The Boys Become Talent Agents in “Wing” Episode 903

This silly episode is making fun of a real person who ABBA song-stylings you can actually hear on the internet at the address provided at the end of the episode. What a weird thing for South Park to have found and made fun of. However, the topic does give the show an opportunity to mock one of its favorite topics: Hollywood.

By calling the agent-client structure stupid and wrong, they are criticizing the blood-sucking leeches that take the hard-earned money of talented people, often by doing nothing.

What do you think of the Hollywood agent system? Did you like this episode? Do you think Wing is talented?

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Topical Tuesday: Anger Strikes an Unpublished Writer, Prompting the Rest of Us to Say, Who Hasn’t Been There?

The following are my thoughts on the post that can be found on Absolute Write’s forum, “Rejection and Dejection,” and that I’ve posted at the end of this entry.
It’s Cold Out Here
The accusation he makes this whiner makes is that the publishing industry is a waste of time, that its agents are morons who don’t understand his genius (though you’ll notice a dozen typos in his few paragraphs) and that no one is concerned with anything but money and pandering to the hot genre’s crowds.
Now, do I understand the sentiments behind his bitching? Sure – who hasn’t had a tough day in the world of writing. It’s a rough industry to break into, has tight and finicky rules, and a lot of weird, accepted behaviors. Agents can ignore their signed clients; personally addressed letters often go unanswered; and numerous publishers can’t even be contacted without an agent. What’s more, most people don’t want to represent you if you haven’t already been published, making breaking into the industry incredibly difficult. But, hey, people do it all the time.
Money, money, money, money – MONEY!
The publishing industry is a business – everything about it. This guy is pissed that people care about money, but publishers and agents spend all their time doing doing their jobs. If they’re not in it for the money, what are they in it for? Should their children starve so that this guy and every other shmoe can have representation?
Look, it may be frustrating that he can’t get published but to think that it’s only about money – or that all the agents are stupid – is a pretty ridiculous accusation. Yes, agents and publishers may like to represent works that are part of hot genres but every agent’s site says his/her interests and they’re definitely out there for every genre. Quite, frankly, if enough agents (say, 50-100) want nothing to do with you and give you no real feedback, it’s probably not a sign that the industry sucks but rather, that you do. Either you’re querying the wrong people or you should take the hint and write something else, write a different way or just don’t write….at least not to be published.
What He Can Do
If you think your work is so great and you want other people to read it so bad and you think that the industry is corrupt, guess what! You have options! That’s right, get some copies of your book printed yourself. No, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re published, but at least you’re not part of a mechanism you hate. Pass them out or sell them on the internet. I’m sure you’ll sell a few. Maybe it will go so well that you can requery agents and get it picked up. Perhaps they needed proof of its potential success. Though they may know their industry (presumably, despite this guy’s accusation), everybody makes mistakes.
And, hey, if you try your hardest with dozens and dozens of letters and every other means at your disposal and still can’t get published or represented by an agent, does that necessarily mean your book sucks and you don’t deserve to be a published author? No, not really, but it does mean that you might want to rethink what you’re doing or writing. Maybe it’s not as good as you think, because if you were the next J.K. Rowling, don’t you think somebody, around rejection 19, would pick you up?
So to this guy: I feel you buddy, but you know what – it’s not the publishing industry. It’s life. You’ve got to learn to keep your head up and push through the good times and the bad. Sometimes a lot of people won’t like the product you’re offering. Welcome to a free market. Life can be filled with rejection and unfairness and be a place where people like money. Go figure. So suck it up, take a breather and try again later. And if that’s the way you really feel then I’m glad you finally think you’re free.
What do you think about these complaints? Do you think I’m being too harsh? To read other Topical Tuesday posts, click HERE. To check out Chandler’s thoughts on this post, click HERE.
This guy’s letter
I’ve had it with this B.S.

This is a stupid industry and I’m tired of wasting my time with it. I’m not going to send any more carefully crafted queries to mind-numbed morons totally incapable of understanding my thoughts. The same brainless poli-sci, english, and lit majors that looked at me blankly in my university days when they’d discover I was studying physics. A vacuous gaze followed by an imbecilic chuckle and a comment along the lines of, “I can’t talk to you.” If only I’d have known those idiots who wouldn’t talk to me then, would be running the industry that somehow sucked me in I could have avoided wasting the last decade.

I guess that jokes on me, and maybe I’d feel different if someone had actually had the balls to read something besides a f-ing query letter. But from the comfort of my home I can just feel their eyes glazing over as soon as they see a word with more than three syllables or an idea that doesn’t involve a cop, a lawyer, or a disgruntled housewife. Those who moan glowingly about their deep understanding of the written word yet don’t seem interested in anything that doesn’t involve vampires, the paranormal, or women’s lib. The world is a big place full of wonder and fantastical ideas and they’ve reduced it to a single cart-full of dung. Aristotle knew what that meant 2500 years ago.

