Monday, September 21, 2015

Do conservative authors have a harder time getting repped or sold?

Senator Ted Cruz complains when he’s kept off the New York Times bestseller list, accused of bulk sales, and then proves there were no bulk sales.

Bill O’Reilly complains that he can’t get a Publishers Weekly blurb for his latest, Killing Reagan, despite the fact that his Killing Patton was the top nonfiction title of 2014.

From your perch, or shall we say depth, is there an institutionalized bias against conservative authors in the publishing industry? If a lit agent agrees to represent a book by a conservative author, do they risk the disdain of many of their peers? If Donald Trump sought representation for a new book, would many lit agents decline on ideological grounds, even if they stood to make a small fortune on the deal? 

It's interesting that you use the word institutionalized to describe the bias you think you've illustrated. Publishing isn't an institution, it's an industry. Some of us may belong in an institution, but nonetheless this is not some sort of lockstep monolith.

Yes it is true that the people who work in this industry tend to skew left in their politics. Since my politics is more middle of the road, that makes for some interesting bar conversation. I can usually stop everyone dead in their tracks with the bald statement that I am a registered Republican (and I am.)

Ted Cruz may have been unfairly blocked from getting his NYT Bestseller badge but he merely joins a LONG list of authors who have that complaint.  The NYT list is based on orders, not sales, and data is gathered from bookstores of the Times' choosing. That list is not published, nor is it widely known. Thus if Ted Cruz is bulk buying from Powells in Portland, Amazon isn't going to have a clue and Harper (Cruz's publisher) wouldn't know either.

The reason bulk buys are discounted for the list is that indeed, an author DID do this some 25 years ago. I'm iffy on the details but it was quite the scandal at the time.

As to Bill O'Reilly, he's just wrong about this, like he is about a lot of things. I've included the link to the PW piece that explains very calmly why that is so.

And honestly if those two rabblerousers are what you base your argument on, here's the counterargument:

Ann Coulter.
She's been publishing books with a major publisher for years.

And so has Donald Trump.

Let me remind you of one cold hard fact: publishers LOVE to make money. If there is "institutional bias" of any sort in publishing it's for making not losing money.

What Cruz and O'Reilly are complaining about is what EVERY author of every political stripe complains about: they didn't get their props.

I have no idea what anyone else would do if Donald Trump wanted a new agent. I'd say no because I prefer to work with people who are actually interested in being writers, not demagogues.

There is no political litmus test to pass here for becoming a client. I have clients who voted for Mitt Romney. I have clients who pounded the pavement for President Obama. I have clients who'd register as anarchists if such a thing was allowed. What they all have in common is they write REALLY REALLY well...and they were robbed of their spot on the NYT list.


AJ Blythe said...

I don't know enough about American politics to understand the nuances of this post. But it's interesting to learn how the NYT list works =)

Unknown said...

I'm with AJ. Plus, I just don't care about any of the names, or their status as authors, to give a corn husk about where they stand on any list. I'd rather discuss Downton Abbey.

Now, if Connelly, Coben, or King have a beef, I'd be all over it.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

As a fiction writer, would an agent even care how I vote? I have never even wondered about the political leanings of my favorite authors. Who cares if they tell a story well? I would think this was only a concern for non-fiction folks, and I would further guess that agents/ publishers are more interested in bottom line than ideological slant. Like Janet said, it's a business.

Donnaeve said...

Well, this was an interesting question considering the current political climate.

But...yeah. Publishing is a biz and those working within are not interested in the political persuasions of authors unless that's what their book is about - and then the interest would be how well it would or would not do.

I'm shocked about these two tidbits. The NYT list is based on orders??? Not sales??? Slaps head.

QOTKU a registered Replublican??? On the floor.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

Just as a side, if anyone cares, I am voting for Janet at the next election. I am sure she will announce her candidacy soon. She is, after all, the QOTKU. And a good book can solve most ills in the world :)

Tony Clavelli said...

