Thursday, October 22, 2020

“Republicans need not apply”

Happy Monday! On the #MSWL Twitter just now, an agent just tweeted the following: “If you're voting for Trump, please don't query me. It's nothing personal--I just think you're an immoral, selfish monster :)”

In the past, you’ve said that the primary motivation of agents is to sell books. I keep hoping that is true, but tweets of this ilk have shrunk my available query list, though this is the first one I’ve seen in the #MSWL hashtag.  I have never tweeted about politics and never plan to, my genre is paranormal fantasy, and in regards to your last week’s “clean up your social media” blog post, I have not now nor have I ever been an asshat on the interwebs. In that spirit, I will not query this agent per her preferences, but I’m wondering if this “Republicans need not apply” exclusion has a future. What do you hear in the ocean deep?

I really struggled with this.
About seven drafts later I think I finally know what to say.
(do you do this too? Write to figure out what you think?)

Do I think there will be some sort of political litmus test in the future, a modern day loyalty oath?

But I do think all agents have things they cull for. Just like you have things you cull your agent sub list for.

This agent was simply more outspoken and pre-emptive about hers.

I have a list of topics I don't take on.

I don't have a list of people I won't take on.

Well, ok, there's one kind of person who shouldn't query me. Someone who thinks it's ok to be rude to the junior staff.


Mister Furkles said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nightsmusic said...

Janet, your blogger link doesn't go anywhere except to blogger.

As to whether someone wouldn't rep me because of my political views, unless the book is political in nature, who cares? Why would it even come up? That's a ridiculous statement by that agent who is cutting off her nose.

I have a friend of 50+ years who is the exact opposite of me politically. Let me say that again, I have a friend of 50+ years who is the exact opposite of me politically. And for all those years, right from the beginning, it hasn't changed. Basing whether you like someone/would rep someone/would sit down and have dinner with someone who is politically opposite of you as your litmus test is what's wrong with the world today.

AJ Blythe said...

Gosh, that's a weird thing to exclude writers on. As the thing that is important is the writing, not your personal values, I don't think this will become a thing. Although an agent who states things like that is probably someone I would avoid.

Janet, I tried to link through the rude junior staff link and it didn't work for me.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yes, I write to figure out the great mysteries of the universe, of how I feel about something, how to handle something.

An agent behaving like the one cited above, however, is not ok with me so I would not query her regardless of what group she excluded - if it was Democrats, Catholics, Muslims, straight, white men - any such group- this shows a very small, stunted mind to me. I don't want someone so small-minded representing my writing.

Now, if she said something like - no rapists or child molesters or serial killers- those really are immoral, each and every individual in the group because of what they do. Someone who votes this way or that way - that is more nuanced than 'all of them are evil, evil I tell you'.

C'mon people. Really? Claiming all of this politically or religiously affiliated group is immoral is small-minded, intolerant, and hateful. We can do better.

We must do better.

Sometimes I write things here to figure out what I think and then publish my comment before coffee. Sometimes writing a comment here wakes me up. But I feel like I can say stuff here. And that is cool. I hope that remains the same going forward.

Kitty said...

do you do this too? Write to figure out what you think?

LOL! Everything I write.

Colin Smith said...

I have to add my voice to the chorus here. An agent who makes a vote for one of the two major US political parties a test of moral character is not an agent I want to work with.

Besides, I don't recall one's voting record being a part of anyone's query requirements. At least not yet... 🙄

Mister Furkles said...

It is a good thing that this agent is admitting to such bigotry. If any agents are so bigoted against the Democrats or the Republicans how else are they so opinionated that rational behavior is beyond their ability?

Rattlesnakes rattle and you know to avoid them. Irrational people don't always let you know until you are damaged by them.

Close to a hundred million people will vote for Trump and close to a hundred million people will vote for Biden. The belief that either group is entirely evil is a clear indication of a severe personality disorder.

You don't want to deal with that agent. Be glad that their personality flaw is given. Rattlesnakes let you know. Other vipers don't.

Leslie said...

There is a scary movement to shun and exclude people from society for the crime of not sharing certain political beliefs.

