Passive Guy, over at The Passive Voice, had a couple great posts this morning.
The second was a discussion of comments on Courtney Milan’s blog (she has a couple excellent posts about the perils of agents acting as publishers, btw), and one in particular that was almost mindless in its blind trust in a person who calls himself an “agent”, even to the point of not caring if that person’s dealings are sketchy. PG is astounded at that sentiment, as am I.
But I’m not surprised.
One thing I’ve learned about writers since I started this gig seven months ago is that a lot of writers seem to have a pathological aversion to common sense, critical thinking, and basic business. I attribute it to the very silly and annoy tendency of writers to think of themselves as “artists”.
Before I go on, I feel I should expand on this particular label: “artist”.
I have a very low opinion of “artists”. From everything I’ve ever experienced, people who call themselves “artists” are delusional, to one extent or another. They either have this silly notion that somehow their “art” is going to change the world (yeah right! Show me one painter, sculptor, musician, or fiction writer who actually did that through their “art” and I’ll give you a large sum of money. Never happened. Never will.), that their art portrays deep truths that others never saw before (also yeah right. There’s nothing new under the sun), or that they’re somehow superior to other people because they make “art” (they see further than the rest of us, you see). Basically, they put on airs to make up for a lack of practical skills, intellect, and capacity for reason by telling themselves they’re smarter and better than the normal people, that they’re better than they are. It’s freaking childish, but I guess that’s the point.
Too harsh? I think not.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. People who work in the “arts” are not special. They differ from other people only in that they chose to focus their attention on honing skills that other people did not. The same as attorneys, engineers, or the members of any other profession are not special. In my experience, only “artists” have this need to place themselves on this pedestal of greatness and specialness, often in the face of all evidence. I can only speculate as to why.
As soon as someone starts calling himself an “artist”, it seems like this becomes a license in that person’s mind to stop thinking, a lot of the time. How else could anyone make such an asinine statement as the one PG quoted?
When it comes to agents, I’ve gone off on enough rants that I think I’ve made my stance pretty clear, particularly about the subject of agents acting as publishers. I’ve got to say, though, that PG has been much more eloquent than I on this subject, and if you haven’t read his multiple posts about it, you should. Read Courtney Milan’s as well.
I’ll go ahead and summarize, though. In this day and age, I see no value whatsoever in an agent. Particularly if that agent also purports to be a publisher, or to be a “self-publishing assistant”, or whatever euphemism they choose to use. I don’t say that as some jaded writer who’s been screwed by agents one to may times, or who’s bitter toward the whole publishing establishment, or whatever.
Because I’m not that guy.
I’m just an intelligent, confident guy who’s been trained in business, management, and leadership and who’s learned a lot in the last seven months about how publishing works and how things are changing in this business. And frankly, I don’t see the point of what an agent does. At least, not for the money that an agent charges. I’d pay a flat fee for the sales services that agents offer. Maybe. But a percentage forever? Hell no.
Now I could be wrong. There may be all sorts of valid purposes for an agent these days. And I’ll happily change my tune if someone presents me with a compelling case.
But I sure as hell would never purport to trust an agent, or anyone in any business relationship, without question, no matter what that person does.
Sorry. I’m not an “artist”. I’m an adult. And a businessman.
And it’s about time more writers started being the same.