I lean heavily left when it comes to politics, but for fiction, the politics of the writer only occasionally comes through. As a huge SF fan, the recent Ancillary Justice had a narrator with an inability to determine different genders (for those outside the SF community, it won a Hugo and inspired a handful of outraged male SF writers to try and fail to rig this year's Hugos). The thing was, outside of that little political nod, it didn't really affect the book too much. I didn't love it, but if the book's good and you're not writing a bunch of offensive stuff on your social media with your name all over it, I think there's an agent for all good writers. For every Ann Leckie with an agent there is a Sad Puppy with one too--otherwise we wouldn't have gotten that mess.

I'm curious, and I really hope I'm not stretching too far with this question, but does the industry skew left because readers skew left? Academia clearly does, and academics like reading, but there are so many different kinds of books out there. I'd love to see a survey about readers and their politics (but I'd hate to try to write the questions).

I really love the idea of registering as an anarchist. And the anarchist bureaucracy scrutinizing the forms to make sure they're filled out properly and then setting them all on fire.

Janet Reid said...

Tony, it's NYC. Eveyone here tilts left. I think it's cause the island itself tilts.

Craig F said...

I live at the ass end of the I-4 corridor. It is the most coveted piece of political property in America but the people are still people. In business, any form, their focus is on making the business, and themselves, prosper. The main thing I notice is that nobody really likes any of the political views out there. The largest growing party is the one I have always registered as, NPA.

Those who still hold to a party don't believe it is the same party they signed up for. I personally believe that the Tea Party is more dangerous to Republicans that the Trump is.

What that means to me is that I would not accept a burger from Cruz, even if he added bacon and blue cheese to it, but I would let Trump take me to lunch. It has to do with entertainment value which is the same ruler that publication people are using.

Stephen G Parks said...

These days everyone has an opinion, a stake in every claim, and a sense that somehow, someway, they’re being done wrong, being victimized, repressed, but are never on the wrong side of the facts. It doesn’t surprise me that this has appeared in the publishing industry - and not just in blaming straw men for failed best sellers.

A while back someone asked Janet if it was OK to tell an agent that you wouldn’t accept publishing deals from certain publishers. I wondered then if it was linked to this perception of publishers having political agendas.

The recent Hugo brouhaha that Tony touched on in his comment above showed just how political, segregated, and shrill some authors are becoming: accusing fellow writers, editors, and publishers of discrimination and political machinations; insisting that those around them "choose sides" and declare allegiances. It was both ugly and revealing.

Erin said...

I read Janet's blog every day but rarely comment. I would just like to note, though, that if you look at the NYT non-fiction lists for the past couple months at least, they have continually included authors such as Dick Cheney, Ted Cruz, (he was on the list for most of the late summer), Ann Coulter, and Mark Levin. While there have been liberal authors, too, the conservative voices are definitely holding their ground without fail. You just need to look at the lists, particularly since the campaigns started.

Anonymous said...

We had this debate on Books and Writers a while back. An author filed suit against NYT because he wasn't included on the best seller list. The NYT said their criteria for putting a book on the list was a secret formula and the lawyers argued the best seller list was an "opinion piece" (and protected under the first amendment) of what they felt were best sellers and not based on exact mathematical formulas. Therefore the author could not sue them for not being on the list regardless of what his sales were. The court ruled in favor of the Times.

Here's the ruling for the legally inclined.

Basically, it's accurate if we want it to be and not if we don't want it to be. Since it's our list, it's our rules.

BJ Muntain said...

Ah, politics. Canada is also heading into an election in October. Then there will be a Saskatchewan provincial election early next year. This is the time of year I am SOOO happy I don't have television. I even stay off Twitter more than usual. It's not that I don't want to know the facts - I do - but I really don't need to know all the faulty and idiotic opinions of people who don't know the facts and are only spouting party propoganda.