I Googled that tweet so that I could block the agent who wrote it -- I never want to inadvertently query (or have friends query) someone with such poor judgment. I don't care about her politics or anyone else's, but if she feels compelled to dehumanize a significant portion of US citizens, I don't trust her overall intelligence.

While I searched that exact phrase, I came across this blog post. I've never heard of this woman, but she is a clear example of this growing movement to cancel people.

If you think you're safe because you hold the "correct" views, it'll only be a matter of time before the pendulum swings back and those who suffered decide that turnabout is fair play. I have friends from both sides, but I refuse to have anything to do with extremists. Especially those eager to dehumanize those who don't adequately fall in line.

"I want to shun you from my community.

If gatherings were safely happening, I want you to be shunned from all events hosted by decent people. No wedding invitations. No conference tickets. No backyard barbecues.

I want decent event hosts to send you a card, explaining you are not invited because you are a Trump supporter.

I wish stores like Ikea and Target wouldn’t let you buy their products.

I wish your internet provider (who for sure knows you’ll be voting for Trump), would cut you off as a customer.

I want to see you shunned by every person and organization that doesn’t support Trump. No more access to their books, movies, products, music, events, artists & influencers — till you are left with nothing but Smashmouth concerts, and Ben Shapiro talking about his sex life."

1newDean said...

When you exclude writers who hold different political views you are showing the world you discriminate. Is it okay? What if she excluded black, gay or being Canadian? Would she hear a backlash? Yep. So as long as you discriminate against the flavor of the month it is okay? I voted Trump. Ban me.

Colin Smith said...

P.S., I did as Leslie did and Googled the quote. Frankly, I'm not too surprised to find out who tweeted this. But reading the replies to her tweet is an object lesson in what's wrong with the US at the moment. I have to ask, have any of these people asked why the Trump supporters they so vilify support Trump? And I don't mean as a philosophical exercise. I mean actually sat down and had a conversation with them. If, as a writer (and this agent is also a writer), you refuse to try to understand why someone holds views with which you disagree, I don't know how you can write anything other than stereotypes and straw men, neither of which make for interesting characters.

S.P. Bowers said...

(do you do this too? Write to figure out what you think?)

Which is why I'm a pantster.

Dena Pawling said...

Then there are voters like me who can't stand either of the candidates. For the past few elections, voting has been an exercise in holding my nose to avoid too much stench as I vote for whichever candidate I view as the lesser of the evils. I long for the days when I could honestly say I was a "supporter" of one or the other, but apparently those days are gone.

PAH said...

I'mma just jump in and say it.

Tweets like these, ideas like these... are exactly WHY I will be voting for Trump.

Melissa said...

PAH, most people don't believe like this agent. Twitter tends to amplify the most divisive people. If I post that I support people from both sides that's not going to go viral. Vote for the candidate that best supports the issues that matter to you, not out of spite at a random agent whose opinion doesn't matter.

I do love that she starts out with 'it's not personal,' then insults everyone. Sigh. I can't wait for the election to be over. Signed, an exhausted independent.

Janet Reid said...

thanks for the info on the bad link.
Fixed now (Ihope) at 10am.

I hate this new Blogger template with ALLMYHEART.

Rebecca Taur said...

Not as much about the agent specifically, but as a reader, I avoid authors with certain (outspoken) political opinions because how they see the world affects their writing. Lovecraft was racist and anti-immigrant, and a lot of his horror involves the fear of unknown, different people.

When Trump talks about what Americans should fear, I disagree with most of what he says. Would I really enjoy a horror book written by someone whose fears I blatantly disagree with as much as one written by someone whose fears I share or who fears something I haven't considered?

Colin Smith said...

Rebecca: For me, it would depend on whether it's a good story. As a Christian, most of the fiction I read is written from a worldview with which I disagree. And many characters in those worlds hold opinions I wouldn't hold. Where I have a problem is when the ideology IS the story. For example, if the agent in question wrote a novel where one of the characters had a dislike of Trump supporters or conservatives, and that somehow was relevant to the plot (perhaps this character has to work with a Trump supporter or conservative in order to save her life), I can roll with that. But if the agent's entire novel is a screed against Trump or conservatism such that it obscures or overshadowed the story, that would be a DNF for me pretty quickly.