Finito, over and out, tired of trying to bring something beautiful into a world run only by money and people who’s sole expertise begins and ends with counting it. There are better ways to waste my life than a shelf of miscarriages and a head full of impotent ideas.

Free at last!

Querying, Proposals, and Agents

As promised, I’ll say a bit about the process of getting an agent when you’re writing non-fiction. For fiction querying, check out Chandler’s blog (in my sidebar).

So, first thing’s first: an idea. After you have an idea, develop it. Come up with the layout and structure of your book, what you’ll be talking about and think long and hard about a few areas: your market and your qualifications. If you know those two things and your idea (and I mean well-researched, well thought out, etc.) then it’s time to draft a query letter.

This should cover those three things I just mentioned with a strong intro sentence and your most important area of the three coming first. For much more on this I recommend The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Getting Published . It’s very informative (go to to purchase this now) and will give you all the details you need. Make sure that dozens of people read and edit your very well-written query letter. One mistake and what kind of writer are you? Why would someone take a chance publishing your book? Change, revise and edit. You have this one page to make a great impression on every agent out there.

But before you send it, you should have done two other things: a proposal and a sample chapter. The proposal is a 10-15 page project that details your idea in full with a table of contents. There are also sections about your market (in detail), the publicity and promotion potential, you as an author and your qualifications, and a detailed chapter summary. And then there’s the sample chapter. That’s right, you should have written one of the proposed chapters (preferably the first) so that the agents know you can write, that you will write and so they can see the viability of the whole book.

The nice thing about nonfiction proposals is that, unlike fiction, you don’t have to write the whole book before it’s sold. The idea is that agents will ask you for a proposal and sample chapter after they read your query letter and you will be able to send them what you have. Fortunately, if no one thinks the idea is viable (and though they could be wrong 100 agent recommendations probably tells you that you’re doing something wrong or that the market for the book doesn’t exist) you won’t have written the whole book. That would have sucked. Once you get an agent, though, keep writing because although you don’t have a publisher yet (now that’s the agent’s job) it means the idea is workable and someone is actively trying to sell it.

One thing that is super important is following the rules. When you read a book about this subject do what it says. They’re professionals and they know. I have a great agent and as wonderful as my book idea may or may not be, I followed the rules of getting an agent and they like that – had I not followed the rules I definitely wouldn’t have an agent, no matter how great the idea. Sure, if you’re a seasoned writer you can probably bend them a bit, but if you’re striking out on your first writing adventure then do what you’re supposed to do if you want to be published.

Do you have an agent and was the process different? Do you want to share any advice with people looking for agents? Any questions about this process?

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Progress, Process, and Some Basics

Is the book finished yet? Have you started contacting publishers? What is the process like? – these are questions that I recently received from a friend, and they made me realize that I had not introduced the basics about myself and my book to you all yet, and that doing so, at this stage, would be most prudent.

So, my name is Jay Solomon and I am writing The Zen of South Park: Finding the Middle Ground in American Religion. The book is about the show South Park and the ways that it relates to and treats religion. It is meant as both a study of the show’s thoughts and opinions as well as a way of teaching religion and raising numerous relevant issues about religion in American society. Though the book is not yet complete, it is on its way. I’m a nut when it comes to editing, believing firmly in the adage, There are no great writers, only great editors. So, while the bulk of the body is written, I am still tweaking and seeking a few outside readers. After that is done I will step back and look at the project overall before writing the introduction and conclusion.

In the meantime I’ve launched the website and this blog, believing that they are important elements of the project. I want to make religion and religious topics more accessible for those who are curious but who do not feel strong personal connections themselves. Basically, studying and understanding religion in a secular way – historically and with no religious biases and hang-ups – is something I consider very important, and South Park has an excellent part in bringing an equitable approach to religion to the forefront. The show makes fun of it all. I want to discuss what they make fun of, why it’s funny and what issues are really being driven at. Feel free to contact me about any issue, historical, theological or otherwise, related to religion and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

As for the publication process, I do have an agent, and therefore, the publishing part is out of my hands (thank goodness). Her name Barbara Rosenberg (there is a link to her site on mine), and she’s fantastic. She handles finding a publisher for the book. It’s a slow and tedious process, but I’m sure it will pay off. When I’m done writing the book and have a publisher, the whole thing is out of my hands. I pretty much lose all creative control at that point over the look of the book, the price, where it’s sold and everything else. But I don’t mind – when it’s done, I want it to be done so that I can move onto the next project. But don’t worry, I’ll keep up the blog, maintain the website and plan my College Bookstore Tour.

Do you have any questions for me? Next Wednesday I’ll talk about the process of getting an agent with query letters and proposals. If you want to know how that works for fiction check out Chandler’s blog, but I’ll be talking about how querying for nonfiction works. Are you a published author? Would you like to talk about your experiences?

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