That Hugo bother... Like Janet, I'm kind of middle-of-the-road when it comes to politics. Left vs right in such an extreme hurts my sensibilities. I honestly don't believe the Hugos - or any awards - are necessarily political. But in this case, a certain group decided that the Hugos were political, and the Hugo politics were leaning in the other direction from their stance. So they hopped up on the seesaw and all stood on their seat, holding it securely. In order to balance things out, the other side had to step forward and all jump onto the other seat. The end result was balance, rather than victory. The end result was also that a lot of authors - on both sides - who deserved awards didn't get them, because they didn't get nominated or voted for, or because they were so sick of the politics that they withdrew. There were no real winners. There were quite a few real losers, though.

But back to the question at hand: I'm sure there are some agents who might take politics into account when choosing a client. I'm sure there are some smaller publishers who have ideals they fight for. But publishing, on a whole, is a business. In my experience, business actually tends to run more conservative - but they're going to go where the money is. In a world where most people are either one side or the other, they'll publish books on both sides, so that each book will have a good chance at getting half the market. And half the market is pretty darn good.

Anonymous said...


"But back to the question at hand: I'm sure there are some agents who might take politics into account when choosing a client."

Why, yes, there are.

An agent boldly demanded on twitter last year, "If you belong to this party, just stop following me right now!"

I didn't belong to the party. I don't belong to any party, but I stopped following her. It's none of her business what political party a prospective client belongs to. If she's that hardcore, I don't want to deal with her in any fashion.

I didn't realize it was an election year in Canada. I hope the speakers leave politics out at Surrey.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: The election is October 19. Right before Surrey. By the time SiWC happens, the elections will be a done deal. Still, I don't seem to remember any other time politics were mentioned in any speech (although I would probably have glazed over, and therefore wouldn't remember if they had), and we've had a few federal elections since I started attending in 2005.

The only politics I ever remember at Surrey had nothing to do with the conference. The first day of the conference one year - the Thursday - it was almost impossible to get to the hotel, there were protesters everywhere, and the hotel was full of security guards. It just happened that day, at that very hotel, Mr George W Bush and Mr Bill Clinton were meeting. Neither were president anymore, by then. The only person who even mentioned all that bother was Robert Dugoni, when he said, "You didn't have to go to all that trouble just for me!"

DLM said...

This is the only place on Teh Intarwebs I would dare to read the comments after a post like this. This community is exceptional.

As to the politics - honestly, this post reads like all the other Special Snowflake letters/questions (here and at any other writing blog). The actual leanings almost get beside the point ...

"When my precious written wisdom is not beloved by all, surely it's the fault of conspiracy!"

For those of us not living inside this OP's navel, the lack of objectivity points to possible problems with the writing.

This becomes one of those tricky problems where the author is not writing for their audience - but for **THEIR** audience - which is a different thing. And can be hard to market.

Anonymous said...


At the 2008 Surrey conference the keynote speaker spent much of his time admonishing Americans to make the right choice in the upcoming elections since we hadn't done anything right since we elected JFK. I remember it quite well as I got up and left my meal, to spend the rest of the time in the bar where I had a lovely discussion with a Donald Maass agent, who wasn't interested in telling me how to vote.

The next day I was seated at a table of mostly Canadian authors who ranted non-stop about Americans and American politics. I tried to change the subject politely a few times and finally had to say, "Excuse me. I realize this is truly all you Canadians seem to be interested in, telling Americans how to vote, but I paid to come to a writing conference. Can we please discuss something else?"

There was frozen silence the rest of the meal, but at least I didn't have to listen to how stupid Americans are.

There's a reason I haven't been back to Surrey for several years. Then there was the author who thought she was being cute by wearing a black afro wig in support of her favorite candidate and handing out anti-Bush bumper stickers with each purchase of a book. I had actually planned on buying some of the books as KC told me they were very good editing books.

I get a little touchy about people from other countries telling me how to vote and paying a LOT of money to go to a writing conference to listen to political speeches. I can listen to that crap at home.

DLM said...

By the way, am I the only person who noticed the extreme insult to Janet in the "your depth" comment in the question?

