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letters from the query wars (delayed)

# of queries read last week: 163
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a


Dear Authors:

Someone wrote me back recently in response to my email declining to read their material. They were, shall we say, put out that I listed myself as "actively looking" on a website and then did not agree to read their manuscript. Am I to infer from their response that one cannot be both particular in what one chooses to request and also actively looking? Is a person that goes into a bookstore and only buys one book not actively looking for something to read? This writer was not the first to make this implication, though they did so in a manner that I deemed to be on the impolite and unprofessional side, which is why it caught my attention. But not in a good way, of course. (I don't encourage going this route. Or using language that might make a biker's mother blush.)

And let me not mention that the person in question was submitting something that my website and the DMLA website and agentquery.com all list as something that I do not represent. Nor shall we dwell on the fact that the website they mention that lists me is not one that I have heard of or that wrote and confirmed any details whatsoever. (Why are there so many random sites like this? And why do so many people believe everything they read on the internet? And why don't more people fact check? But, I digress.)

My suspicion is that the person in question was not familiar with the daunting statistics of authors writing versus available agents and publishers to supply them with the opportunity to have their book represented and sold to the general public. (As an aside, someone recently posted on the subject of "landing an agent" and how they found the phrase problematic -- it was a writer not an agent who said it, but I got where they were going. One cannot acquire an agent in much the same manner as one obtains a gallon of milk. Nor, they argued, is an agent a possession -- a position with which I heartily agree, of course.)

I find it ironic that I'm writing this during a week when I requested no submissions. Regardless, I do not feel that I am less actively looking for new books that will excite me with plots or characters or settings that I can get caught up with, or ideas that will make editors fall all over themselves in making an offer. Suffice to say that I would hardly be reading hundreds of queries a week and thousands of queries a year unless I was actively looking.

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