A recent email conversation with a writer led her to say "just tell me if I'm being too crazy here."
I had to disappoint her with the news that not only was she NOT crazy, she was going to have to try MUCH harder to get in to the Crazy Corral.
If you wanted to be fitted for Crazypants, here are the guidelines:
1. Believe that my lack of IMMEDIATE reply means your writing is so bad I'm just trying to craft the most delicate of let-downs.
Why you're nuts: I don't write delicate let-downs (ever) and I'm busy making other writers crazy. I haven't gotten to you yet. Chill.
2. Believe that if this query doesn't secure representation, your writing is clearly bilgewater of the most foul degree.
Why you're nuts: I turn down good and publishable writing every day for reasons that would not surprise you. So does every agent. Rejection doesn't mean anything, ANYTHING, other than not for me.
3. Believe that if you don't sell this book at auction, it's not going to get attention from anyone ever and you might as well throw in the towel.
Why you're nuts: You're woefully unaware that many books sold at auction NEVER EARN OUT, and lots of quiet little books earn for years. Sure we all like big splashy headlines. I like money even more.
4. Believe the guidelines are only for idiots who follow the rules.
Why you are nuts: I throw out most of the stuff that doesn't follow the guidelines. I ask for the things I need. If you don't send it, I can't read it. And I'm not going to engage with you by emailing and asking for it.
5. Believe agents have hidden agendas about submissions.
Why you are nuts: Agents are mercenary beasts with VERY SIMPLE AGENDAS: find work we can sell.
6. Believe the only way to secure representation is a raft of connections in the publishing world.
Why you are nuts: 75% of my list came in COLD through the query inbox. Most authors arrived the same way for their debut books. You're looking for a reason you got a pass. Quit it. Query harder.
7. Believe no one ever in the history of the world has had this idea before.
Why you are nuts: You haven't read enough. This is a statement of epic ignorance UNLESS you are James Joyce.
8. Believe agents will steal your great idea, give it to one of their existing clients and leave you out of the ensuing zillion dollar deal.
Why you are nuts: Even if I were a filthy scoundrel who would do such a thing my clients are not. Plus, most of them like writing their own stuff. If they like writing something they didn't dream up, I get them work-for-hire jobs. Your work is raw and untested. Work for hire contracts can be for a NYT bestselling series. Figure out which is more attractive.
9. Believe it's easy.
Why you are nuts: It's not easy. The guys who make it look easy (Lee Child for starters) don't show you the workout room with stinky togs, liniment, and blood soaked towels. A LOT of effort goes in to making it look easy.
Like Simone Biles.
10. Believe there is a secret to getting published but no one will tell you what it is.
Why you are nuts: There is no secret. There is hard work, luck, and staying sane. That's it.