I read all 200+ comments of the Agentfail thread on BookEnds last night, and… wow. Sooo much anger out there. To be sure there are some constructive comments in there, and I always like those, but for the most part it unleashed a vast fount of angst. So much you could bottle it up and sell it to those crazy people who fight in mesh cages.
The biggest, most common complaint is about agents who don’t respond to queries or have a “we’ll respond if interested” policy.
Now, again, this doesn’t affect me personally. My policy is to respond to all queries, usually within 24 hours, and I almost always respond to partials within two weeks and fulls within a month. If you send me a personalized query that follows my blog suggestions and it’s not for me I’ll send you a personalized rejection. I always respond to my clients within 24 hours and I try to turn around comments on my client’s manuscripts within a week.
I certainly HOPE that my query and response policies make you want to work with me and that you’ll query me instead of someone who doesn’t respond. I’m building my list and I want new clients.
But if an agent has a no-response policy, chances are they aren’t actively looking to build their list. Or they have enough on their plate already. They aren’t looking to open the floodgates. And they’re not subhuman for having this policy. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: writing a manuscript does not buy you a prospective agent’s time.
If you don’t like their policy, by all means, don’t query them if you don’t want to. Just…. don’t get mad about it. It’s like being mad at oxygen.
I understand that the publishing process can be frustrating and that the people who really ranted in that post are in the minority, and that these responses were all requested. But I just wonder if we could all get along and stay constructive instead of turning agents into pinatas.
What I dislike about #queryfail is that the writers featured never signed up for public humiliation.
If writers are too sensitive (umm, artists, anyone?)or need thicker skins, that’s OUR business, and usually private business, at that.
I myself #queryfailboycotted.
Especially when, to my absolute horror, (and the universe’s twisted sense of humor/timing),I realized I’d queried FIVE participating agents.
The last thing I needed was to be (possibly) made fun of after all the hard work I’d put into both my novel AND my query, not to mention fielding rejections.
Life is tough enough already.
Even though I had requests for partials and just submitted a full (with great excitement)due to that same query letter, and even though, technically, what’s to be worried about when I received requests in result, I’m still horrified to think my query might be used to “educate” writers (not its intended purpose) without my permission or at my laughable expense.
(The writers reading the blogs and/or twitter aren’t the ones who need the “education”; obviously, the writers NOT reading or researching are the ones who do.)
I’m starting to think writers need to standardize a disclaimer for the bottom of their query letters:
~ I do not give permission either implied or expressed, now or in the future, for my query letter to be part of #queryfail in any way, shape or form. ~
I *am* too sensitive for it, but I don’t see sensitivity as a flaw. It’s a gift — I’m a writer. I’m sensitive — and I’ll fight to stay that way in a tough, tough business.
Love the blog!
However, by the way, I do get very mad at oxygen when it doesn’t do what it says it is going to do.
I know oxygen has a lot of demands on its time and resources.
However, it has made me an offer that I can’t refuse and things get a little tough if it’s not around when I really, really need it. 🙂
Oh my. Just had a look. And, I started to feel a little odd that some of the issues honestly don’t bother me. Not to say that the concerns of the writers who it does bother are not valid for them, and they haven’t had some pretty bad experiences. And not to say there aren’t (cliche alert) some bad apples in the basket-
I guess one of the reasons the no response never bothered me is because I thought of it as the agents way of being able to move through the queries quickly. Sure, it only takes a few seconds, but multiply that by hundreds/thousand depending on how the agent and their assistant (if they have one yet) manage the requests, that is the best way to handle them. So no, if Nathan or other agents I feel could be a fit for my writing have to change current policies, it wouldn’t be an automatic no query–
And I do think, after reading so many an agent does know what they are looking for. I really do. That’s why you can get a quick turn around. And if I am a no hear on a full after a long period of time, I figure it’s a no, I just move on (agent and I wouldn’t have been a match anyway)– It’s not that I don’t care about my books making it to libraries and stores-I do.
I stopped reading Agent Fail, once I realized I WAS starting to worry on the query process, meeting agents at conferences (looking forward to Washington, Nathan!). That’s passed this morning, btw.
Anyhow, I think I had a point to this reply–not sure where it got to, so will get back to writing-! Best wishes to us all for bring the best of what we have to our future readers! ack, mushy, I know, lol, but, ya know…I actually mean it.
Sarah Jensen says
I believe we get what we send out. If you focus on the positive things, more positive things will happen. If you focus on others mistakes…well, that’s just sad.
Look for the good in others, and let the rest go. And yeah, that includes Agents!
I actually posted on my own blog about this one. In summary my opinion is “hip hip hooray for agents.” Though its much more exciting on my blog.
BTW, If a writer does not receive any interest from a literary agent they could follow in the footsteps of this successful author. https://tiny.cc/bqUOb Lisa Genova used lulu.com to publish her book with print on demand technology. This is relatively inexpensive because the books are only printed after an order is placed. Her book, “Still Alice” sold pretty well and was picked up by Simon and Schuster. It is now in its 12th week on the N.Y. Times best seller list.
I need a literary Agent! My poetry is quietly confidant. I have submitted to Random House before and they made me an offer based on 15 poems–i now have over 100 poems in my manuscript. I know they want me, but i need representation…can you help? email@example.com
Very late to the party here, alas. In response to the comments here and elsewhere about “pre-shopping” manuscripts, it definitely does happen. A couple of years ago, an agent who’s a member of AAR offered me representation. I declined for a variety of reasons, one of which was that she was nuts and way too flaky for me to consider as a business partner.
I found out that she’d been “pre-shopping” my manuscript to several of the top houses in its genre, and I had no choice but to pull it from consideration at other agencies and take it out of circulation altogether.
I’ll probably shop it again this year. All the serial numbers have been filed off, so nobody will recognize it.