{Between the Lines}

The Agents of Books & Such Literary Management Muse About Books, Publishing, and Life

The Entitled Writer

Wendy Lawton

Blogger: Wendy Lawton

We talk a lot about the kinds of writers we love to work with but when we agents get together the talk often turns to the writers we hate representing.

And there is always one standout– one writer we all cite as the writer we’d most hate to represent. The entitled writer.

This is a tough business and it takes a team to make a project work these days. It takes a hardworking writer who has a dreamstime_xs_34758070“servant attitude.” That’s a hard term to define. It doesn’t mean the writer is low man on the totem pole. Some of our greatest leaders of all time had a servant attitude. It means that you will selflessly serve others.

My own job requires a servant attitude. My place in this industry is to serve my clients and to serve the publishers. I can think of no better work.

So, on the other hand, what’s an entitled writer look like? Let me sketch a few pictures for you.

I’ve had calls from a secretary saying her boss wants to write a book but he’s too busy to write a proposal or to speak to agents. Um, yeah.

Or the letter I got recently from a writer who insists that his book is the greatest book ever written and if I don’t snap it up. . .

It’s the writer who refuses to edit, claiming his first draft was good enough. After all, what’s an editor for?

It’s the author who won’t do his share of marketing. He doesn’t have time and besides, the publisher has a whole department to do this.

It’s the wannabe writer who can’t be bothered to read publishing blogs, work on the craft, or attend conferences. He just calls an agent on the phone and says he plans to get his book published and wants to know how.

It’s the person with a story who comes up to an author at a signing and tells her that he has a great idea for a book. Can she write it? They can split the profits.

I could go on and on but I think you get a picture of the one writer I will not represent.

Have you met him? Let’s hear your pet peeves about those writers and wannabe writers who set your teeth on edge. (No names or specifics, of course.)

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