curious filtering of agents

On another agent blog someone in comments said:

“I’ve decided to drop anyone who blogs from my list of agents to query.”

Can anyone enlighten me as to why this might be used as a characteristic to apply in determining a list of agents to query? I’m just curious.

88 responses to “curious filtering of agents

  1. Because of the nerve-wracking horror of waiting to see if *yours* was one of the two partials requested this week?

  2. maybe they’ve decided that getting published just isn’t hard enough, so want to limit themselves even more?

  3. Because you’re of the (deeply flawed) opinion that bloggers are pixel-stained-technopeasant-wretches?

    • I was gonna say, I thought Andrew Burt already had representation?

      • Why would Andrew Burt need representation? He self publishes.
        Anyways, my only thought is that perhaps the querier (querizer? querieee? who knows.) thinks that time spent blogging is time not spent representing. That’s a silly thought (as a huge part of the advantage of being represented is having access to that agent’s professional network) but I could see it coming up.

  4. *blinks*
    That just sounds…odd. I would think an agent’s blog would help give more insight to what that agent might like. And not sending to blogging agents does reduce the number of agents you have to choose from.
    Why would anyone want to reduce the pool of possibilities when representation can be so hard to find to begin with?
    Makes no sense to me.

  5. Because if you’re blogging, you’re not reading *their* manuscript?

  6. Apparently there are those who believe (saying this is the first Battlestar Galactica voice over voice) that agent who blog are not selling things.
    But that saves you having idiots submitting and taking up your time, right?

    • I suppose they might also think that agents who sleep and bathe are not selling things? Heh.
      I’m sure my clients would be shocked (shocked, I say!) to know that I am blogging and therefore not selling their books. *glances at shelves full of authors’ copies*

  7. I’ve run into at least one published writer who complained of waiting quite a long time for a query response from an agent who blogged most every day about the amount of slush they needed to read, etc. The feeling was that someone who blogs instead of working is someone who won’t be a good agent. Because they’ll be blogging instead of working.
    I’m guessing that the statement you’re referring to is a variation of that.

    • Which strikes me as nonsense, because an agent who blogs is clearly more tapped-in to the modern world of communication than one who, say, doesn’t even have a website. There’s such a technology backlash going on, it amazes me.

    • Could be. But working 24/7 is actually bad for you, or so they say. Reading submission after submission after submission with no breaks gives you eye-strain and makes your brain tired. I actually think it’s a disservice to the writers. You should give every submission your best shot and your sharpest eye, if at all possible, right?
      Plus, keeping in touch with the writer world via blogging is a good thing, I think. And it’s better than spending an hour playing solitaire.

      • If I hadn’t started reading your blog, I don’t know if I’d be your client now. I gained a greater sense of you–maybe you did of me as well. I mean, we’d spoken before. We knew one another. But blogging is just another aspect.
        Then I found your food blog, which is really neat and often makes me hungry.

        • I’m glad you were reading the blog, then. I was such a big fan of the Jani books and I was thrilled when you got in touch about the new projects.
          And, I’m so pleased you enjoy the food blog. It’s been too much neglected the last month or so (too much travel, not enough time in the kitchen).

      • I should add that at the time, I wasn’t able to travel very much, so your blog functioned as a table in the con hotel bar.
        I think it’s a good thing.

      • And it seems that many folks do believe that agents are agents 24/7. That we have no hobbies, no other interests, never do laundry or buy groceries or take an actual weekend day off like the rest of the world.
        It’s a kind of self-absorption that I find unnerving, frankly.
        We’re regular people with full, rich lives.
        I wonder if these same people would expect an accountant to be an accountant 24/7…

        • What?!
          Get back to your agenting you unidimensional slush-pile reading ‘bot!
          Get the to a manuscript!
          *whew* Thank gods I’m not an industry pro. I get to screw off all day.
          “Hey look, Jeff’s posted an entry where he accomplished nothing…” *the world pauses* “I wonder if Bear has posted another Cat v Monkey yet…”

        • I think that people who do a lot of their work/communication via the internet often have to deal with the expectation that they’re always “on” duty.
          I work from home as a database programmer, and I have clients trying to get ahold of me at obscene hours, and all through the weekend. I literally have people trying to catch me at midnight. And if they see me online (“see” as in catch a blog post, see me on a messenger service, etc) then that’s proof that I could be working. For them.
          People can be a wee bit self-absorbed, I’ve noticed. 😉

        • And it seems that many folks do believe that agents are agents 24/7. That we have no hobbies, no other interests, never do laundry or buy groceries or take an actual weekend day off like the rest of the world.
          Forgive me, but the attitude you speak of reminds me of people who tell me that it’s immoral for me to have cats and look after them “when there are people starving in the world.”
          Um, and they assume that if I did not have cats, whatever money I spend on cat food and kitty litter will go directly to philanthropy? Also, incidentally, do these people have hobbies and electricity and perhaps more than one pair of underpants? (Two, I guess: wash and wear.)
          The world is a complex place, and writers who fail to understand that have bigger problems than some agent keeping a blog.

