As I delve deeper into the writer world, I’m finding all the unspoken (and spoken) rules. What do you do when to rules clash?Example 1 – Agent/speaker says to a group of aspiring authors: “Query me! I do my best to respond to everyone, but if you don’t hear from me in x amount of weeks, give me a nudge.”Fast forward to query time: writer is furiously double-checking said agent’s submission guidelines 2 months and 23 days later. The submission guidelines say in no uncertain terms “if you don’t hear from us, DO NOT follow up [we thought your MS was crap]. Ok, clearly not verbatim, but you get it.Example 2 – Twitter pitch party. Agent liked/faved your pitch. Their own tweet says something to the effect of “if I fave your tweet, email me here”. But, being a good little writer who does research on potential agents, sees that the website guidelines say there is an entirely different process. AND, those rules apply to twitter pitches.Question is, what does the confused writer do?!
Oh how we love to torment you!
And this is such a clever way. Here are the rules, follow them. Wait no no, follow these. But we won't tell which set is them and which set is these. Can you hear me cackling with glee?
And of course we do it on purpose. Cause yanno, we pay careful close attention to what we say about queries.
My nose has grown and I've been struck by lightning. Ow Ow Ow.
The utter truth is that inconsistency happens across timelines and platforms.
And the people writing the submission guidelines for the website may very well NOT be the agent talking at the writer's conference.
And I've run into this since I moved to New Leaf. New Leaf says we don't respond unless we're interested, but I respond to almost every query. And I've been known to respond to queries that were off the mark (a lot!) when it came to thequery guidelines if I was interested in the topic.
So, what does this mean for you? It means you're going to have to be ok with guidelines that vary even though it makes you anxious.
And what should you do? Do what is most proximate. If you are in the room when an agent says nudge, you nudge. If you saw the tweet that says email me here, email her there. The closer you are to the horse's mouth (and not the other end) the more likely you are to be ok.
And remember that sometimes agents vary the guidelines for specific events. Queries from a conference get a faster reader. Queries from #PitchWars go directly to an agent not the incoming query mailbox etc.
If you're fretting about how to best follow the guidelines you're going to be ok.
The writers who AREN'T ok are the ones who don't have a clue what guidelines are, let alone the reason for them, and have no interest in following them if they do know. In other words, they're pretty sure they're the answer to all my problems if I'd only read their entire 387K word haiku fantasy dino porn novel.