument. As an author on submission we're of course hoping for an auction, and there's something a little glamourous and exciting about having it happen very fast, you know?