Whew! That was a tsunami of comments over at Bookends yesterday. It took a while to read through the comments but I finally finished tonight.
Several people remarked about the depth of anger revealed by commenters. I wasn't surprised at all. Anyone who's been to a conference lately and spent any informal time in the bar with writers has heard this kind of thing. It's not news.
What it is though is instructive. For example: the number one thing that pains your asterisks is the "no response means no interest" policy that's becoming common. Many who commented about how much they loathed that policy also added that they would not query an agency who said that. Others said if that's the policy, at least establish a time limit and put an auto-responder up so the writer knew the query had been received.
I loath no-response. I think it's rude and unprofessional and a short sighted business strategy. I've said all that before, and at length.
What was REALLY interesting though was the commenter who said "if your policy is no response means no, and I see an email from you, I think it's a yes. When it's not, I'm disappointed".
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh boy. A LOT of agents salve their consciences by saying that even though the agency policy is a no response means no, they still try to respond to every query.
It's clear to me we can't have it both ways.
Uniform guidelines was another complaint. Frankly this one never occurred to me. I don't keep track of where my guidelines are posted, and I only update Pub Mkt, my website and AgentQuery. Since I'll read just about anything though, I'm not worried about people sending me the wrong stuff.
The other big complaint is lack of communication in all its permutations: lack of replies to status updates on queries; lack of responses to clients; slow responses to everything.
That one hit home. It's my worst fault. I've been trying to work on it for awhile, and it doesn't seem to be getting much better. Maybe one of the things I can do in the next blog post is talk about WHY that kind of thing happens. Despite all evidence to the contrary it's not cause I'm twittering or blogging all day. I wish it was cause then I could just stop doing that and solve the problem.
I had to laugh when a couple people mentioned an agent looked or sounded disorganized and that was a negative. Look at the picture of the pink octopus on the blog post below this. See that MESS of a desk? Yup that's mine! I actually shuddered a bit when I realized how messy it looks in the picture. I knew someone would notice and sure enough I heard about it on twitter!
I blame the octopus for that though. When you've got eight arms you need to have a lot of things nearby to keep them occupied!