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The Agency Has Come Forward

This post was written by me and Sherwood.

The unnamed agency in our previous post has chosen to present their perception of the exchange. We confirm that it was the agency we referred to. We stand by every word we wrote in our original article.

We did not wish to name them, because we preferred to focus on the larger issues. We did not spread rumors about them, and we don't know who did.

This is why we went public: After the initial exchange a month ago, we spoke in private to a number of other writers, without mentioning the name of the agent or agency. There was an overwhelming response of "Me too!" Many other writers had been asked by agents and editors to alter or remove the minority identity of their characters, sometimes as a condition of representation or sale. Sometimes those identities had been altered by editors without the writers' knowledge or permission.

That response, and posts like Malinda Lo's recent statistics make it clear that the problem is much larger than a couple of writers and one specific agency.

We urge you all to continue focusing on the bigger picture.

Discussion is welcome but abuse and name-calling is not. Please do your best to be civil.

ETA: Since several people asked: I do have an agent for my nonfiction, Brian DeFiore. He's great. The work Sherwood and I do together is very different from what we both do solo, and we wanted an agent to represent us as a team.

Crossposted to Comment here or there.


( 58 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
One of the things that deeply concerns me about the way publishers handle this sort of thing- Running Press did the same thing during the Trisha Telep blowup- is that they immediately scramble to not only say "nuh-uh! Did not!" but also seem very willing to throw writers under the bus in the process. I'm thinking specifically of the Christopher Navratil PW post in which he implicitly compared Jessica Verday's response to homophobia to Tyler Clementi's suicide. When publishers have the backing of a multi-layered company and authors have only themselves + whatever readers choose to stand by them . . . there's a power imbalance, and it disturbs me. And I hate the way it's almost always turned into "author versus publisher" by the publishers' response rather than "we didn't intend to do this, but clearly it's a problem; it needs addressing." As long as publishers are more interested in deflecting blame than they are in actually engaging with the topic, we're not going to get anywhere.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:29 pm (UTC)
I am sorry that the agency has chosen to make it all about you in particular, when you were careful to make your post not about them. The slam at not only your veracity but your saleability -- "why won't their own agents represent that?" is beside the point.

I do wonder/worry how the name got out. (Not blaming you, just wondering who leaked.)
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:37 pm (UTC)
I do wonder/worry how the name got out. (Not blaming you, just wondering who leaked.)

It's possible that the agency defended itself vigorously behind closed doors, and it got out that way.

It's also possible that readers figured it out all by themselves. We mentioned that they were respectable and repped a bestselling YA dystopia. We didn't think that was that identifiable, but it may have been enough for people to put the pieces together.
(no subject) - mme_hardy - Sep. 15th, 2011 03:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evewithanapple - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:42 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry that the agency responded in that way. Not surprised, but still saddened.

Homophobia fucking sucks. I'm sad to see that they couldn't see what happened and learn from it.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
It's a shame that they've made their response personal and specific when you and Sherwood went to such effort to avoid doing so in the original post. I find it interesting that there's a very clear subtext in the response post that you accused them of homophobia when you in fact made quite explicit that you were not inferring personal views from marketing decisions.

It does sound, though, as if the grapevine mutated the message before it reached them.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
It does sound, though, as if the grapevine mutated the message before it reached them.

I wish people would read the article we actually wrote before jumping to conclusions about what we said.
(no subject) - mme_hardy - Sep. 15th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rachelmanija - Sep. 15th, 2011 03:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dancinghorse - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Sep. 15th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - buymeaclue - Sep. 15th, 2011 05:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - branna - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mme_hardy - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
As ever, Jim Hines is over fighting the good fight. I am sitting on my hands... there is really no point in engaging. I repeat, I am sad that it's all about them and therefore all about you.
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
It does go a long way to point out why writers are terrified to talk about this stuff.
(no subject) - dharma_slut - Sep. 16th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 03:49 pm (UTC)
I hereby dub this the Reverse Cinderella Reveal.