    • That’s about as sensical as the “writers who blog aren’t writing” meme.
      The fact of the matter is, there’s only so much fiction I can generate in a day, and then I go do other things. Like blogging. Or hanging out on internet forums.
      But I guess we–and agents, and editors–are supposed to work 24/7 on one thing and one thing only?
      As an example, I have read 85 pages of page proof, to get to page 185, so far this morning, and now I am going to go start the rice for my lunch and read a few more pages while it cooks. Then I will cook my lunch, eat it, and push on until I reach page 250.
      Then I’m calling it a day and going climbing.
      Somehow, I fail to see this as laziness.

    • Huh. I didn’t think of that. I guess that’s similar to Robin Hobb’s essay about how she couldn’t write because she kept blogging. But most blog entries are quick, so I don’t see it as any kind of major hindrance to getting work done.
      Unless they type really slow.

  8. I can’t imagine why anybody would say that. If anything, I’m more likely to query agents whose blogs I read, because in whatever small way, I know more about that agent than I do about an agent who doesn’t blog.

    • Further, um, supported. (Can’t count on fingers right now.)

    • I have actually knocked agents off my list due to their blogs. This was because I could tell they “just weren’t right for me”–i.e. after enough lurking, I could see their tastes didn’t mesh well with what I write.
      I wonder if the agents in question would be relieved or horrified to hear that?

      • I’d go with relieved if your assessment was based on actual blog posts over a period of time and you got to know the agent’s taste. Besides connecting to the writing community at large, one of the things blogs *should* help with is making submissions more and more accurate. Alas, not everyone takes the time to really read through. It can become quite obvious in some queries that “reading the blog” is just a euphemism designed to make the person sound like they did their homework when instead they were obviously watching tv.

  9. Weird. I like openness and communication, but that’s just me.

  10. I think it’s a crazy choice, but I do know people who have subbed to agents, only to see a few weeks later a blog entry about the agent being sick of (for example!) “penguins who dream of being assembly-line workers”–when that’s exactly what they subbed. Kind of stings. But they would have been rejected whether or not the blog existed!

    • My first thought was something similar – “it’s bad enough to be rejected, but I don’t want to see them mocking my query.”
      My suspicion is that the people whose queries get mocked are the ones who (1) have no idea how to construct an appropriate query, and that if you read the blog, you’re probably not one of them. Still, private rejection hurts enough – I could imagine someone not wanting to face public embarrassment on top of it.

      • I know an editor who occasionally mocks (anonymized) awful graphic novel submissions in her blog, so if you’re the kind of writer who sends query letters that, say, start off with “You’re a FOOL if you reject my SURE TO BE award-winning ms!!!” … then you might be wary about getting mocked again, even though you have *no* idea why you were mocked in the first place. :p
        Not saying that’s true of this particular person, of course.

  11. Well, I’m brand new to this querying thing, so what do I know?
    But I would expect that agents who blog might just get more queries in general. Looking for an agent feels like online dating to me. You’re trying to find someone you think you could get along with, and figure out what image of yourself you want to present to entice them.
    An agent who blogs gives you a chance to “get to know” them in a sense. It’s hard enough to send your little “please like me” messages out; you feel a little better knowing something about the person you’re sending it to.
    So, I would think, odds-wise, an author might have a harder time getting the attention of an agent who blogs, since so many other rivals are also vying for their affections.
    Maybe the petulant commenter just doesn’t like the odds?

    • There are only a very small percentage of agents blogging, and only a very few or them doing it on a regular basis. Based on all the other agents in my peer group that I know well enough to estimate…. blogging has no effect on the quantity of queries received.
      The odds are long either way as that person may discover.

      • In my own case, the number of queries I get resulted from someone else blogging, John Scalzi. I doubt anyone would have known who I was without his very nice write-up about me joining FinePrint.
        I still receive a large number of queries who mention the Scalzi plug. I doubt anyone has ever queried me simply from reading my missives on cats, hairballs and slush-piles. 🙂

        • Oooh! So I could be the first?
          Because I’ve been working all morning on my query letter to you, after stumbling across your blog last week and poring over it. I love your missives on cats and slush piles. And I love that you have links to cat macros there. 🙂
          And no worries… I have no dogs at the moment and there are no butter issues on my end.