Julie Weathers said...

At least she puts it out there to warn everyone not to query her if you don't want to work with a bigoted agent. I think there are probably a lot more who feel exactly the same way and are probably checking social media of prospective clients to see if they are Trump supporters, but they aren't bold enough to come right out and say it.

It's sad that we can no longer accept that in America we have the right to vote for whomever we please and it's none of anyone else's business, but here we are.

Colin Smith said...

Rebecca (cont.) With regard to fears... yes, it's great as a writer if you can tap into universal fears. Fear of the unknown is basically at the root of most, if not all, fear. To your point, though, to take the current president as an example, fear of Trump is not necessarily a fear of Trump personally, but a fear of what might happen if Trump is given power for another four years. Now, if you love Trump, you're not going to resonate with that particular fear (which, I think, is the point you're making). But a good writer is not going to ask you to agree with that character's fear. A good writer will ask you to imagine what life must be like for that character. A well-written character will make it easy for you to get inside her head and stand in her shoes, to see the world from her point of view. And I think that's where fiction can be a powerful tool in our current cultural moment. Because once you can see the world from the point of view of people with whom you disagree, you start to see them as people, not as immoral, selfish monsters.

nightsmusic said...

Leslie posted a link to a proponent of the cancel culture. I read that post. While I'm not a scholar by any means when it comes to WWII, I've studied it quite a bit and my suggestion would be, read it. And replace every "Trump" or variation thereof, with the word Jew. Or Jewish. And then take a look at Goebbels play list. I've been saying this for probably three years now, but I'll say it here as well. If you think something like the German state leading up to and during WWII can't happen again, look around you. And while you might think, 'oh, that's just a small handful of people,' that's how it started there as well. With their MSM fueling it at the time, all under the ever watchful eye of Goebbels and a party that wanted to cancel anyone that didn't agree with them.

CynthiaMc said...

Unfortunately this is very much a thing, particularly in the performing arts. I can't tell you how many directors, actors, etc. post "If you vote for Trump unfriend me now" followed by all kinds of vile epithets, followed by how they refuse to work with anyone who doesn't feel on every subject exactly the way they do, followed by a discourse on how open-minded and tolerant they are. My feeling is "If you want to unfriend me you need to exert the effort to do it your own dadgummed self." They don't because I don't discuss politics or religion or much of anything else besides the weather, gardening, and how is your cat?

I don't discuss politics because it's boring. I pretty much despise all politicians because nice people don't run for office.

I quit writing my dystopian "Descent Into Hell" because everything I wrote several years ago is coming true and I don't want to give them any ideas.

I am nice to everyone. Hannibal Lecter held the door for me the other day and I said "Thank you."

There is a reason why the Salem Witch Trials happened and we are perilously close to that now.

God help us all.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm not a fan of any of the political candidates but I know good people who will vote for each.

I do appreciate people who stand up for what they believe but fighting discrimination with more discrimination seems less than ideal.

I also hope to find an agent who focuses on the books.

PAH said...


Thanks for the positive and hopeful reply! But it's not out of spite. It's because of all industries, the Literary world should understand that there are some scary trends happening when it comes to freedom of speech.

For the longest time, I think there was this agreed upon idea that if the country headed toward anything like 1984 it would be because the religious Right. But what we are seeing from the Left right now is scary.

I feel like it went from, "As long as your books sell, I don't care" to more or less "Don't ask, don't tell" when it comes to a writer's politics in this overwhelmingly progressive industry. Then it moved to agents and publishers quietly blacklisting writers for their right-leaning views. And now, apparently, it is blatantly spoken. We are a stone's throw from censoring books. Shoot, just a few years ago a case went to the Supreme Court about the government having the right to ban political books in certain circumstances. This was a 9-0 vote against, right? No. It was 5 to 4.

While I understand my Democratic friends and why that platform might appeal to them -- and would have a beer with ANYONE to discuss ideas (and I am happy to be wrong and stupid about all sorts of things because FREEDOM) -- I cannot support what is happening on the Left today.

PAH said...