Considering she's answered this type of question before by stating she is conservative, this OP's presumption is not merely obnoxious, it indicates they have not been reading. I'm not surprised one bit she's registered republican, she's never kept her feelings a secret. She's also the QOTKU and a brilliant agent most of us here would love to call our own.

No agent in the world is going to match my political feelings point for point, just as no PERSON in the world is. To let this sort of thing get in the way of querying etc. would be beyond Woodland Creature overthinking, right into madness. Unless an agent is clear and obnoxious: if they rep my groove, I'm querying, and compatibility will emerge along very much other lines. Good gravy.

Janet Reid said...

DLM, I'd assumed the depth was a reference to the shark motif, as in underwater.

DLM said...

Good point. Gracias!

Janice Grinyer said...

Politics is one of those areas in business that its best to be neutral, if anything is to get done at all. Its basically the program when working for the government - you must be neutral...

Unless of course, there's an issue that needs to be lobbied within your own industry. Its amazing when a whole industry is attacked how many from all different backgrounds can pull together...

So that and tequila. Tequila can neutralize anyone.

Colin Smith said...

Mighty QOTKU: I don't recall you mentioning your conservative leanings before, but if Diane does remember, so be it. I certainly had you pegged as leaning a bit further to the right of the industry in which you thrive. I would also venture to say you lean a little more to the left of most conservatives, which would pretty much place you in the middle! :)

A quick primer for non-US readers. The Republican Party is, broadly speaking, the main conservative party in the US. Individual Republicans may lean left, right, or center, but they all have some underlying values (conservative fiscal policy, conservative social values). Conversely, the Democrat Party is, broadly speaking, the main liberal party in the US. Individual Democrats may lean right, left, or center, but they all have underlying values (liberal fiscal policy, liberal social values). Some prefer the term "progressive" to "liberal." My US friends can correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me one's attitude toward the Constitution kind of sums up the ideology of each. Conservatives want to interpret the Constitution in the way the original writers intended (i.e., they conserve the historical meaning), whereas liberals, or progressives, want to interpret it according to the culture. They see it as a living document whose meaning should reflect the sensibilities of the day.

States whose populus tends to vote Republican are often referred to as "Red States." Those who tend to vote Democrat are often referred to as "Blue States." This REALLY confused me at first because in the UK, blue is the color of the Conservative Party, and red is the color of Labour (the more left-leaning party)! It seems most people in the Arts in the UK tend to vote Labour, so that left-leaning disposition is international.

Regardless of my own politics (which, as I've often said, you can probably discern if you know anything about me), I don't have a problem with writers, agents, publishers, actors, musicians, etc. having political views and even stumping for their favorite candidates, or using their platform to talk about issues they care about--even if I don't agree. What REALLY gets my goat is when their stumping and campaigning becomes unnecessarily offensive. Yes, it's wonderful that you want people to vote for your guy, but don't call me an idiot for wanting to vote for my guy! I follow many writers, agents, etc. on Twitter who I will just ignore during certain political seasons. But I will quickly unfollow those who become disrespectful.

One caveat to the above. If I want 24/7 political commentary, I'll follow political blogs and Twitter accounts. If a writer's Twitter feed/blog becomes a soapbox for their politics, then I'm outta there. Of course, I'll be more tolerant if I happen to agree with your politics, but even then, it can become a bit much if that's all you talk about, especially if you're not running for office or holding office.

Colin Smith said...

ONE MORE THING... (sorry, but I don't know if I'll have an opportunity to comment again today--you guys are so patient with me... thanks!)

The question is whether agents/publishers will work with conservative/Republican clients. What about vice-versa? How often do pre-published writers consider the politics of the agents they want to query? Janet (and others) talk about the close working relationship they often have with their clients. I've often wondered how difficult this might be if our worldviews (political, theological, etc.) are diametrically opposed. Sure, we could talk about my novels and other "shop" talk, but when it comes to anything else, we might find ourselves dancing on eggshells to be sure we don't offend. Do I want that kind of relationship? Do I want an agent who is liberal as the day is long when I am not, when it could mean a colder working relationship than I would like? Perhaps this is a question QOTKU can apply her experience and wisdom to, since I'm certain not all her clients share either her political or theological views, and may disagree with her on things she believes in passionately.

