February 8th, 2008


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 114
# of partials requested: 1
# of full manuscripts requested: 2
genres of requests: YA (2), fantasy (1)

Have now read all electronic queries received prior to February 2nd, and all snailmail queries received prior to January 31st. All responses should be en route by the end of business today.

This week's random thoughts:

* Does it make sense to query an agent right before a conference you are both attending? If they like your pitch (but won't have time read any manuscript pages prior), you may have something to talk about. If your inquiry is rejected, does this make things awkward? Anyone have an opinion on this?

* Is it harder to see a query from someone who writes very well but doesn't have good ideas, or someone with a good idea, who clearly has a way to go before their writing is publishable? What do you think? Which one hurts more?

* Also, I discovered what I am giving up for Lent (even though I'm not Catholic). For a bit I had considered giving up alcohol (no snickers from the client list, please). Instead I've settled on giving up responding to people who email to argue about my rejections of their query. It will make me feel as if I'm being rude, but I have reluctantly concluded that since their responses tend to be full of negativity (and occasionally downright insulting), that it's not my burden to bear. This is different from people who get responses where I might suggest future correspondence. This is only for people who have bad manners, themselves, and therefore seem to have sacrificed the privilege of a considerate reply on my part.

* Also, considering what to do about people who keep submitting the same query consistently. This week I got a query for the 3rd time in the last 6 months. While I admire this author's persistence, the queries have all been essentially identical and I am not sure what this person thinks to accomplish with this approach. Last night I was describing the feeling to my Official Sidekick as follows:

A Writer walks into a bar... Sees an agent and ambles over:
Writer: Hey, come here often?
Agent: Yes, but you know that because you asked me the same thing two weeks ago.
Writer (waits 5 minutes): Hey, agent, what's your sign?
Agent: Do you at least have a new line to pitch?
Writer (walks away to the other side of the room, comes back): Would you like to come over to my place and see my synopsis?
Agent: (sighs) Listen, I really admire your persistence. It's truly flattering. But I'm just not that into you. Maybe you should try someone else.
*next night*
Writer: Hey, come here often?
Agent: I just don't get you. Doesn't no mean no in your world?

And, yes, it's Friday and I'm feeling a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I seriously am not sure I quite follow what happens that causes these repeat-offender queries. Is someone out there advocating that an agent will simply change their mind if you ask them often enough? Persistence is all well and good and given the odds in this biz, probably necessary. But being able to listen to feedback (and even a form rejection like mine has a bit) is also key.

Just to be clear: I'm not saying that a person shouldn't query the same agent twice.... either with a revised project (and pitch) or a new book. There are a number of clients on my current list who did just that. *waves* But that is an entirely different thing than what seems to be a repetitive, dogged, not especially useful or efficient approach that I am seeing on the rise lately. If you did this to a girl in a bar, eventually the bouncer might throw you out or she might consider a restraining order....

I have yet to come up with a response that seems firm enough and remains professional. Anyone care to take a stab at it?

And since I'm feeling flippant a bit, here's an exchange that happened this week....
*Official Sidekick lets loose a blood-curdling scream*
*agent runs into room*
Agent: What is it?
*Official Sidekick holds up query with staples and looks about to faint*