Friday, April 03, 2009

How much time would you save by only responding if you were interested?

Janet, I'm curious. If you only had to respond to queries that weren't rejections, the requests for more pages and such, how much time would it free up for you to do other things, like catching up on partials or whatever?

Twenty minutes a day. Max.

Let me elaborate. There are a couple levels of the incoming queries.

The first and easiest are books that I know aren't for me. It can be for any of the automatic rejections I have listed; it can be that I don't really want to read the book (no matter how well written) which means another agent is a much better choice for this querier; or, perhaps it just doesn't engage my interest (not bad writing but not energetic).

Those are very fast decisions. I do those twice a day, once in the morning, once at night.
Even when I type in the querier's name (I was listening to #agentfail!) it doesn't take more than ten minutes.

Then there are the queries to which I give more longer attention. That takes maybe another two hours over the course of a week. This includes reading pages, thinking about the book, doing some research maybe.

So, sum total, maybe three hours a week? I guess that's a lot of time if you think I work a 40 hour week. I don't. Not even close. (no hyena yelps from the peanut gallery suggesting it's LESS than 40!!)

The other reason I don't ever want to do "no response means no interest" is that I know most people are hoping to hear yes. I have to disappoint a lot of people every week. I don't need to be rude to them on top of it. I don't have to imply my time is more valuable than their hopes. It's not.

I'm glad to receive every single query. I don't care if you misspell my name, call me someone else, or insinuate that my Herpet-American asssssistant is too slithery for her own good: if you write well, and it's a book I want to read, I will read it. I may not offer to represent it, but I will read it.

Fuck all that other crapola about do this /do that. Write well. The end.


Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...


Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

And I'm NOT sucking up.

Amethyst Greye Alexander said...

I do so love the succinct answers!


T. Anne said...

Write well. The end and Amen.
Enjoyed your salty sermon. I'm glad you respond no matter the out come. Though it may pierce our hearts and shatter our ego's, thank you!

Eric said...

This is truly one of the best blogs I like to read. I really appreciate your honesty and integrity, which comes through like a spotlight. The world of agents could use alot more of what you exude, thats for sure. Not sucking up either, just stating an honest opinion.

Wendy said...

I enjoy coming over here and reading your blog. I like your style and think you have a great down-to-earth, common-sense attitude.

It's interesting to hear about your day.

Once when I was in college I had a job that required I merely occasionally had to send letters to people telling them they didn't get a job for which they had applied. It was NOT FUN.

I can't imagine having to do that on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Hard to argue with 'write well.' And other than pay attention and be polite, not much else we writers can do. play devil's advocate here (because, well it's fun sometimes), three hours a week is going to give you roughly 150 hours or very roughly (I know, 50 hour week is being pretty kind) three weeks of your work year saying no. That's a fair amount of time in the scheme of things I think. If you could add on three weeks to your year to get things done, would you?

Of course, this is seen at the expense of writers. Are we hoping to hear a yes? Sure. It's our dream. I send off queries with some hope attached to it every time. I also send them off with the expectation of a 'no.' That's the reality of publishing. 99 point whatever percent of the time, it's going to be no. And that's ok. This is an insanely subjective industry with as much timing and luck added into the mix as talent.

I appreciate the fact that most agents take the time to say, "thanks but no thanks." I don't need to hear it though. I'm assuming that's the answer unless I hear otherwise. Writers should be ok with that. Knowing the little I do about how things function in this industry, I think you agents deserve that extra three weeks of time for other things, and we writers should respect an agent's decision to make that choice. It's reasonable. I don't find it unprofessional, and if I, as a struggling writer can deal with it, I'm sure others can too.

Anonymous said...

you are the sweetest thing :)

I wish you represented fantasy :(

Cock It And Pull it said...

Write well and then you'll get an agent.


I teach a creative writing class to "at-risk" boys. Every now and then I come across a real writer.

The word "hopeful" comes to mind. Idealistic. Juvenile delinquents or just plain old ordinary troublemakers. Not exactly publishing material. They have a lot of attitude and they don't wear Manolo Blahniks so publishing would have no idea what to do with them or their work. They are idiots.

I tell all of them to forget about publishing. The game is rigged. "There is no room for any of you in it."

A few will set out to prove me wrong.

But in time they usually get it.

It is usually a revelation. "It's not about what you write. It's about who you are, and what class you come from."

I also explain that reading books is highly overrated. That is a sentiment they soon come to understand completely.

A rigged game, they comprehend.

The end. Tim Barrus, Amsterdam