Posts like this are why this blog is consistently voted among the top blogs for readers. You're a rock star, Janet! :)

nightsmusic said...

Yes it is true that the people who work in this industry tend to skew left in their politics. Since my politics is more middle of the road, that makes for some interesting bar conversation. I can usually stop everyone dead in their tracks with the bald statement that I am a registered Republican (and I am.)

I suspected as much. I am too, more middle of the road and a registered Republican. What I do find interesting in the publishing blogosphere is most of the blogs I frequent are far left leaning and I think you're right that much of the industry skews the same way. I never thought about it before. I do know that I'm usually very careful making any comment on those blogs that can be put up for ridicule. Like any kind of conservative comment. But the bottom line is, yes, publishing is a business. In it to make money. You can worship at the feet of the gum-gum tree and if your book is making MONEY, it shouldn't matter that your ideas differ.

Listening to our local news/weather station in the morning is interesting. It's the number one station and conservative and the host pointed out when a caller wanted to know why liberal news shows were hosting Trump. The host explained that they were not because they agreed with him or were particularly fond of him but because he brought in RATINGS. Same thing in the publishing world. Or it should be.

And @Julie, I would have stopped following her too!

Susan said...

This post and these comments are fascinating, and I wish I was lucid enough to understand half of them or form a coherent thought of my own. Some friends unexpectedly, albeit happily, came to visit this weekend, so my brain fog and fatigue is running rampant today (kind of like your worst hangover without the benefit of drinking).

I will say that I never much thought of politics when it came to publishing, except for politicians who happen publish, like Trump signing with S&S (did I read that right that he just signed and the book is coming out next month?). Even then, it seems to be more about the money than anything else, which, I'm not saying I agree with, but I understand it's inherently a business.

While I care about politics in general, as a whole, I want an agent who shares my values, not necessarily my political affiliation or ideologies. Even then, it's pretty basic: just be a damn good person. I value that above anything else.

OK. Climbing back under the covers now...

Adele said...

I'm a little surprised at the number of posters who want their agent to share their values, worldviews or political affiliations. I'd want an honest agent who shares my devotion to furthering my career. Period.

BJ Muntain said...

Julie: I'm sorry you had those experiences. I honestly had no idea. As for the keynote speaker - as I said, my eyes glaze over when politics come up, so I'm sorry I don't remember that. You have every reason to feel hurt and angry.

Being somewhat central in political orientation, I've found that simply ignoring politics (like those of that keynote speaker) is safest for me. I don't have a blood pressure problem, but I sure feel it rising when politics are discussed. No matter if the speaker is right or left - and you get very few people who aren't one or the other - they're going to say things that grate on my soul. So I ignore them. That's my coping mechanism. It won't work for everyone. It may even be looked at as 'wrong' by some, but it's what makes the time of election campaigning livable for me. I keep an eye on the issues, and I make an informed choice when voting, but I don't have to listen to all the posturing and ranting.

BJ Muntain said...

Adele: When I read your comment, I thought, gee, I don't remember that. So I went back to re-read all the comments.

I saw that Colin asked some questions along that line, more for discussion purposes than as an idealogical declaration.

I saw that Susan said that she wants an agent who shares her values (aka be a good person), but doesn't care about the agent's politics.

I really don't see the 'number of posters who want their agent to share their values, worldviews or political affiliations' that you do. Is it because some of us are sharing our political leanings?

Cindy C said...

I just saw in Publisher's Weekly that Donald Trump signed a contract with Simon and Schuster's Threshold Editions for a new book to be released in October. I'll be shocked if it doesn't end up on the NYT bestseller list. (So will Trump, who said in a prepared statement, "I am excited to announce that work on my new bestseller is almost done and I'll have a new book out from Threshold Editions and Simon & Schuster later this year.")

