My Way or the Highway


As most of you know, I’m on Twitter, and lately I have found it to be an invaluable resource.  Not just for getting my name out there, but also for learning things I never knew.  

Yes, you heard me right.  I actually learned something from Twitter.  It isn’t just me wasting time as I hit writer’s block.  You see, I follow several agents and not just because they’re considering my work or I want them to.  Some of them don’t even rep. the type of work I write, or they have already rejected me. But I follow them because they give me an insider view of what’s going on in the world of agenting and publishing. 

Which leads me to my posting today.  A lot of them have been complaining lately of the queries they’ve been receiving, and it seemed so silly that they would be.  I mean most people research the agents they’re querying, right?  Most read the submission directions and only query one agent per query letter, right? They don’t get angry for responding too quickly or with a rejection, right?

Uh, no.  No, they actually don’t.

And my question is why.  Why would someone query twenty agents at once on the same letter?  Why would someone submit an adult manuscript to an agent that states they only take children’s literature?  Or send screenplays to an agent that only takes manuscripts?

Now I know none of you do this, so I’m probably preaching to the choir, but I thought I’d take time today to go over the importance of following the rules. 

First and foremost, research the agents you want to query.  Make sure they rep the genre that you write.  And then follow their guidelines.  Most agents’ websites clearly state what each particular agent is looking for and how they want you to submit.  Some want just a query.   Some want the query and the first five pages, or the query, a synopsis, and the first chapter, or some combination of the above.  That’s why it’s important to follow their rules and not what you think they want. 

If you can’t find their guidelines, and you’ve checked agent query, query tracker, and Publisher’s Marketplace and you still can’t find anything.  Send a query and maybe the first five pages. 

On that note, let’s move onto attachments.  Most agents don’t want them, so if they want the synopsis and the first 5 pages, copy and paste them into the letter.  When in doubt, copy and paste.  Don’t send an attachment.  There’s no quicker way to an autoreject than submitting an attachment when they don’t want them.

The same goes for when they ask for a partial or full. Follow their guidelines.  Make sure you know how they want it.  If they want it electronic, make sure to check what format. After you do your snoopy dance, please, please, please give your manuscript one more glance.  This is especially true if they want it snail mail.  Sometimes your printer can screw up and you’d never know.  So, make sure it’s perfect before you send it.  And follow their guidelines. I can’t say this enough. When in doubt, ask. 

Now onto the hard part: rejection.  It’s going to happen.  Even if you’ve done the research and think that the agent is a perfect match for your work, they may feel differently.  The biggest thing is don’t email back to argue.  Even if you’re MSS is perfectly written, and is the next Twilight and you’re sure of it, and you think they’re idiots for rejecting you, that’s their prerogative.  Their choice. 

They may not have connected with the mss like they wanted, or they already have a client that is writing something similar or—well there’s a million different reasons you might get the big R.  Just take whatever information they give you and move on.  Use it if you agree or other’s have said the same thing, or disregard it for later.

Please don’t be like the guy who bashes agents in his blog for reasons that escape me.  Or the guy everyone refers to as “The query stalker” who sends the same query over and over to the same agents several times a week.  This isn’t getting them anywhere and is in fact, making it harder 1) for the agents to their jobs and 2) for the rest of us that want to make it in this biz to get there. 

On a closing note, if by any chance you are one of these people, please, please, please stop.  You aren’t getting anywhere.  You’ve become a joke.  They don’t care.  Yes, they talk about you, yes you’re getting people to your blog, but if I can be so blunt, you’re morons.  Spend the time you’re taking pissing these people off and improve your writing.  Take classes, send your mss to critiquing sites(see my Links page for some excellent sites), do something other than what you’re doing.  It isn’t working.

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