I am about to (re)start my query process and when checking agencies, came across this submission guideline:
Highlight your vision for marketing your book, your writing experience, the name of the person (if any) who referred you to (redact), and whether you’re currently submitting your query to other agents.
I find these requests curious for several reasons. One, I think it's premature at the query stage to ask my opinions on how I would market my would-be book. (I wonder, is the agency trying to gauge my expectations as to what I think an agent/publisher will do for me, or do they want a five page business plan, addressing the 4P's of fiction marketing?) Secondly, regarding querying other agents, isn't that a given?
Part of me is inclined to ignore this portion of the submission guideline and submit my query letter as is, and part of me is inclined to ignore this agency altogether. While some of their agents do appeal to me, I almost feel as though this guideline is some sort of stealth Meyers-Briggs test, given to would-be clients. Plus, I honestly fear what could come next: Before we can sign you potential author, we need you to answer the following: You are locked in a room with an angry agent, an emaciated alligator, and an African ape. Which creature scares you most?
It's all I can do to drag a coherent query letter out of y'all. I'm astonished that any agency wants you to try for more.
I'm with you on this. I think this is not just getting the cart in front of the horse, it's so far ahead the horse is still in the pasture with his breakfast oats and apple, contentedly reading the Equine Morning Post-Rider.
The idea of a "vision" for marketing annoys me as well. For starters the idea of "a vision" for marketing is just sloppy. You have a plan for marketing. Visions are what you get when you're doing peyote during research, not when you're actually back at the office writing the marketing plan.
And holy hell, marketing? That's the PUBLISHER'S call. I often ask writers of non-fiction proposals how readers will know about them (platform) but I don't ever ask them how to market their books. I much prefer the sales and marketing department tell me their plans for the book, and then if there's other things to be done to fill in, well, there's the list again (no peyote required here either.)
As for writing experience, Double Holy Hell. I've been trying for years to get writers to quit telling me they've been writing since their mom swallowed a pen and paper so they could write in the womb. I don't care about your writing experience. I care about this book you want me to represent. I always thought most agents were of like mind--maybe not.
As for "the name of the person who referred you" well, that's clearly designed to make writers crazy. I can hear your little mental rodent wheels spinning on this one: do I need a referral? What if no one told me to query? Does this mean they won't even consider me?
Much as I love tormenting writers (and I do, yes indeed I do) it's really only fun to torment them when they're wilfully ignorant. That means you don't actively try to confuse them. That's just mean.
As for who else is reading, that's clearly how they're prioritizing their reading and that's just stupid. Exclusives are bad for business. Any agent or agency who asks for one at this stage clearly thinks their time is more important than yours, and that tells you a lot.
I have no idea why an agency would ask for all this material. Since I know an agent who works there, I don't believe they're actively trying to make you crazy or cranky. They just haven't fully realized how this can make writers fret.
The trouble with guidelines is the clearer we try to make them, the more y'all parse them out and become fretful.
If I could I'd just say "send me your best work. Make it so I can read it. Try not to be fancy" and leave it at that. Of course, we'd then find ourselves in a long drawn out discussion about whether times new roman is fancy.
I've said this before, I'll say it again: if the submission guidelines for an agency make you think they're hard to work with, don't query. There are a lot of us out here. You don't have to query someone you don't want to.