As you might have guessed, I’m home from Myrtle Beach. It was a good getaway and I got more revisions done.
I stopped in at Twitter to see what was going on after I checked email. Apparently, Jessica Faust at Bookends got really brave…again. She invited authors to spout off about what irks them about agents. I was prepared for the normal vitriol, but it seemed even more bitter this time.
Before I touch base on some of the comments there, I will post some things that irk me, though I don’t even know if it’s a true agent fail.
No response means no interest. Set up some kind of rejection form letter that you can just click and go. At least let me know you got it and either read it or are not interested for whatever reason. Personalized rejections are nice, but let’s get real, that isn’t even logistically possible. If I were a signed client of the agent who sent out lovely personalized rejection letters to each of the 300 queries that come in a week, it would irk me. An agent’s first responsibility is to their signed clients. Period.
Keep your guidelines current. I can’t submit correctly if I have the wrong instructions. It used to be excusable when the only thing we had to go on was the agent books that came out once a year. Now, a few minutes updating your site when guidelines change saves everyone a lot of time.
Political or religious rants on your professional blog. Yes, I’m being a hypocrite here. I sometimes post political and religious rants, but I’m a nobody, the agent is a professional. I’ve crossed three agents off my dream list for these things. I’m sure they won’t miss my queries, but it was very plain if they were that rabid about their beliefs, the subject would come up in our conversations. I, not being shy, would express my opinion and they would get their tail over the dashboard. Not a good thing in a working relationship.
The theme that seemed to keep popping up this year, was agents who twitter and blog. This kind of amazes me. It seems some writers want agents to be invisible robots chained to an assembly line, churning out contracts and personalized rejection letters.
Eavesdropping on twitter gave me a whole new perspective on publishing.
“I have 443 queries in inbox, hope to get that cut in half before I go to bed.” Around 3:00 a.m. the agent gives up after almost 100 new queries have appeared.
Agents get a lot more queries than I would have ever guessed. Anyone who follows twitter would quickly get educated about why personalized rejections just aren’t possible.
“Author I sent polite rejection letter to is demanding I explain why I rejected them. I owe it to them.”
A few hours later. “I tried to explain I don’t have time. They just cussed me out and said they hope I starve. Ah, they just sent another scathing response. Time to block them forever.”
“Something in the air. This is the fourth Nazi romance query I have read this week and it’s only Tuesday.”
Sometimes the muses play tricks on us and give us all the same idea rather than fresh, original ones. Sometimes a news story inspires several people at once. Knowing there is a preponderance of a subject matter might save months of writing. Not to say your writing won’t be vastly superior to what others have written, but it’s just verification that your writing isn’t always the reason you’re rejected. Sometimes they have something far too similar to take on another like it.
The innumerable queryfail tidbits are great. Usually, the agent will explain why something doesn’t work if you ask them.
It gives me an insight into their personality. Janet Reid linked to Rachelle Gardner and I fell in love with her. She doesn’t handle what I write, but she is absolutely perfect for my former editor, Diane Ciarloni. I can’t tell these things from the little form letter on agent lists.
I know what kind of personality I have and I know the kind of person I would work best with. I can’t tell anything about personalities from the books and sites with agent listings. Blogs and twitters not only drop some valuable publishing advice, but they help me figure out if our personalities will mesh or at least not clash violently. Some people need a tough, domineering agent who maintains no contact. I don’t. I don’t need someone to hold my hand, but they first time an agent screams at me or tries to intimidate me we are getting a divorce. Life’s too short to put up with that garbage.