One of my biggest pet peeves as an agent is dealing with an author with an ego problem. This is the author who gripes about everything, never has time to spare for an interview, let alone a question from a peon, and treats those who “work” for him or her like they should be worshipping the ground that he or she walks on, because clearly, he or she is THE only author who matters.
For a long time now, this is all I’ve been focusing on. And then, this week, it hit me: I am becoming that AGENT.
No, not the agent of the author with the ego problem; the AGENT with the ego problem.
Yes, you heard me – I, NATALIE FISCHER, AM DEVELOPING AN EGO PROBLEM.
I’ve seen the signs: tweeting snarky comments about queries, secretly relishing the ability to hit “delete” due to our agency’s “no response if not interested” policy, avoiding interaction with authors as much as possible at conferences, and my personal rejections getting more and more vague.
All in the name of “time-saving,” I convinced myself. I’m not a “new” agent anymore; I have SO many more responsibilities.
There ARE many things going on in my life right now; I’m recently engaged and dealing with a transition (to be announced…). And part of these “signs” ARE indeed part of seasoning; after all, if I can find a seat at a conference dinner next to someone who isn’t going to pitch me the whole time, and rather let me eat and enjoy conversation, then yeah, I’m going to opt for that.
But part of me is also forgetting what it feels like to be the author. What it feels like to be humiliated by a mistake.
It took a mistake of my own to realize it, and I sincerely thank the author who called me out on it (I read a submission quickly, and, long story short, rejected her manuscript based on the competition of other Nazi occupation books when her book has zero to do with that. Doh.)
That, to me, is unacceptable. A rushed response is NOT better than a delayed, helpful one. In fact, it’s worse: I’ve HARMED myself by rushing that response. It was a waste of both my time, and the author’s.
Yes, there are bitter people who will respond to me angrily no matter WHAT I say or do; but that’s not my problem. Forgetting to be as helpful as possible and as gracious and professional as I can IS.
So I am challenging myself. I am challenging myself to NOT forget where I came from. To keep my heart and ears open to criticism, and change. And to respect the restraints of growth with dignity, rather than scrambling to find excuses or ways around them.
Who knows…maybe my post will inspire one of you to take this challenge, and not become the angry self-centered author, too.
Or so this peon can only hope. ;)