With you! There are some scary parallels, for sure. And I think there are two major misconceptions: 1) Nazi Party came out of the gate with black bagging and concentration camps. No. It was frogs in a boiling pot. It was orchestrated, slowly. And 2) this can't happen in America...

Anyone interested in a chilling essay on what it was like, as it was slowly happening in Germany, I recommend you read this:

Luralee said...

I Think this kind of thing has been going on for a long time. It’s just gotten more blatant now. I am surprised to see so many trump supporters speaking out here today, I would be afraid of backlash.

I have always thought it was common knowledge that in order to work in certain industries you had to toe the line or risk getting a dead cat in the mail.

I wouldn’t advertise conservative viewpoints if I wanted to make it in the arts. Why give them another reason to say no?

It shouldn’t be that way but it is. At least it’s being talked about here.

Emma said...

That is a very sad tweet and I also just googled so I know who it is. All of this feels very anti American to me. As someone who was born and grew up in a communist country, I always loved America because of the whole free speech, freedom of religion, etc., thing. I still love America, but nowadays it seems saying that brands you as an nazi. I love America because legally, at least for now, we can all say whatever we want and that agent is not going to get a knock on her door in the middle of the night and then get "disappeared" as a person would in a true totalitarian regime for saying something like that against the president.

Ugh. I think people who think it's okay to cancel others for their beliefs or opinions don't understand the true value of free speech.

But can you imagine a prospective employer asking you who you voted for before hiring you? You could sue them.

Just sayin.

Katja said...

"Republicans need not apply" isn't what this tweet says, though.
Only saying this because one of my Reefer friends always pretty strongly points out to me when I do 'misinterpretation'. 😉


Craig F said...

Darn, just starting to learn to avoid the pitfalls and punji sticks of the query trenches when landmines start showing up.

It is sad that America is in this position, so do what your duty is and vote. Weigh all the things you can find and vote, I wish every American could, so if not for you, vote for the disenfranchised.

I already did; I need that particular sword of Damocles removed. Thank Dog it will be over soon. I'll still be friends with a bunch who can currently call me enemy, I hope every one else can do that also.

Leslie said...

It's truly heartening to see so many people here speak out about freedom of speech and freedom of association, as well as the dangers of "cancel culture."

nightsmusic hit on exactly what I was thinking. I'm old enough to remember when political opponents online attacked each other by calling people "stupid" and "wrong." Then I watched as opponents were deemed "evil." And am not surprised to see that now one side is dehumanizing the other. Apparently, voting for Trump means that one should have all means of income, entertainment, human interaction, etc., taken away. That is not too far from forcing people to move out of the country, re-education camps, self-denunciations, etc.

During the riots a few months ago, some rando on Twitter who was obviously looking for things to feed her outrage her tweeted three times to my publisher, demanding to know why they support an author who wants New Yorkers shot in the streets. (I was upset and frightened over the attempted firebombing of my home and other violence, as well as how not one of my local or state elected officials even acknowledged the rampant violence and destruction here, let alone had anything to say about protecting us.)

What scares me is how do we, as a country, come back from this? Will we ever again be the United States of America?

Colin Smith said...

Katja: That thought crossed my mind also. But unfortunately, I'm sure the agent in question would equate "Republican" with "Trump supporter." Indeed, at this point, most Republicans probably plan to vote for Trump. Even those who were on the fence may have been pushed by this kind of rhetoric. This characterization is not accurate, however. Not ALL Republicans are voting for Trump. Though, as I said, my feeling is the majority are.

Luralee said...

Kudos to everyone taking a stand here. I wish I felt more comfortable doing so. The fear of the blacklist is real.

Brenda said...

Agreed re freedom of speech and all.

Having said that, we’ve all had imbecilic days on social media. I’ve vociferously leapt to the defense of authors whose position I wasn’t completely aware of, and then have had to pull back. These are stressful times for us all. Let’s cut the agent in question a little slack.


Katja said...

Colin Hmmm, "I'm sure" isn't the same as facts. I remember how you talked about facts only recently...

In general, although I am not fond of this agent's language or 'retoric' as you put it, all those Republicans voting for Trump should NOT get that worked up over this agent's language. It is widely used by Trump himself.