The article also lists other successful Threshold books, including books by Dick Cheney and Glenn Beck. I suspect the publishing industry, like most businesses, will tilt toward green (money, not the environment) if given the option. said...

Off topic. I am really excited about my Ivona text to speech program. I downloaded it last night--finally succeeded. I didn't know such existed. I've already listened to Salli read the beginning of my novel. Thanks to Julie,

Christina Seine said...

I'm one of the most opinionated people I know, but honestly can't bear to throw my hat in with any particular political party. I'm disgusted with the whole lot of them.

I'd vote Janet for president in a heartbeat, though.

Am I the only one who can't WAIT for the election to be over? I think for every debate the media should be required to air at least 15 minutes of cute puppy and kitten photos so we can get the collective bad taste out of our brains. There are times when I wish we had a TV in the house, but election years are not one of them. Don't get me wrong, I believe we should all be politically informed (and as a freelance journalist, that's sort of required). But it just seems like lately the clowns are running the circus.

It would be lovely, I think, to have a kindred spirit for an agent, although of course it's possible to have wonderful working relationships (and friendships!) with people of wildly opposing beliefs. Still, if an author or an agent had strong beliefs and tended to be very vocal about it publicly, I can see where it could cause some friction. I work very hard to keep my mouth shut most of the time. I've never regretted holding my tongue, either. =)

Elissa M said...

I'm always amused/bemused when people rant that there's some conspiracy afoot because things aren't 100% going their way. Of course, if things WERE 100% going their way, that would just be fair and equitable.

I personally don't see the world through politically tinted glasses, and I hope any agent, editor, or publisher I might work with doesn't either.

Colin Smith said...

BJ: Yes. Thank you--I wasn't saying I would only work with people who agree with me on theology, politics, and all other issues. I'd be a pretty lonesome unpublished author if that was the case. The fact is, the agent-client relationship, as portrayed by many clients I've read, is a little more than simply a business relationship. Yes, primarily it is about business: the author produces the product, the agent helps get that product to market. But agents also care about their authors as people. There is a financial aspect to this, too: authors who are sick, or who are going through hard times, tend not to be very productive. I'm not going to be so cynical as to suggest agents only care about the financial loss that comes from having a sick writer. Indeed, I believe Janet genuinely cares about her clients as people, not just as sources of income.

All that said, I'm curious to know if there are differences of opinion or worldview that would be a deal-breaker for either the author or the agent. Janet has already hinted there are by the fact she wouldn't represent Donald Trump if he came begging. Would she represent someone who is a very proud Trump supporter? (I'm not, just in case you were wondering.) Or, for example, would a gay agent be willing to represent someone who is very conservative in their views on sexuality? In most business relationships, such questions never arise. But perhaps they might be relevant to an agent-client relationship? I don't know. As BJ rightly said, I'm raising the issue for discussion.

Ardenwolfe said...

It's simple. Their books aren't on the NY Times Bestseller list because they weren't very good and we've heard their rhetoric before. Heck. Wal-Mart had both books on their shelf. I saw them. And I kept seeing all those copies until Wal-Mart removed and replaced those books with ones that did sell.

That's not a conspiracy. That's Marketing 101.

Anonymous said...


Actually, there are books that are selling well and topping various lists that don't make the NYT bestseller list. As noted in the Blatty lawsuit. The NYT lawyers contend the bestseller list is an editorial piece or their opinion and not strictly based on mathematics. Therefore, based on the first amendment, they can place whomever they want on it.

Normally, they do give weight to books that are selling well, but there have been many cases of books that are selling well in every market and are placed oddly on the NYT list or not placed at all. Since, as per testimony, the formula for placing a book on the list is "secret" and it is an opinion judgment, there is no way to say why one places above another.

