Two phone calls today, neither from people who were clueless, but they absolutely did not get the help they thought they should get.
First was a very nice woman I met at a conference. As at all conferences, I handed out my card and welcomed queries. She queried and received a reply; sadly it was a form rejection.
This morning she called and said her name. She needed "just some advice on why her novel was rejected." I had no idea who she was. Her shocked tone when she replied "but you just rejected this on Sunday" led me to believe she had no idea that she was one of a 100 people who heard from me yesterday.
And of course, even if I was going to give any kind of feedback it would NEVER be on the phone. And certainly not in the middle of the day when I was doing other things.
I know she thought I was rude. I know she hung up feeling bad.
Honestly though, I'm astounded people think this is Undergraduate Lit 101 and I'm some sort of prof with office hours for writers to drop in and get help.
This is a for-profit business and I spend my time doing what I think is going to make me boatloads of money. Shiploads would be better. Helping you figure out why your book doesn't work is not going to make me any money. It makes you feel better. Those are NOT the same things.
The second caller gave me his name and said he'd like to speak to an agent about his book. I told him that all initial contact with agents and the agency is in writing.
Well, who should he contact?
Look at the website. All the info is there.
And I'm not going to give you anyone's name to contact because I don't know what my colleagues are looking for. In a smaller agency everyone might know that stuff. I don't. I know what *I* am looking for and that's it.
You'd think people would figure out they are not calling the main number for FPLM when I pick up the phone and say my name. But they don't.
The second caller was clearly used to dealing with more retail kinds of business; he was befuddled that I wasn't eager to help him. He was a writer, I made money from writers...why was I being such a Cruella DeVil?
Because if you can't follow really simple directions, OR it doesn't occur to you to LOOK for directions, you're not ready to query. It's really as simple as that.
Yet, it's not a great feeling to know that both those people went away unhappy, and blame me for that.
I guess I'll dump some extra money in the bell ringers kettle today to adjust my karmic balance. And write a blog post to remind everyone that "do not call an agency at the initial query stage" is pretty much a hard and fast rule. And if you think you're the exception, you're EXACTLY the person who needs to read this again and say "She's talking about ME" out loud. Ten times.