Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Calls for #agentfail, and other thoughts

Good grief, are we still talking about this? Seriously?

Okay, so the topic this time is a little different; this is about having an #agentfail day. And why it's so unfair that writers cannot even think about posting any sort of #agentfail because of the terrible repercussions the mean, evil agents will smite them with if they are foolish enough to dare (the whining is in the comments, not the post).

Look, people, this is just like any other job. One person is asking for the job, the other is sifting through all the people asking for jobs and picking out the few that look good. This is not an unfair balance of power; this is the way it always has been, period.

I applied for a job at Borders last summer. They never called me for an interview.

I also applied for a bunch of copyediting jobs when I quit teaching the first time. I was told my degree was in the wrong subject: I majored in Spanish, not English or journalism. The fact that I had TAUGHT English for four years mattered not a whit. Nor did my degree matter when I applied for a bilingual copyeditor position.

I applied for a job as an academic advisor with UTA's College of Education. I received a nice email telling me I was not qualified (despite my experience in education at the secondary and elementary levels, and navigating the uncertain seas of certification).

So, how we don't have an #HRfail Day?

Because that would be stupid.

If given the chance to do any of the above jobs, I would do better than the average Joe.* But these people did not even grant me an interview, did not even give me a chance to begin to tell them how I can do the job better than most, even though, on paper, I don't have the necessary requirements. All they had to do was give me a chance!

But they didn't. And that's how it goes. EVERYWHERE.

These HR departments don't "owe" me anything. I do not deserve an interview simply because I applied. I do not deserve the job simply because I asked for it. And I should not be applying for the job when I don't meet the minimum requirements clearly posted on the website.

Same with the agents. They don't "owe" you a read any more than any employer owes you an interview. They don't owe you a quick reply any more than an employer does -- I interviewed for a job over two weeks ago, and was told I'd hear back in about two weeks. Am I getting my panties in a bunch and hollering #HRfail? No, because that would be stupid and immature. (The job is at a school district. They're remodeling the admin offices over Spring Break, and the two-week mark from the interview was the Tuesday before Spring Break. Did I really expect to hear back from them the week before Spring Break?)

Another whine-fest topic is agents who Twitter when they're behind on reading queries. HOW DARE THEY NOT SPEND EVERY WAKING MINUTE DEVOTING THEIR LIFE TO YOU.

There are 168 hours in a week. The average person only spends 40-50 of those hours working. The average salaried paycheck only pays you for 40 hours. This leaves 118-128 hours for the agent to spend as he or she chooses; if we allot 40-50 of those hours to sleeping, that still leaves 68-88 hours for other stuff. Like Twitter. When, late on a Sunday night, I see an agent take a few seconds to bemoan an inbox of 400+ emails, my first thought is not, "How dare she waste her time like that?" but rather something more along the lines of, "Good golly, she has a much stronger work ethic than I do."

I refuse to grade on weekends. Not anymore. Screw it. My weekends are MINE.

Yes, I know agents work on comission. But that doesn't mean they are not allowed to have a life. Work to live v. live to work, and all that.

You can easily turn the argument around to the writer -- what are you doing on Twitter and writing whiny comments on blogs when you should be working on your writing? Polish that query letter, research more agents, edit that ms, start your next project. Or just grow up and quit whining.

Okay, now I'm done venting. So I can get back to cleaning. And, later, writing.

*And, come on! Freakin' Borders? What, I can't handle shelving books in alphabetical order and pushing buttons in the regster?? I've done it before, dude!


  1. I didn't get into all that drama. I feel very thankful for that. It does seem odd. Ever since I wanted to write I've heard nothing but the daunting rejection letters that writers collected over the years. Quite often in the hundreds...

  2. 1. Totally agree with you.

    2. I've often heard that it's a good idea to call back after an interview, even if they said they'd call you, just to remind them that you're there. I guess it's sort of like sending a intro letter, or a thank-you note after an interview-- an extra step that's not mandatory, but might just get your name mentioned that extra time that makes them think, "hmmm maybe we'll give this person a second look..."

    Mind you, I've never actually used any of these tactics. I've been lucky enough to land my one professional job over a lunch date after interning there for a week, and my current position... well, let's just say my current "boss" didn't exactly have a choice in "hiring" me. ; )

  3. Marcy,

    1. Thank you. :P

    2. I probably will call the district to follow up, but I'm not going to do it Tuesday at 4:30 to ask them why they haven't called me yet. I'm going to wait until later in the week after we get back from Spring Break, because I know they're busy and it might take them a little longer than originally expected to get back to me.

    I think your boss is quite pleased with your job performance so far, BTW. His photos show him pretty pleased with things, in general.