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Friday, August 27, 2010

What Agents Go Through

As I step into the query coliseum again I do so with a heavy appreciation of what agents go through. Impressing an agent is so hard that sometimes we writers forget their job is hard too. Being patient while waiting for someone to judge the culmination of your hard work can be difficult. Agents sometimes receive thousands of query letters a month. If you work a forty hour work week that's 50 queries a day. If that sounds easy don't forget agents also have workshops, conferences, retreats, and book fairs to attend. Not to mention they have other clients who's work they have to sell which means meetings with editors, as well as phone calls and e-mails to those clients and editors.

I actually heard a few complaints from writers who were rejected that the agents responded too fast. If you don’t understand how an agent can decide so quickly then you need to read The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman. That book explains how an agent can tell so quickly and from such a small sample of writing whether or not you and your novel are for them.

There is something discouraging I've noticed this time around. More and more agents are taking on the policy of only responding if they are interested. Sadly, it's not the agents I'm disappointed in over this. Many of them say this is due to the negative responses they've received from a 'no' answer to a query. Some have been threatened and harassed. Writers this should go without saying, no means no. Threatening and harassing will get you black listed in this industry. Don't do it. When you see an agent with the 'no answer policy unless they're interested' don't get mad. It's our fault. Maybe not you, certainly not me, but there are writers out there who ruined it for us.

Remember patience and respect will keep you in the fight.

14 comments:

  1. I've noticed that policy as well. I think the e-mail submissions have made it REALLY easy for more writers to query -- instead of having the hassle of going to the post office.

    At least with this type of policy when you do hear something from one of these agents -- it's a good thing!

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  2. I love agents who accept e-mail submissions! Not just because its easier, though that contributes! I love them because then I know they're going to have more of an online presence and be easier to communicate with, which is really important to me.

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  3. Hey Heather. I know, it's really said that so many are not replying any more if they're interested. Thanks for the advice on reading the book; I need to check it out at the library now!
    Email queries are really great, though. The only thing bad about them --and with many regular mailed replies--is that the agent usually won't give details about why they are rejecitng you:(

    Happy writing,
    LReneeS

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  4. I absolutely hate the no response means no interest policy that so many agents have adopted. But I understand and respect why they have had to do it. And I know many of them hate it to. But they are just inundated. It's amazing all the things that they manage. I think of great deal of those who have taken the time to send me a polite and personal rejection.

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  5. LRenee, it is a shame that agents don't have time to give details about the reason they're rejecting us. I've received my fair share of standard, non-personal rejections. But we can just take that to mean they weren't right for us or our project for some reason or another. Enjoy the book, it's fantastic!

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  6. Me too Elizabeth. Its a shame it came to that with many agents. You're righ though, it really makes us appreciate those that take the extra time.

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  7. No rejections anymore? I don't know if that would be a good or a bad thing...

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  8. I started querying in the nineties, and I usually got a response. I remember after the millennium the rejections were still coming, but responses dwindled. So, nasty writers definitely ruined correspondences for many. It was nice to hear "No, but this has merit" or "This isn't right for me, but keep me in mind if you have something else."

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  9. I know huh Kari? It has its up sides and down sides. If an agent says they don't respond unless their interested on their website or blog then I just query them and move on as if they've said no.

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  10. You're right, things have changed a lot Medeia. It's a shame. Those little tidbits of advice and help are like jewels to us writers.

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  11. "Remember patience and respect will keep you in the fight." True story! Great advice for writers who want to keep it classy.

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  12. The sad thing is I'm sure there are only a handful of writers out there who would harass an agent who rejected them, but of course that handful has to go and spoil it for the rest of the writers out there. I think most writers have their heads screwed on right.

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  13. I'm glad you liked it Samantha. There are so many writers out there trying to break through that we have to remember, it only takes one reason for the agent to say no.

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  14. That's so true Alissa. It's unfortunate that it only takes a handful to ruin something.

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