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February 2018

How to get an agent and/or published for the beginner

Something happened today that made me decide a few things need to be addressed for authors out there trying to get agents and/or published. Someone asked how to get an agent and/or published, and I answered them. When I read their reply, I went back to read their original post and saw, to my astonishment, something I had missed earlier, something I had assumed differently. See, this was a forum specifically for authors seeking agents, but their question said they don’t want money, they just want the “support” of an agent.

That’s a waste of agents’ time, folks. If you have no intentions of following their rules and/or making money, don’t waste their time and yours by querying. And that’s what his answer was. He was an artist who would do whatever, however he wanted with his art. OK. That’s fine and dandy, but no agent is going to support any author. They’re going to represent professional authors.

So for those of you out there dying to be a professional author, here are some basic do’s and don’t’s:

  1. Do your homework. Aka, read every article, blog post, book on the topic. Soon you’ll be able to skip the bogus and go straight for the true, tossing the garbage left and right over your shoulders. This takes years, yes years, to learn, and you still won’t learn it all. Like ever.
  2. Finish the book. Publishers don’t give advances for partial books, and agents will toss you in the trash without so much as a rejection letter. (This is for fiction only. Non-fiction is a completely different world and is not discussed here. If you are specifically wanting to pitch a non-fiction, this post may help you some, but is not directed towards you in any way shape or form) If an agent gets really bored and feels really sorry for you, you might get a letter that says, “Finish a book before querying.”
  3. Self-edit the book. Go over the book. Over and over and over the book. Publishers and agents do not want your rough drafts. Instant rejection without reply.
  4. Buy the latest copy of the Writer’s Market, preferably in your genre, if available. These can be found at the library too sometimes.
  5. Don’t post your book online. I know I post WIP’s. Those are just tiny snippets of whatever I’m working on. There are people who post their whole book online and then ask for representation, and get this, with a link to where their book is posted online included in their query. Biiiiig no no. No one wants to publish a book available for free elsewhere. (This was what “the artist” wanted to do.)
  6. Don’t pitch to publishers until you exhaust all your agents. Agents can’t sell a book to a publisher that’s already turned it down. (Most publishers don’t take unsolicited manuscripts anyway.)
  7. The literary world is small and has a memory. Don’t burn your bridges. If you continuously insist on querying agents/publishers that don’t represent your type of work, in a way they specifically ask people not to, or without being professional, when you finally do write the next best-seller, it’ll be thrown in the trash without being read.

This is by no means an answer to every question. Nor is it meant to be. But it will get you started. If you are unwilling to follow these rules, don’t query. There’s nothing wrong with posting your beautiful literary work online for the world to read, print it on a T-shirt, I don’t care, but don’t waste an agent’s time by querying them if you’re not serious as a professional author. Please.

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This one’s an easy post, and it’s quite common, but not like you think. See, sexual harassment by co-workers is one thing, but what if it’s from the customers?

Lots of waitresses flirt their way through tips, and put up with more than they should to get what they can, but I’m not a waitress. I work in a retail store. A large retail store than spends more money on their lawyers every year than I will make in a lifetime. And I am harassed almost daily by customers.

Yesterday I had an incident where a creepy old man put his arm around me and gave me one of those side hugs. I scooted my way into the cartpusher who was standing next to me. I don’t know this old man. I don’t want to know this old man. If I say, “Don’t touch me,” I can only imagine how that would go over, so I have to save it for when it’s really necessary.

What? You thought an old man hugging me was really necessary? It depends. That’s almost considered normal where I work, which is so so sad. I know of one girl in particular who is harassed by one customer that comes in there. Whenever he comes around, her supervisor tells her to run hide/take a break until he leaves. That’s ridiculous. NO workplace should have a policy that stupid. But mine does.

But aside from that, I was surrounded by other customers and co-workers. Yes, I probably should have told him not to touch me. I was more in shock than anything else. Hopefully I’ll be more prepared next time. I mean, don’t get me wrong. If I had been someplace other than work, I would have hit him, yelled at him, and who knows what else. (I’ve been in that position before, and yes, I defended myself quite well without hesitation) But at work? My options are far more limited. But they shouldn’t be.

I asked a big guy I work with as he walked by if the customers ever touch him. Why yes, feminists, they do. Although he did admit it’s not near as much as “we girls up front” have to put up with. I asked other men there. They’ve all had their fair share, some more than any woman I know that works there. One guy had a female customer reach out and grab a handful of buttcheek. She then told him she wanted to take him home with her. He told her he didn’t appreciate what she did and no, he would not go home with her. And unfortunately, that was the end of it.

So here’s the gist. If a person touches you in an unwanted way or says something you don’t appreciate on the street, you are not looked down upon for physically defending yourself or speaking harshly to them. Just imagine if you reacted that way to a customer. This shouldn’t be a problem. Anyone should be allowed to react the exact same way at work as they would in public.

But here’s the other thing. Let’s say I go public with this. Let’s say this guy harasses me to the point I’m one of the ones that has to hide too, and I call news stations. I lose my job. But see, I’m not a millionaire actress who can afford to retire and never work again or sell a book on the whole event just because I’m famous. I’m nobody. I’m the lowest of the low. If I go public and get fired and sue the company and this and that, no one will hire me afterwards. Nobody. Let’s say I win the lottery and sue the company or something. All they have to do is sue me, get all my money, and then I’m still broke and jobless.

And this, folks, is why harassment at work still exists, and always will exist, until the employer allows us to fight back. And this, is why no one talks about what happens.

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