By: Jeff Herman
Am I discourteous agent? Yes, because I permit my submissions to pile on and on, and the writers are left not knowing where I stand. This happens because I don't have enough time to keep up with them and basically "catch as catch can", and I don't have an organized way to stay in touch with the people who submitted them. Nor do I know how to create such a "stay in touch system", or what I would even say other than I don't have time and don't know when I will and I'm sorry. My consolation is that my generic request letter says we can't promise a response time and don't want an exclusive review for that reason. I'm talking about thousands of submissions a year. This isn't a whine or a rant. I'm grateful to receive them. I'm simply trying to provide some visual and logistical context to what it's like on the receiving end of an emotionally loaded process. I expect that my experience and limitations reflects what it's like for many "mom and pop" agencies. Funny thing is, before everything went digital, it was somewhat easier to keep track of and expedite the hard copy submissions, maybe because there was no choice or we would run out of space very quickly. Now that there's infinite virtual space for everything that will ever be written for eternity the need to turn them around for physical purposes no longer exists. Writers keep writing and keep submitting to the agents, and the hard drives and the cloud storage files just keep on hoarding them everyday. They are bills that actually don't have to be paid. And they are whole portions of people's hearts made ethereal and avoidable, because you cannot try to kiss just one without thousands of hungry pieces of hearts spilling out from a smashed dam, but my lips go numb, my space gets lost. Who am I? What am I supposed to do? Somehow be amazing?
I can offer to empower you to not need me or my kind, and I have made time for that for many years. There is much evidence for that, and I'm grateful to do the service. Because if you are called you need to know there are countless ways to arrive. For me, that's been the best part of what I do and where I won't hold back, or stop.
Through the days, there are whines, rants and complaints from those who claim neglect, because they are neglected. To them, perhaps even YOU, I can only say, "Why"? Complaining is choosing to remain the same. Sing that song once or twice than flush with the rest of your waste. Go to the port and go even further than before. There's always a destination if you go. I will be your obstruction, but that's your choice not mine.