I’m going to break out the honesty today. Weak of heart, cover your eyes. This truth can hurt.
So….. no disrespect to anyone who reads the blog and has queried me recently (I’m sure your query was good), but I’ve really noticed two things over the past couple of weeks:
1) I’ve been receiving way more queries than usual
2) The quality of these queries, on average, is WAY below normal.
Obviously there have been some pleasant exceptions and, if you read this or other agent blogs, even if I passed on your project the overwhelming odds (because you’re awesome and doing your research) are that yours was one of the good ones. But on average, these queries I’ve been receiving lately are way way way worse than normal, like a train wreck on top of a volcanic explosion of cow dung (yay similes!)
What’s going on out there?
On the agent panel at the San Francisco Writer’s Conference we talked about how e-queries, because of their relative ease of use, have an unfortunate tendency to inspire some people to spend less time perfecting their query, somehow leads them to think it’s a good idea to blast the entire industry with one e-mail, and/or prompts them to write a five hundred page query letter (I guess because they don’t have to pay for the paper).
And unfortunately, it’s exactly the type of person who doesn’t take the time to read blogs or research how to write a good letter who sends these frivolous queries, so they’re beyond help. I have no way of reaching these people, via the blog or otherwise. Even if I SHOUT REALLY LOUDLY. “HEY!! PAY ATTENTION PEOPLE NOT READING AGENT BLOGS!!! SHAPE UP YOUR QUERIES!!!” … … … … … See? Nothing.
I’ve even had people ask me for help, I send them a blog link, they refuse to read it and send me a bad query anyway. I had someone today brag that she hadn’t read my blog.
So now I’m in a position where I have to spend a huge amount of time wading through really bad queries to get to the good ones. This has always been a mainstay of the query-reading process and I still like queries (mostly), but the ratio of bad to good these first few months of 2008 has been widening and widening, with no uptick in sight. I have to be out there on the Internet so I can attract the good ones, but I’m drowning in haystacks as I search for needles.
Anyway, meandering post for a Monday. I have no answers! But I’m getting exhausted spending the first several hours of my day wading through a morass of bad query letters. I’m still going to adhere to my policy of responding to everyone who queries me, but anyone who complains about agents not responding to queries should really spend several hours reading through 100+ queries every Monday morning.