Sep. 15th, 2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
Wherein rather than the foot fitting the shoe, the mouth opens to reveal it?
Sep. 15th, 2011 04:15 pm (UTC)
As to the comment about the book being unsalable: I read the book. It was excellent.
Sep. 15th, 2011 04:30 pm (UTC)
They did contact us, saying they were excited about it . . .
(no subject) - asakiyume - Sep. 15th, 2011 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 04:29 pm (UTC)
No one likes to think they are part of the problem.

I really do think the bit about self-promotion was uncalled for. Yes, frankly you did get me interested in reading a book with an Asian gay character(Asians in Scifi/Fantasy don't get enough love), but I'm also extremely grateful for the linkage of YA LGBTQ and POC book list in your original post. If anything, you're using this to promote diverse fiction in general.

Also, in reading many of the comments all over the place, I am reconsidering some of the decisions I have made with my webcomic. Several characters' sexualities aren't mentioned because I don't want it to be viewed solely as a BL, since it's not a romance. But now I do realize it's important for a character's self-identity to be prominent in non-romance genres as well.
Sep. 15th, 2011 04:32 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - raeraesama - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - torrilin - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - raeraesama - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - torrilin - Sep. 15th, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - evewithanapple - Sep. 15th, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 05:36 pm (UTC)
I repeat myself repetitively
Wow, that was quick.

You guys were quite specific about not naming the agent, and you were also quite specific about focusing on what people could do, rather than blaming one person. The point is that market forces obvious, and taking the path of least resistance is also obvious, not that one person was a mustached villain.
(Deleted comment)
Re: I repeat myself repetitively - juliansinger - Sep. 15th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 05:54 pm (UTC)
I'm left wondering: Doesn't anyone take good notes during these meetings? I can type fast enough to produce a virtual transcript, and I'm sure most of the people reading this can too. Moreover, wouldn't the agency have had a written-out list of points to cover in the meeting? I have trouble believing they have so little to do that they can rely on memory to provide prompts for all the issues they'd need to cover, and that there would not be some file, paper or electronic, in which a note would go, to the effect of "We talked with X and Y on such-and-such a date and these issues were discussed; the agreed outcomes were a, b, c".

I mean, that's how I behave in those business situations. Because people forget.
Sep. 15th, 2011 06:03 pm (UTC)
I came in with a written list of bullet points to discuss. However, I didn't get to any of them, because most of the conversation got taken up by discussing whether or not it was okay for a character to be gay.
(no subject) - movingfinger - Sep. 15th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rosefox - Sep. 16th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lady_ganesh - Sep. 15th, 2011 10:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 06:35 pm (UTC)
Read your article and reposted it. Read their article, and if I had a bird or a new puppy, I'd be printing it out to use as...well, you know what I'd use it as. This is SUCH BULLSHIT I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU HOW ANGRY I AM.

Going to go kick something now.
Sep. 16th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
How do you print out a puppy? (ducks, runs)
Sep. 15th, 2011 08:15 pm (UTC)
I don't know what the truth of this situation is because I wasn't there, but I think that Publishers Weekly was the wrong platform for this discussion and that it was irresponsible of Rose to take sides in the first place given her position. Here is my comment on the matter which is currently awaiting moderation at PW.

I am an author. I am not represented by Nancy Coffey Literary, but I have friends who are. I do not think what Rachel and Sherwood are saying in this article is true, and I am very upset that PW allowed it to be posted without fact-checking. I am also upset that Rose closed comments on the follow up post at, but I'm commenting here because I think that it was wrong for Rose Fox to post an article like that without fact checking it, and even more wrong of her to do that as someone who is in a position of power to affect author's careers.

