by R.C. Lewis
I've been on Twitter for a few years now, almost exclusively for the writing/publishing side of my life. If you've been around the Write Angle for a while, you know several of us are big fans of Twitter as part of a writer's social media package. Jemi Fraser recently did three different posts on great Twitter hashtags for writers, and Calista Taylor laid out the basics in Twitter 101.
You can get amazing things from Twitter—camaraderie of other writers, news on industry trends and events, and insider tips straight from agents and editors. Amidst all that, you also get what people are eating for lunch, who's coming down with a cold, and complaints about weather/mass transit/utility companies/anything else that can be annoying. Part and parcel.
Here's a small subset of the tweets out there—writers snarking at those industry insiders, especially agents.
They come in several forms, but the underlying sentiment always seems the same. Agents are evil, money-grubbing, elitist jerks. They only want crap from celebrities anyway. They won't take a chance on anyone new.
Now, hang on.
There's nothing wrong with going it alone, whether by self-publishing or working with publishers who take unagented submissions. Many writers find that's the right course for them. For others, the efforts of querying and securing representation are worth it.
Whichever course we choose to take (or maybe both!), why sling hate at the other?
By and large, agents work hard. They often hold down other jobs to pay the bills, essentially working for free on the hope that the books they believe in will sell. I certainly couldn't do what my agent does (fair enough, since I'm pretty sure she couldn't teach my math classes, either).
I imagine there are some agents who are jerks. After all, you can find a jerk or two in just about any group of people. And yes, we have the right to be ourselves and say what we want.
But what possible good comes from being rude (and even at times downright hateful) toward anyone in an industry we hope to be considered professionals in?
No matter what the industry is doing, and no matter our course within it, behaving like a professional will always be in fashion. The same goes for more than agents—editors, fellow authors, and readers deserve it, too.
There's plenty to be gained by developing a reputation of respect.
R.C. Lewis teaches math by day and writes YA fiction by every other time. Her YA sci-fi novel Stitching Snow will be published by Disney-Hyperion in Summer 2014. Meanwhile, you can find her at Crossing the Helix and on Twitter (@RC_Lewis).