After reading these lawsuits against the NYT and the lawyers' defenses for the list, I have much less respect for it. Obviously, I'd be thrilled to be on it, but it's not an entirely blind judgment.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: In essence, it seems being on the NYT list is akin to a rave review from a very popular and influential reader. I'm sure if you're hoping the sales of your book will land you on that list this might be a bit disappointing. But let's face it, if your book's selling well, you can take comfort that lots of people are reading it. All the NYT list would do is perhaps get some more people to read your book. And maybe give you more credibility in certain circles. And make your agent happy. That last one matters most, of course. ;)

AJ Blythe said...

Colin, thanks for the explanation.

No wonder politics is confusing. See, here in Australia, the Liberal party are the conservative party (leaning right) and the Labor party are the left. So your explanation that the Republican party is conservative, but the Democrat party are the liberal party... gah!

But naturally we are a lot like the UK, so I muddled my way through and I think I understand.

I've spent my career in an industry which definitely leans one way politically, while my personal stance is the opposite. But I've always just 'done the job' and kept out of political discussions. How you vote doesn't change how you do the job.

I think the same would apply to the writer/agent relationship. A good agent does the job regardless of what their political beliefs are. If they feel your writing doesn't resonate because of their political beliefs they would never offer a contract (in the same way an atheist agent would not offer to rep an inspirational author).

Writers have a business relationship with their agent. Not sure why politics would even need come up.

I don't care how my future agent votes as long as they believe in my book.

BJ Muntain said...

Christine: Our election will be about a year earlier than yours - and I'm already sick and tired of our politicians. I can only imagine what it must be like for folks in the US, when you have to listen to all the rhetoric before you even know who the party leader will be.

Colin Smith said...

BJ: That's one of the differences here in the US: the President isn't the party leader. He's registered to that party, but the party leader is a different job altogether. In theory, if Donald Trump was elected President, he could have Hillary Clinton in his cabinet, or even choose her as Vice President. Now that would be an interesting four years... ;)

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks Colin. I didn't know that. It just always seemed so odd that first there was voting for the leader, then the election...

Colin Smith said...

BJ: I think the Canadian system is probably closer to the British system, where you elect a party, and whoever is the leader of the winning party becomes Prime Minister. In the US, each party puts forward candidates for the presidency. People then vote on which candidate they want representing the party in the election. That's what the Primaries are all about. Each party will hold a convention sometime mid next year to officially declare their winning candidate. I could be wrong but I think the party convention could reject the results of the Primaries and choose a different candidate. So if Donald Trump won the Republican Primaries, at the Republican Convention they could decide to reject him and have Jeb Bush's toenail run instead. Again, I could be wrong about that. I know in years past the party candidate was decided at the convention. But I'm a naturalized citizen, so what do I know? :)

Pam Powell said...

Craig - I don't think you want to let Trump take you to lunch. I had breakfast with him years and years ago (a publishing event with hundreds of attendees - and I paid for my own breakfast). It was not entertaining. I have not once changed my opinion of him.

Susan - I'm right with you on the importance of an agent just being a damn good person. Same preference for political candidates, no matter the stripe. Actually, I'd love to see our representatives be damn good people from a wide-ranging political spectrum. The whole idea of representative government is to hear a wide range of ideas and let everyone kick the tires and come up with the best solutions.

Thanks, Janet! Good post!

Anonymous said...


Don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled to be on any list except the perpetual sh!t list.

Outlander just made the NYT best seller list for the first time not long ago. Think about that one. If I weren't tired and busy I would look up Diana's comments about the books and lists. She's hoping the television series and renewed interest in the early books will give her a complete list of best seller for the series. It would be a nice coup.

Colin Smith said...


I have to say, I've had OUTLANDER on my TBR for a long time. Since you started talking about Diana Gabaldon, I've become more intrigued about reading it. Your passive publicity is working! ;) Seriously, I plan to check it out soon.

Craig F said...

Poof, I know what the Trump is. He came to my town a while ago. He was carrying a big sign that said TRUMP TOWER. He talked to city commission into free land, planted his sign and talked the moving and shakers into pre-buying a bunch of the units. Then he declared it bankrupt and walked away with all of the money.

