Thursday, March 30, 2006


Before I rant, I want to assure all my wonderful readers that yesterday’s post about doctors and guns was a JOKE!! (I got the feeling that some of you were wondering.)

As some of the comments pointed out, it also gave an indication about how people can use statistics to prove just about any darn thing they want. Which gives credence to the old saying, “Figures don’t lie, but liars figure.”

Now: on to my rant.

As you regulars know, I’m still sending out queries to literary agencies for representation so one lucky agent can make a TON of money selling my novel to a publisher. I’ve ranted before about agents who claim they are “actively seeking new clients,” but then on their web sites state that they may take months to get back to an author regarding a query due to the overwhelming volume of queries they receive every week.

I’ve been sending “thank you” emails to those agents who DO respond promptly, since I’m a believer in positive reinforcement to encourage desired behavior. Today’s rant is about those agents whose supposedly current, up-to-date web site information (as opposed to some other third-party “listing” of agents with profiles) indicates they are “actively seeking new clients.” But then their response (rejection) letter tells me they cannot consider my project because their current client list is just too crowded.

Oh, you poor dears! I’m SO sorry you have more work than you can handle! But yanno, if you’d put on your current, up-to-date web site a note that your current client list is full, I wouldn’t have wasted my time, paper, and postage sending you a query you didn’t want to read.

I know (since I DO read your web site AND your blog, if you have one) exactly what you do and don’t want included in a query. Most of you are very specific about that, and many of you want different things.

Sample pages, or no sample pages. One chapter, two chapters, three chapters, 10 pages, 30 pages, 50 pages... I’ve seen all of those requested. Synopsis? Sure, some of you! You want a one page (max), two pages, or no specified length? Some of you prefer Courier New for a font, others prefer Times New Roman. Most of you want one-inch margins all around.

My point is, I’d be stupid NOT to try to send you what you say you want. So I am NOT just sending out 150 form letters with a synopsis and ten pages addressed to “Dear Agent.” I’m personalizing each query according to your desires.

So it burns a bit when I do all this and get a personalized response that your client list is full.

Since that’s not the usual form response, I assume it’s honest; and I ought to give you points for an honest, personal note, right?

Well, in one case this week, I did give points. The query had been via snail mail with the obligatory SASE. After I received her rejection I emailed the agent, thanked her for the prompt reply, but let her know (as gently as I could) that she would have saved BOTH of us some grief if she had put a note on her web site (maybe updating it each week or two) saying either:

1) “Sorry, I can’t accept any queries now due to a full workload. Check back in a few weeks. I’ll let you know when I can accept queries again.” Or as some succinct listings put, “Not currently accepting unsolicited queries.” Or,

2) “Now accepting queries for my listed areas of interest. Especially looking for __(insert genre)_____.”

A few agents do that. I’m sure it simplifies their lives by stemming the flood of queries when they are NOT wanted, and focusing authors (who read the sites — not all do) on what the agent wants.

Oh, the agent to whom I sent this email actually replied! Her message was terse:

Good point.
Regards, xxxx”

You think she'll do it? Betcha she won't.

Okay. Rant over. I feel better now.

(Oh, and if any of you wants to forward this to Miss Snark for her snarky, sharp-witted and sharp tongued response, feel free.)


Shesawriter said...

OMG! LOL! John, you're absolutely insane. LOL!

Duke_of_Earle said...



Why? Because I made a common-sense suggestion to an agent? They're NOT god and goddesses, common opinion to the contrary notwithstanding. And hey, she had already rejected me.

Or because I invited readers to forward the post to Miss Snark? Yeah, that may have been temporary insanity. That'll be my plea, anyway.


Nankin said...

Amen, Bubba!

Hale McKay said...

A joke? Say it ain't so, John. All those comments wasted on a joke?
...Now I am joking, of course.
And Amen, btw.
...Hmm .. the word verification is interesting "licksten." That should have been the one for the previous post.