August 28th, 2009


letters from the query wars

# of queries read this week: 242
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 1
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: thriller

Still 500+ queries to go...

Let's talk referrals. Right now there are a number of agents, who for various reasons, have had to close queries, and probably some more agents who are considering same. But even if they decide to do so, they usually make a statement that they are still open to referrals. So, they must consider those to be something special, right?

For agents still accepting all comers, does a referral get you a closer look? A faster look? Sometimes a combination of those two? In all likelihood, yes. But only if it's an actual referral.

What do I consider to be an actual referral? When someone known to me has read something and said point blank that the material should be sent to me and that their name may be used in connection with that submission.

If the person has read the book but not suggested specific submissions, but offered a statement to be used in queries, that's not a referral. Even though it can be used as a way to strengthen the pitch. Advance praise and blurbs are definitely notable.

If they have not read the book but suggested a submission to one or more people, IMO, that's not a referral of the work, but still a helpful thing for them to do to assist in getting it (hopefully) to the right people. On the other hand, I've heard stories where people (authors mostly) have been badgered so much by someone that they've given them a list just to get a few moments of peace. That's sad.

Don't fake a referral. In my case, my clients will mention to me if I should be expecting someone to name-drop. And if I'm not convinced, I can always ask about it. The same goes for other agents of my acquaintance. Or editors. Or even authors and writing instructors I've met at conferences.

If I've never heard of the person that gave you the referral, how much weight do you think that will have?

If the person giving the referral was paid to edit the book, what might that indicate about their bias in the situation?

If I discover that the referral is a deception, what effect do you think that will have?

Referrals are a gift. Not a right -or- a privilege. They are a vote of confidence. The person giving the referral is using their reputation on your behalf. That's why they have any meaning at all.