Monday, May 19, 2008

Bad Bad Agents

So, I've been reading the comments on BadBadAgents over at BookEnds (ok, it's not really called that, it's called A Time To Vent, but hey, titles are subject to change, we all know that).

It seems a few people have been reading my snarly comments about "I look forward to hearing from you soon" and they think it demonstrates lack of concern, or lack of professionalism, or lack of something.

Well, probably. I'm just a steaming heap o'lack most days of the week. Lack o'sympathy for starters.

But if we could all just ease our undies for a second and remember it's also just a post on a blog about how to polish your query letter. I don't think I've ever rejected anyone for saying "I look forward to hearing from you soon" much like I don't think I've ever shot myself in the head to see if a gun was loaded. Please.

I sympathize with some of the other comments posted, and I'm with you on the no-reply to query thing, but where we part company is when people start talking about how personalized rejections are part of my job. They are not. My job is to sell. I read queries and find the work I think I can sell. The rest of it is no. Why I say no is absolutely irrelevant to you. Maybe it's cause you know, you signed off with "I'm looking forward to hearing from you tomorrow".

14 comments:

C.J. Redwine said...

How do writers who get upset over a form rejection ever expect to survive in the publishing industry?!

Grow a thick skin, already. Sheesh.

Any time anyone reads my work, regardless of their response, I send a thank you note. If I get a personalized note with their response, I send an extra special thank you note because I'm well aware that was extra time and effort spent on someone who most likely will never make them a dime.

Unless, of course, they have the good sense to read my latest project and sign me in a heartbeat. ;)

December/Stacia said...

I was actually rather upset that thread turned into a whine about rejections, as I was hoping for something that actually focused on agent/client relationships (or more interesting, useful things for those still agent-hunting, (like please be specific in your guidelines because we don't always know what you mean by "brief"--is it two pages? A page? A paragraph?), rather than the same old handful of grumbles about what agents owe people who send them queries. Give it up, guys, there's no point in even talking about it because it's not going to happen. And it made it too easy for any agents looking at it (I don't mean you of course) to disregard or skip over the legitimate discussion points, simply because wading through those same old complaints was so wearying.

JMO. (And I'm not saying I have issues with my agent, I don't, just that it would be nice to see a discussion about agents which doesn't focus on queries and rejections for once.)

Julie Weathers said...

I think most people are frustrated by the lack of any response. Yes, I understand queries generate zero money.

By the same token, when an agent sends a response, any kind of response, I can move on with the process. Anything other than a form rejection letter is icing on the cake, as well as new wall art.

As for the query comments, like "hope to hear from you soon, Dear Madam, here's my fictional novel, Hey Nate Dawg, I'm the next George R. R. Martin and even changed my middle name to R.R." I appreciate the heads up. I can't imagine people doing some of those things, but if they didn't, agents wouldn't mention them.

I went to a Pow Wow last year where they had rules of consideration printed on the program.

Ask before you take pictures of the dancers.

Do not touch eagle feathers ever.

Don't refer to the garb as costumes, they are not dressing up for Halloween, regalia or outfit is preferred.

I like it when agents have "programs" with do and don't preferences. It might be a little thing to us, but it irritates them. Nuff said.

Julie Weathers said...

Missing punctuation in above post, but not reposting it. Think of it as a Where's Waldo exercise.

Julia Weston said...

My least favorite closing: "thank you in advance." Grrrrrr.

Honestly, considering the time constraints that seem to be an industry standard, I appreciate any personal tip from the agent-bloggers.

My two bits.

Margaret Yang said...

I've said it before. I'll say it again. I loooove form rejections. I am all about the form. I wish agents and editors could just have a one-word rejection letter. "No." Because after they've said no, nothing else matters! It really, really doesn't. You think it does, but it does not.

If the one-word form rejection were standard, every agent could respond to queries as quickly as Nathan Bransford does.

Just_Me said...

"I hope to hear from you soon." is a bit optimistic in this business. I'll close with a thank you and pray the agent doesn't spill coffee all over the query before they read it.

Mary said...

I'm assuming the "soon" is the problem, and that the "I look forward to hearing from you" is acceptable?

freddie said...

You're right. The why of "No" is irrelevant, as the comments attest. One agent thinks a book is utter crap, while another loves it. It's all subjective.

Julie Weathers said...

I've said it before. I'll say it again. I loooove form rejections. I am all about the form. I wish agents and editors could just have a one-word rejection letter. "No." Because after they've said no, nothing else matters! It really, really doesn't. You think it does, but it does not.

If the one-word form rejection were standard, every agent could respond to queries as quickly as Nathan Bransford does.~

I disagree. I had quite a few agents send personal responses back in another life. Their comments and suggestions made me feel like I wasn't living in a fantasy land. When they took time to make suggestions, I dang well took them and it did help me get an agent.

I don't expect anything, but I am grateful for everything.

DeadlyAccurate said...

I ended my original query letter to Janet with, "Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon."

Now, of course, I'm required to close every email with, "Your most humble and slavishly devoted client." I always assumed that was the reason.

Janet Reid said...

damn right you are!

Karen Duvall said...

You know, the clueless ones who complain about form rejections are just cutting their legs out from underneath them. Fine by me, because that weeds out the competition! Bwahahaha!

Seriously, I too prefer the form rejection on a query. The reason behind the "No" doesn't matter much because it's subjective. I don't take it personally because it's not personal. And the personal ones are opinions, so that doesn't matter to me either. I don't want to sign with an agent who isn't enthusiastic about my project. I figure for every rejection I receive, I've just dodged another bullet. Phew.

Irate Teacher said...

While a personalized critique of exactly what needs to be worked on would I'm sure be wonderful for those who can't see what's wrong with their own work, I don't understand writers who feel the agent is SUPPOSED to do this. What planet are you from, where they haven't invented the word BUSINESS yet? I collect my form rejections, and when I get through that one time, I'll still have them because they can keep me humble (with my ego, I'll need it!).