Leslie said...

Like Brenda, I'm usually in favor of cutting people slack and not crushing them over a bad social media post - the kind that usually come out of frustration or anger or some other immediate emotion. But this attitude is something I see more and more in the publishing community on Twitter. I first started noticing this when the George Floyd protests and riots began

Colin Smith said...

Katja: "I'm sure" = "I've seen a lot of this agent's political tweets, and while she hasn't said this explicitly, it would be consistent with everything else she has said." And I don't think it's just Republicans getting worked up about this agent's language. It's everyone, Left, Right, Center, and Undecided, who is unsettled by the fact that a literary agent would put someone's voting record over the quality of their work when deciding who to represent.

Katja said...

Colin, okay, you can have the last word. Again. 😆

Just a quote that doesn't sound particularly unsettled:

"But I do think all agents have things they cull for. Just like you have things you cull your agent sub list for.

This agent was simply more outspoken and pre-emptive about hers."

Matt Adams said...

Okay, before we get too far afield here:

It wasn't the left who promoted a Constitutional Amendment against flag burning.
It wasn't the left that turned the pledge of allegiance into a required statement at the beginning of public events, and then shamed those who did not participate.
It wasn't the left who cancelled the Dixie Chick and Natalie Maines for 15 years based on an innocuous, anti-war comment.
It wasn't the left who has promoted censorship of school texts on religious grounds.
It wasn't the left who insulted football players for showing their support for a political moment that mattered to them.
It's not a left candidate who is insisting schools teach American Exceptionalism or lose funding.
It's not the left that implied all Muslims are jihadists and therefor should be banned form entry to the country, or that South American immigrants are raping, murdering M13 members who are moving to the suburbs.

Everyone is entitled to their views, and the agent in question is a jerk who's a large part of the problem in the country now. But let's not suggest that censorship of ideas -- or cancelling someone -- only goes in one direction.

Tess Rook said...

As a Canadian, with no voting rights or say in the Presidential election, my input is probably silly. However:

If a cake shop is able to refuse to serve same-sex couples...

If social workers are able to refuse to assist LGBTQ+ or disabled clients...

If doctors can refuse medical care to trans people...

Then surely an agent can refuse to represent a Trump voter.

It only seems fair to me.

Katja said...

Yes, Tess! And an agent is NOT an employer. A writer and an agent would have a clos-ish relationship, it seems. And I'm not saying this because I like this particular agent!

In fact, her boss - president of this agency - is a guy I have been in contact with on Twitter over a longer period of time. Because he is German. We talk about football (soccer for Americans), and he and I fiercely disagree on who should be the German national team's manager. It is the language he uses to describe the German manager that has struck me. And for that reason (amongst two others - one writing related, one not) I culled him, even though he hinted in a tweet "I could work with you".
Lots of people can't work closely with one another and choose not to.

This agent should have phrased her tweet/choice very differently though. I totally agree with that.

Leslie said...

Katja, she referred to people who support Trump as not human.

Same Ghost said...

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who's Hispanic or Latino/a/x.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who’s gay.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who’s trans.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who’s black.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who has a preexisting condition they otherwise couldn't get insured for.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who's died of COVID.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who's survived sexual assault.

Maybe this agent is, or knows someone, who served in the Armed Forces.

The agent did not say "Republican." This agent said "voting for Trump."

Rebecca Taur said...

Colin: whoops, I think I didn't get my point across too clearly. I'm not referring to certain characters' opinions but the ways an author's views affect the stories they want to tell and how they tell them. For example, I'm fine with a sexist character, but if every female character is described in a dehumanizing way, I stop reading.

With Trump, in particular, I disagree with the view that immigrants are destroying America or that our way of life is threatened by that. If I'm reading, and a character has that fear, it's totally fine (I agree with everything you said about characters and the importance of fiction today). But if the story is about the struggle to preserve our old way of life while outside minorities try to destroy it, I would notice, and it would pull me out of the story. It's the same as when I have conversations with Trump-supporting relatives, who tell me that without Trump, A, B, and C will happen, and I am not afraid no matter how well they make their point, because I support A, B, and C.

