Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I've said it before, I'll say it again:

Don't call a literary agency.

Unless you are invited to call, or you are represented by the agency, stay off the phone.

In case the corollary isn't clear, let me say this next thing plainly:

Don't call an editor either.

And really don't call pretending to call for your (or any) agent.

The only thing this does is give me fresh material with which to torment Moonrat next week.


Liana Brooks said...

But it makes the rest of us look so good! All new authors should be encouraged to try this. It removes all my competition!

dfvsdvsd said...

Dear Ms. Reid!

I have never called a literary agency, but was wondering: what if an agent offers to represent you, and you suddenly need to let the other agents know? And are scared that your polite email will get lost in their 500+ e-query pile? Do you STILL remain telephonically mute, and resort instead to email, hoping for the best?


Curious in Miami

Janet Reid said...

Yo Tansient,
What part of "do not call unless invited to" was not clear? Please advise so I can make sure the message is understood.

BJ said...

Nice thing about e-mail: you're not interrupting anything by sending one. The agent reads it on her own time and can reply with either a thoughtful response or an automatic rejection. And it's less personal than a phone call - easier to be objective, both sending and receiving.

Case in point: Poor Moonrat. There is absolutely no way a person can give a thoughtful, considered, objective response while speaking to someone who takes everything personally. You can try, but - unless you cave - the person can ambush you while you try to remain professional. There is no way to win something like that. Professionalism vs emotion leads to a bad encounter for both sides.

Me, I'd probably go too far the other way. Phones and I don't always get along...

Liana Brooks said...


I'm pretty sure most agents who have e-mail get their mail sorted by incoming messages and incoming submissions or queries. That's usually why an query has to have a certain format coming in.

I'm guessing you would send am e-mail update about an offer of representation with some other header that would hit the agents main in box and get read promptly.

But, I'm guessing. I don't have an agent nor am I an agent. So this is conjecture.

Marjorie said...

re: calls
Some people really don't know how to proactively use the phone to their advantage. I would so much rather call Steve Gruberg and annoy him. And the upside is I get to hear my call live... on TV.

People are so not creative these days. I printed out sets of the first 10 pages of my book and I pass it out on the subway. Now, that's edgy.

A call to a literary agent or an editor is better than a valium. It is just not productive. You will spin your wheels.

Peter said...

What if, by some surreal set of circumstances (for example I believe some picture book publishing houses will accept non-agented submissions) the author has an offer for publication and would like an agent to guide them through the process. Would that still be email or would it then be ok for that author to call?

I've always been curious about that...

nightsmusic said...

*sigh* Poor Moony. (why are you waiting till next week to torment her?)

If a writer, and maybe I'm using this term loosely in the callers case, takes the time to find the agents to call, how much harder is it to take an extra minute and read the submission guidelines?

I would never cold call like that. Which is why I've never had any desire to be in sales. I'll stick to the sub guidelines and the email. The worst I can hear from that is a simple 'no'.

Anonymous said...


I couldn't believe that post about the call. Jeez. The nerve.

Anonymous said...

But isn't getting fresh material to torment Moonrat with a good thing?

Anonymous said...

I simply don't get it. I mean, take a little extra time to read the submission guidelines and do the research. Is it really that hard? :P

moonrat said...

which, let's be honest, is one of your favorite hobbies.

Jonathan E. Quist said...

Dear Ms. Reid,


There, I feel better.

But lately it seems whenever I am nearly caught up on my reading, you toss another hunk of raw steak into my cage.

Moonrat, don't you get any ideas. I can't afford to budget any more drinks at Bouchercon...