I am afraid to speak out under my real name because I'm afraid PW and Rose will give my books bad reviews because I criticized her for doing this. I know some people will think that is unfair, but since she allowed two authors to post something which could damage an agent's professional reputation without fact checking or any PROOF that this happened at all other than their word, I do not trust her to be impartial in reviews either. I spoke to my agent and she said my fears were reasonable and that she felt the same way but would not say anything in public because she didn't want to risk hurting her clients by having Rose Fox or Publishers Weekly give them bad reviews.

I don't know if Rose/PW will even allow this comment to be posted or if they'll censor it, but if other authors or agents are reading this and share my concern I hope they will say so, even if we have to be anonymous. Then maybe Rose's boss or the powers that be at Publishers Weekly will address this situation responsibly and not allow PW to become a platform for unsubstantiated accusations of this kind in the future.
Sep. 15th, 2011 08:41 pm (UTC)
I don't know what the truth of this situation is because I wasn't there,
I do not think what Rachel and Sherwood are saying in this article is true,

One of these things is not like the oooother.

Plus, are you actually claiming that publishers and agents never whiten or straighten characters?
(no subject) - beth_bernobich - Sep. 15th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - tool_of_satan - Sep. 15th, 2011 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nihilistic_kid - Sep. 15th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - icecreamempress - Sep. 15th, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - yeloson - Sep. 15th, 2011 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 15th, 2011 10:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rosefox - Sep. 16th, 2011 01:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 15th, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
I blogged about this two days ago but I've just found out your LJ name, so I'm telling you now: Good luck with your novel, I'm looking forward to reading it, hopefully soon. *friending you*
Sep. 15th, 2011 09:33 pm (UTC)
Followup on "Say Yes to Gay YA"
User swan_tower referenced to your post from Followup on "Say Yes to Gay YA" saying: [...] our response to their manuscript that is true." Brown and Smith stand by their original article. [...]
Sep. 15th, 2011 10:12 pm (UTC)
I would be a lot more willing to assume good faith on their part were it not for the catty insinuation that your book must suck since you needed a new agent for it. (Because all agents represent all types of manuscripts so long as they don't suck, of course.) Also, jumping to the assumption of "exploiting the agent!" instead of "maybe there was a misunderstanding" didn't do anything for me either. (Because attempts by parties with less power to exploit parties with more power in a professional relationship generally work so well.)
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:04 pm (UTC)
Sep. 15th, 2011 10:29 pm (UTC)
What the publisher wrote is so clearly a case of them covering their own asses and putting the blame for their privileging of heterosexual relationships in YA fiction on readers (its the readers who need to demand more LGBTQ fiction, they create the market, kind of crap), denying the heteronormativity they are engaged in ("she's my best friend, she can't be homophobic!), derailing the conversation (claiming your book must have sucked anyway) and ad hominem attack (those authors, they are lying liars!) In short, that post of theirs is a hot mess, and they are the ones who come out looking like they have something to hide, not you guys!
Sep. 15th, 2011 10:50 pm (UTC)
You guys have been class acts during all of this. I really admire your professionalism.
Sep. 16th, 2011 01:08 am (UTC)

You two are, and remain, a class act who were not intending to mention names, but instead to address the actual issue.

As for the other party: if the shoes fits, folks, wear it.

(They're also attracting some support of the kind of that people don't usually want to see lined up on their side.)

Sep. 16th, 2011 02:57 pm (UTC)
This kind of smearing means you guys did something right. Stay strong. Y'all are awesome.
Sep. 16th, 2011 04:09 pm (UTC)
The TOO MANY TABS! linkfest
User fantasyecho referenced to your post from The TOO MANY TABS! linkfest saying: [...] (And he's a Republican!) And stuff regarding the #SayYestoGayYA: The Agency Has Come Forward [...]
Sep. 16th, 2011 05:45 pm (UTC)
User trobadora referenced to your post from #yesGayYA saying: [...] that article concerning our response to their manuscript that is true. The authors, of course, say [...]
( 58 comments — Leave a comment )


Rachel M Brown

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