I've conquered the query hurdle and secured representation only to find that being on submission is ten times worse! After years of hard work, research, diligence, and above all, patience, I have to think there must be a better way for writers to find publishers that would be less frustrating and more transparent. It feels like the open waters out there and lots of talented writers are getting eaten alive! You've been very disparaging of some of the referral services that have popped up, perhaps rightfully so, but it seems to me that a service like Submittable could eventually replace the job of an agent.
So my question to you is, do you think the current agenting model is the pinnacle of publishing or is there a better way? What would that way look like?
You'll pardon me please if I get a little hot under the collar about the idea that you think I can be replaced by an Excel spread sheet.
For starters, even asking the question tells me you don't have a clue what an agent really does. The question implies that all we do is send manuscripts and wait for replies.
Here's a brief list of some of the OTHER things I do:
1. Make sure the author knows where to meet his editor at ComicCon to get his badge. I do this because my author has never been to ComicCon, and never been to the Javits Center and didn't know that "I'll meet you there" is the same thing as saying "I'll meet you in Seattle."
2. Edit proposals
3. Re-edit proposals
4. Review books in a new category to prepare for submission of a project in 2015.
5. Review royalty statements.
6. Call royalty departments to get information on line items that are unclear.
7. Explain royalty statements to authors.
8. Call editor to nudge about getting publication date in a particular month because of client's career commitments.
9. Call editor to nudge about timely payment
10. Call editor to follow up on manuscripts.
11. Call client to update on manuscript submission.
12. Reply to a "good news" email from client with suggestions on how to leverage that good news.
13. Consult with colleagues about contract language that isn't in author's best interest and determine strategy for negotiating.
14. Nudge editor for information missing from royalty statement.
15. Update author on information missing from royalty statement.
16. Facilitate lunch meeting with client and colleague who solicits his work for anthologies.
17. Attend reading with client.
18. Answer email from fan about how to purchase client's books.
19. Follow up with client about expired website domain name.
20. Send submissions to editors.
And gentle readers, that's just what I can remember from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. And you'll notice that doesn't including writing this, or any other, blog post. Or reading submissions from queriers.
I'm not sure why you find the process of being on submission "frustrating" or why you think it isn't "transparent." I've said this before, I'll say it again now: you should be able to get a list of where your project is on submission from your agent in five minutes. Ten if she's busy. A day if she's in the middle of follow ups.
And what's frustrating? The wait? Trust me, sending your work to someone via Submittable doesn't cut the wait time. I'm very familiar with Submittable because many of the lit mags I send my clients short stories to use it to manage submissions.
Do I think think the agenting model is perfect? No, of course not. Nothing but Our Risen Lord is perfect, and He doesn't work in publishing. Trust me, we've called for him enough.
Do I think it works pretty well? Yes I do. Not every agent is good at his/her job, and not every good agent is a good fit for every writer.
But if you think for one tiny second that what I can do can be replaced by some fucking spread sheet, well, think again.