Literary Agents

I’m your Server Not your Servant will include war stories, insights, frustrations, fears, pet peeves, humiliations, joys, hopes, humorous tales, and triumphs compiled from my own experience and the research I’ve conducted with hundreds of people over several years. The book will also provide suggestions on how people can become better customers, and how we can all better serve each other every day.

The book will be much different from anything currently on the market.  The scope is more expansive than my individual experiences as a server, and much broader than what it’s like to work in a restaurant. The book will draw upon thousands of conversations I’ve had with workers from all walks of life, as well as written responses to a questionnaire I sent out to several hundred people.

One literary agent I spoke with asked me, Why will 10,000 strangers buy your book? I replied that every single person I spoke with about the book couldn’t wait to chime in with their stories about customers, service, neighbors, co-workers, strangers, family and friends. They told me about the appalling behavior they they’ve witnessed and their attempts to confront bad behaviors without being confrontational. They convinced me that my obsession is justified, and that more than 10,000 strangers are ready to read I’m your Server Not your Servant.

I am looking for a literary agent who, like me, is a big fan of the underdog. The perfect fit will be someone who has been a customer service worker, and is as inspired about the message of my book as I am.

Jean Marie Johnson, writer and Innkeeper, captures the spirit of my project beautifully in an article she submitted to Communico in May of 2010. Please check it out when you have a moment. Also, please read through the excerpts from the sample chapters, and contact me if you think we can work together to make this project a success.

Updates 3/25/2011:

Miscellaneous Anecdotes

  • I was inspired to write the book after several years of witnessing the abuse of customer service industry workers by rude, ill-mannered, disrespectful customers. In addition, we are in the midst of a pandemic of bad manners, entitlement and incivility in our world, and we need to do something about it.
  • MSN (Annual Customer Service Hall of Shame) and several other organizations are quick to point out bad customer service. I’m turning the tables and shining the spotlight on customers.
  •  Why are 19% of customers impolite, disrespectful or downright rude? They haven’t experienced any real tragedy resulting in wisdom and perspective. Their entitlement and arrogance stems from poor parenting and extended family, lack of education and bad role models. Work experiences, ego, insecurities, narcissism, ‘success’, good looks, size, and money also contribute to entitled, elitist, condescending customers and humans.
  • Great service is execution, great hospitality is a mindset, an awareness, and a culture focused on making meaningful and memorable connections with guests.
  • “Working” by Studs Terkel is a book is a work that inspires me. (Recommended by Louisa Kasdon-Boston food writer.)
  • I’m an ardent fan of the underdog. I’ve worked a lot of service jobs my whole life, and I empathize and appreciate what workers endure.
  • Blog has been live since October 2009 with more that 120k visits from 150 countries/territories around the world.
  • Inclusion is more important than tolerance. Not just mutual respect, but inclusion.

The book will include:

  • Several suggestions on how to be better/reasonable customers and how to ‘serve’ fellow human beings with empathy and compassion.
  • Questionnaire responses from over 200+ current and former servers. 
  • Ways to promote discussion and raise awareness about mutual respect, common courtesy and sharing public space and the world.
  • A true voice for service industry workers. Stories, insight, opinions, experiences from workers; the good, bad, ugly and everything in-between. What they’d like to tell customers but can’t for fear of retribution.
  • Stories from hundreds of blog readers around the world who email me directly or comment on blog posts.
  • Identification of the issues, quantification (epidemic), and tangible solutions and suggestions on how to deal with them.
  • Responses to “The customer is always right”(maxim), “Customer is King”, “Get a real job if you don’t like it.”
  • Interviews with Sociologists, Psychologists and Philosophers. Who are these people? Why are they they way they are? What will create a change in behavior? How should people respond to their behavior?
  • The scope of the project goes far beyond the customer-server relationship. The heart and soul of the book is about “Human-to-Human Service + Civility.”
  • Suggestions for servers and customers about how to confront without being confrontational.
  • Suggestions for recognizing, rewarding and encouraging great customers and on how to convert them from customers to ambassadors for your business.
  • Suggestions on how to support leaders who speak up and confront boorish customers and people. (The people who say what everyone else is thinking but are afraid to say it.)
    How to fire impossible, abusive customers who are detrimental to staff morale and other customers’ experiences. (Collateral damage)
  • How managers and owners should support their workers, one of their most valuable assets.

What the blog/book is not:  

  • About me. It’s not a personal memoir.
  • A bitter rant. It will be a well-balanced, two-sided discussion about service and the responsibilities on both sides of the transaction.
  • A place for bad, lazy, indifferent and incompetent servers to whine. It is not about servers as victims or about eliciting pity for service industry workers.
  • A book about tipping.
  • Singularly focused on the restaurant industry.

Why the book will be successful:

  • The Science of Empathy: Simon Baron-Cohen, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at Cambridge University. 
  • People are fed up: Yelp Talk 3/11-Sidewalk Rage
  • Boston Globe 3/26/11: Filmmaker [Ken Burns] takes up cause of national civil discourse: “We find ourselves … so preoccupied with identifying the divisions among each other that we forget to get the things done that we have to get done,” Burns said. Amen, brother. If we spent as much time working on solving problems as we do tearing each other apart, our country, and our world, would be in much better shape. The divisions are so severe and the infighting is a complete waste of time.
  • Beliefnet-The Family Values Toolkit via Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project.
  • Modern Manners + Etiquette: Bystander Behavior by Didi Lorilard.
  • Surge in frivolous restraining orders; more evidence that simple civility is lacking in our world.

Thank you very much-Patrick

Patrick@servernotservant.com