I’ve been very nice recently, and my soapbox is getting dusty. Time to vent.
At the 2006 Atlanta RWA conference, I experienced something that really ticked me off. I volunteered to usher at the RITA/Golden Heart ceremony and was assigned to work the “gate” to the VIP section where the nominees and their guests would sit. Somewhere along the line, a wire got crossed and the hotel didn’t have enough chairs set up in this section. It got a bit chaotic, as I tried to keep out the folks without VIP passes and deal with the folks who had passes but couldn’t find a place to sit. No one was terribly happy. At one point, an author (whom I adore) and her editor (whom I find slightly intimidating) came to me to ask about the seating problem. The best I could do was point them in the direction of someone who might be able to get the hotel to bring in more chairs.
It wasn’t the best of situations, plus my feet were hurting due to my fabu Drag Queen shoes I chose to wear.
In the midst of this, an agent — who has a high enough visibility that I could recognize her on sight without a name tag — gets upset because she can’t find a seat with her author. Of the options available in this situation, this agent decided the proper course of action would be to shout at and berate me.
Yes, she took out her frustrations on me at the top of her lungs in front of oh, several hundred people. Now remember, this situation is A) not my fault, and B) not something I could do anything about — even if I was inclined to after being berated like that. (Remember how I couldn’t help adored author and her editor?) Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I turned my back on her and went back to work. But it bothered me all night. I told the Playfriends and the Mavens about it, but kept it to myself otherwise.
My feelings were hurt from being shouted at, but the more I thought about it, the madder I got. What kind of person acts that way in public? I was dressed to the nines — obviously an RWA volunteer, not a hotel employee (i.e., someone who could have done something about the chair situation — not that she should have shouted at a hotel employee.) Although this agent had been on my list of agents to query one day, I immediately struck her from that list. If she’d act that way to me — not having a clue who I was — why would I want this person to represent me in a professional situation? Was this how she spoke to editorial assistants or other “underlings?” What would happen if she went after an editor like that?
Okay, so she probably won’t be missing out on much because I decline to query her or let her represent me one day, but we can hope that one day, like Susan Elizabeth Phillips said, this will be a “big mistake” on her part. But that was just for me. I never went out and “warned” folks away from her or anything like that. Maybe it was a once-off — just someone having a bad day, but I wasn’t going to risk it with my career.
Then, just recently, I hear of this same agent doing something very similar at the RWA conference in Dallas this year. A little later, another report trickles in. Hmmm, seems this behavior wasn’t just a once off. My estimation of this agent has sunk to an all-time low.
Now, I’m not saying the agent in question isn’t a good agent. She has some well-known (but not necessarily superstar) clients, and I assume they are happy with the services she provides. But every time I hear her name, I think of the hissy fits and I lose all respect.
Sadly, because I’ve listened to the lectures on Good Behavior for a Newbie Writer, I can’t (won’t) name her on the blog or publicly call her out for her behavior. All I can do is wait until someone privately asks my opinion about this agent, then tell them how uncomfortable I’d be about having her represent me based on her behavior at RWA conferences.
What unpubbed author hasn’t been lectured on the importance of acting professionally because you don’t want to sink your career (before it’s even started) because you acted like a raving bitch in public? (Ironically, this particular agent has even blogged about this particular topic. Seems she can’t take her own advice.)
So riddle me this, Honorary Playfriends: Would you — knowing what I know — query this agent? Would you feel comfortable having her represent you? Would you trust her to not berate secretaries and assistants? I’ve heard about agents making enemies of editors due to their behavior, and the stories never end well for the authors. If no agent is better than a bad agent, is a possibly-rude agent worth the risk? Seriously, inquiring minds want to know your thoughts.
Edited to add: No, I'm not planning on querying this agent. She's off my short list. I'm just curious to know if *other* folks would query her, knowing this information.
***Please, no speculating about the agent’s identity in the comments tail. In other words — don’t use any agent’s name, good or bad. I’d hate to have to delete your comment and have you miss out on a chance to win a prize this week in our Birthday giveaways.
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