Enough were offended that there was talk of doing #agentfail, where writers would
It's gotten to the point where some agents have felt the need to respond. (And yes, I'm sure the irony has been noted.) Nathan Bransford is running an Agent-For-a-Day contest (no, thanks), Janet Reid has been introspective and even somewhat apologetic, and Kristen Nelson thinks the hullabaloo is an unnecessary distraction that won't change a thing. (She's right.)
But what the agents should be doing is nothing. They should not be responding, reflecting, explaining, apologizing, defending, or any other thing that ends in "ing," and here's why:
Agents receive a ridiculous amount of queries, which means that there are a lot of people with manuscripts out there--far more than there are agents who could realistically represent them. That puts power in the hands of the agents. They are, in effect, bouncers standing in front of a very exclusive club that everyone wants to get into. Bouncers do not need a reason to keep you from entering, and, in fact, should not be giving reasons because doing so invites counter-arguments and complaints.
It reminds me of something I once heard Donald Trump say. Here's the quote:
"In fact, I fired somebody yesterday and I took 20 minutes to explain to him why he can do better outside of my company. I do it nice and easy. Of course, they wake up the next morning, they hate you anyway because they realize, hey, I just got fired."
And that's the point. These writers who complain about agents aren't doing anything to help themselves and the primary reason they're upset is because they haven't succeeded and they need to blame someone other than themselves. Every rejection and perceived slight becomes a personal affront. Agents, take my advice and take a page from The Donald. Quit justifying what you do and why you do it, because at the end of the day (hate that phrase), your rejection is still a rejection, no matter how nice you are about it.*
*Unless it's my manuscript. In that case, all the feedback you can muster would be highly appreciated because, as we all know, I'm far more important than other writers.