June 13th, 2008


measuring success in non-tangibles

From an email one of my clients sent to me today:

"Money or property you can qualify and quantify but to me it is not a watermark for progress in life, or for happiness, nor is a growing bank account an escape...It is true that in many ways, especially at the time, you offered me a life-line when you signed me up, whether this will result in success for us seems almost secondary now."

This author and I have been working together for quite some time and, as yet, we have not succeeded in making a sale. But I continue to have faith in their talent and they continue to have faith in mine. (Indeed, this author has garnered the most complimentary set of rejections I have ever seen!) I didn't know their personal situation when I offered representation, so there was no way for me to know what effect I was having then. I cannot quite describe the feeling I got upon reading the statement above, but I wanted to note this one down to come back to on the days when I am feeling overwhelmed. So, when that avalanche of paper is threatening to consume me, and it feels like a thankless task, I can look at this and know that it doesn't take a book sale, or a quantity of royalties, to show that this endeavor in which I'm engaged is worthwhile.

letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 122
# of partials requested: 3 (but two of those were from the same query)
genres of partials requested: paranormal romance (1), cosy mystery (1), YA (1)

Dear Authors:

This week I got the same query for the third time in less than a month. It seems likely to me that my reply is getting caught in the author's spam filter. The first query mid-May or so, was in the general format of such things with a pitch and pages. I politely declined. The second email, just the next week (notice my response time is posted as 2-3 weeks from receipt) contained the identical material, with the exception of the
introductory line to get my attention. Once again, despite finding the new intro a tad insensitive and perhaps pushy, I politely declined. This week I received the email again with a comment that I hadn't replied for 4 weeks. I copied and pasted my previous two replies into a response and sent that out with a sincere wish that it got where it was going. I haven't had a reply or a bounce, so I shall probably never know. However, I suspect that the author in question may have now decided that I am one of the rude agents that doesn't deign to reply.

This makes me sad.

I'm sure there are agents who are thoughtless and dismissive in their dealings with authors. I'd like to think they are a small percentage just as those authors who do not research or have a care for an agent's time are the few rotten apples poisoning the otherwise talented barrel. I try to keep that in mind and come to each query with a fresh perspective. But responses across the internet seem to indicate that I may be in the minority there. In this case, it's distressing that through not fault of my own, it appears that another slur on my reputation will be my inescapable fate. While I realize that these instances are but a teensy, tiny percentage of my weekly query traffic, it is still somewhat disheartening that this seems to occur on a regular basis.

My thanks and appreciation to everyone that employs a polite and professional approach in this very competitive business and to those who take responses in the spirit they are intended. You give me heart and hope to keep looking for new writers to represent.