Writer of Wrongs said...

I also googled the quote in question and had never heard of that particular agent (sorry!). But I know of another agent who has made comments in a similar vein and is unkind in general. Her political tweets are far more frequent than her writing/agenting tweets, to the point I usually scroll past with just a glance. I won’t query her, because I couldn’t work with her unkind attitude.

As for Dem vs. GOP — I’m a bit jaded. I’ve worked in politics for the better part of two decades, for/with/around members of both parties. And behind closed doors, there’s not much difference between any of them. *Nobody* gets to claim the high ground. The only reason some seem better than others is that the others are so breathtakingly awful.

Timothy Lowe said...

Adults with social media sometimes act like kids with adult beverages. I’ve been doing some firsthand research with some terrifyingly smart teenagers. They think we’re ridiculous. The good news is, the kids are all right. The bad news is, these kids aren’t old enough to vote.

Allison K Williams said...

I have no problem with people whose political views oppose mine. I have a problem with people who support a racist, credibly-accused-of-sexual-assault, child-cager who wants to take away both my health insurance and the place with a sliding scale that treated my cancer when I had no health insurance.

I don’t want to do business of any kind with those people. It’s not bigotry to discriminate based on your choice of political candidate, because that’s not inherent to who you are.

This is not a normal time where everyone gets a fair say and gosh I don’t agree with Bob but he’s still my neighbor. This is a crisis of both our morality and our democracy and there are not two valid sides.

daffd said...

A debate over whether or not to raise taxes is a political issue. Voting for someone who takes children away from their parents because they don't have the right passport is a moral issue. I think it's hilarious that Trump supporters feel umbrage that they're considered freaks or outliers because they're voting for a guy who is okay with taking away people's health insurance then saying, "But it's just my political opinion!" Like, "It's just my political opinion that we should kidnap people from Africa and make them pick our cotton for no pay. And also it should be okay to sell off their children." Trump voters really and honestly just don't understand what they're doing wrong. They are literally like mentally handicapped children. They just need to be put in a corner and handed a glue stick where they can't cause any (more) harm to the decent human beings. I would love to know that agent's name. If Janet turns me down, I'll be querying her in a heartbeat.

Leslie said...

It's really nobody's damn business how other people vote. And some of the self-righteous sanctimony is gag-inducing.

It was the Obama-Biden administration that separated illegal alien kids from their parents and put them in cages.

Biden has been credibly accused of sexual assault, and his many racial comments are cringe-inducing:

"If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

"You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."

It was the Obama-Biden administration that took away the health insurance that I liked and made me pay higher premiums with huge deductibles. They made it so that I could not get cancer treatment at Sloan Kettering without paying out of pocket for everything, with no reimbursement.

I'm appalled at the Dems' "morality" in refusing to condemn blatant anti-Semitism, as well as their inability to condemn the Antifa/BLM riots of a few months ago (in which I was almost murdered). Every single one of my elected officials -- from city council to state legislators to mayor, governor, US senators, US House Rep -- is Democrat and not one had anything to say about those of us harmed by the riots. They had plenty to say when gushing and drooling over the protests (despite it being during the height of COVID), but even when I emailed and asked them to at least mention the rest of us, I was ignored.

I'm tired of virtue signaling masquerading as actual decency.

But I would NEVER try to deny people a career based on their political beliefs, as this agent (and others) is doing. In the quote from some mommy blogger I pasted way up in the comments, there are people who want Trump voters to not be allowed to shop in stores, have internet access, be allowed to attend concerts and other entertainment, etc. I've also heard some who want to force all Trump supporters to leave the country.

So spare me the moral indignation

Diana said...

Unpopular opinion time here, I suppose. While I think it was stupid for the agent to put something like that out there so brazenly, I personally would not be particularly interested in working with a person who supports a candidate who actively doesn't believe that I or any number of my friends deserve basic human dignity.

So like, would I go around trying to flush out my colleagues' votes? No, because it's not any of my business. But if it does come up - and much as we writers may not want to believe this, it *will* come up in this case because your beliefs inevitably seep into your writing - I would not be particularly eager to continue working with someone if I do find out they support a candidate who actively hates my existence.