It is about the entertainment value. I have never been in a public place with a person with political tourettes. I could be fun.

Susan said...

Poof!: It can be that simple if we let it. I read a quote from Thomas Paine's "Common Sense" in high school that was something along the lines of "My country's the world, my religion is to do good." I've lived by that ever since. It's not about having a political or theological ideology--it's just about being a decent human being. Period.

BJ: Thanks for reiterating my point. :)

Christina and Colin: You both expressed my own views regarding the agent-author relationship much more succinctly than I could!

Adele: No matter which way you look at it, values (or lack thereof) are going to come into play by the way you interact and the decisions you make together. It's a partnership, a relationship, and I don't think those things can be mutually exclusive. Well, they can, but it's probably going to cause a lot of friction.

I think it comes down to end-goal again. What do you want out of your career? What's your prime motivation? There's no right or wrong answer to that, I just want to point out that values can be simple: such as being honest and devoted, as you described you're looking for in an agent.

Personally, I want to have a successful career, but equally important is having a successful career in accordance with my values. That's what I value. If that weren't the case, I'd probably still be working in corporate culture! :)

Pam Powell said...

Craig - I'm just saying that if you let Trump buy your lunch it could 1) be inimical to the taste 2) make you an ungrateful guest if you give an honest accounting of any tourettes incident thereafter. Pay for your own lunch - it's the price of your freedom.

Susan - well said. Thanks!

Unknown said...

"It's interesting that you use the word institutionalized to describe the bias you think you've illustrated. Publishing isn't an institution, it's an industry. Some of us may belong in an institution"

YAS! :) I needed that laugh.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Soon debut authors may have to put in their bio lines, "My wordbaby is left/ right handed."

CynthiaMc said...

I am a rare creature in theatre world - conservative Catholic actor married to my first husband. My friends are everything from liberal to atheist to Jewish to just about anything you can name. The joke in the show I'm doing right now is I am playing a Democrat and my partner (it's a 2-person play) is playing a Republican. He's not.

For the most part I keep my mouth shut. Sometimes the topic is an important one and conscience requires I speak out. The things I write about are things I care about.

Hello I-4 neighbor.

DeadSpiderEye said...

There's a particular instance I know of, an erstwhile political figure had his office contact an agent, not a literary one I should add, the agent's spouse answers the phone. That might seem odd but I can assure you this is case of a tight ship with a turnover in the B's, not a one man band. Anyway she immediately declines the invitation, knowing her husband's thoughts on this individual and his politics. There's the inevitable, oh I had a phone call, while you were out of the office, conversation, at which juncture there is a minor exchange, illustrating the difference in his attitude towards exercising this kind of prejudice, which could be summarised as, money is money whoever it comes from.

What that incident illustrates is that there is a wide disparity over where individuals set the bar for their personal convictions to play a significant role in their business life. That decision is dependent upon how they view integrity within business, how secure they are in exercising their personal prejudice and how much they're willing to compromise their personal convictions.

Yes there is broad exercise of discretion based on perceived political orientation. Unfortunately, where that does occur it's pretty much intransigent and even more unfortunately the criteria applied in such decisions are almost always based on a trivial and tribalistic dichotomy, rather than any appreciable philosophical grounds. It's not universal though, for the reasons I've stated and there's no reason to bang your head against a wall that's not going to shift. Possibly a particular bias maybe endemic throughout the publishing trade, in which case that would certainly impinge on polemical views but the sands of time are ever shifting and so is political bias.

Library Romp said...

This is so true. I'm a children's book author and just released Pixie And The Green book Mystery. finding a literary agent or publisher is very difficult for conservatives like myself. My work is not preachy, just a sweet wholesome story about a girl saving the fairytales at her library. But I do not have the multicultural agendas publishers are wanting. And it doesn't help that I'm from Texas. Your know we worship God and have guns down here. ;-)

I thank you for the insight and welcome any suggestions in how a conservative gets published in a left ideological market?

God Bless,

Coraline Grace