  12. If I were an agent, I’d consider blogging (about agent/publishing/writing issues) part of my job.
    Maybe this person doesn’t like the possibility of being singled out for a query-gone-wrong during query roundups? Even though agents are pro enough not to name names or titles, perhaps this person is afraid of reading into the numbers and finding their query among the “bad” ones?
    This happened to me once. I sent requested material to an agent, agent blogged about something someone did wrong, and I realized I’d done the thing. Still, I’d much rather know I’d goofed and be able to fix it next time around.
    Personally, I’m much more inclined to query an agent who blogs regularly, or at least gives frequent interviews. I need to see if my work is relevant, how to make it better, and if I feel connected to them in any way.
    And I benefit a lot from the Query Wars posts. Don’t think of stopping them!

  13. Those who don’t know about the amount of time agents/editors/writers spend online these days might not think of said agents/editors/writers as “serious,” particularly if the people in question have a low opinion of the web. I’d particularly expect this to be true of writers getting business and market advice from dated sources.

  14. Perhaps the person is concerned that an agent who blogs… may find the author’s blog or livejournal, filled with all the angsty ramblings and cursings of the process of writing those razzin’-frazzin’ query letters. Add in a few comments of “Shot down by X!” (with “the illiterate luddite!” possibly thrown in for good measure), and an author might be quite paranoid of an agent who doesn’t seem to be properly kept in a cave that is well stocked with manuscripts and tea.
    That’s my guess, anyway, aside from the chance of anonomized public humiliation, should the agent complain about Yet Another Vampire Tomato Story.

  15. I go with the “They think agents who blog aren’t spending enough time being agents” vote. With a side order of overly thin skin in some cases.
    If I have a sudden fit of writing in a genre that requires an agent, I’ll be only too happy to submit to agents who blog. For one thing I’ll have a better idea of whether I’m wasting their time and mine before I seal the envelope or press send. No, I don’t particularly want to read a few weeks later about the agent being sick of submissions about penguins who dream of being assembly line workers, but I’ve seen enough reviews of my small press published stuff to grow some hide.

  16. Add my voice to the chorus of confusion here; a regularly or even semi-regularly updated blog puts an agent higher in my query order, not lower!
    Also, please add my thanks to those for your Agent Manners posts and the query wars ones as well. They are most helpful, and most appreciated. I’ve been learning a lot from reading them, as well as similar posts on other agents’ blogs. 🙂

  17. Actually, agents who blog are at the top of my query list because I have a sense of who they are and their wonderful personalities.
    By the way, Jennifer. Did I tell you that you rawk? ;O)

  18. I pulled an agent from my list because I didn’t like what that agent was posting on the agent’s blog. It might be something along those lines.
    Otherwise, it is a mystery.

    • Not querying a specific agent because their blog has led you to believe they are a bad match for you is an entirely different thing, I think. This person seems to be saying they won’t query *any* agent who blogs. Period. That was the part that mystified me because it isn’t based on the agents skills, sales record, interests, etc.

  19. Because they know that their query letter is so bad that the agent will post it on their blog as mockworthy?
    Seriously, though, it’s a puzzlement. But I’ve also heard writers say such things as “I’d never submit to an agent who already had several published clients because that means they wouldn’t have time to work with me.” In this case, being a successful agent was apparently a bad thing….

  20. Dunno.
    For me, blogging would determine an electronically savvy agent, and I would also prefer to know agents as people, rather than monoliths who send form letters.
    So, I’m off to read the rest of this thread and ascertain the whys of this meself.

  21. Agents are perceived as having no lives outside of their jobs — along with teachers and professors, it seems. I’m sure my students would be mildly startled that I occasionally blog instead of reading their papers (and we won’t even mention that whole fiction nonsense.)

    • Then they would be astounded to know that you are occasionally IMing me while you are supposed to be reading papers and I’m supposed to be reading queries.
      We are obviously very very bad people.

    • When I was a high school teacher, once I went through a drive through at McDonald’s. My students stared at me in fascination when they saw it was *me* at the drive thru window.
      “Yes,” I said to them, “Mrs. Stump eats.”

  22. My first thought was that they’re terrified of appearing in the agent’s blog as What Not To Do.
    Self preservation! 🙂

  23. They may possibly worry that an agents who blogs will try and force them to develop a “web presence” and they are terrified of the prospect?
    The only agent I have decided to not submit to because of her blog, was one who stated that she wasn’t looking for the kind of book I write (right genre, wrong mood). This brings up the possibility that the author who puzzled you has heard from so many agent blogs he has read that they don’t want whatever it is that he is writing, that he assumes that no agents who blog like it, and he has decided that this is because they are blogging, not because he has written something unsalable.
    But frankly, I’d bet on the, “if they are wasting their time blogging…” theory rather than either than mine.
    I just like coming up with possibilities. >:)

    • … an agents who blogs…
      Should be:
      …agents who blog…
      Sometimes I wonder if the easily edited nature of electronic text actually leads to me making more mistakes. I swear that over three quarters of the ones I catch are because I changed my mind about what I wanted to say in the middle and went back to make “fixes”.

  24. That’s odd. I would personally like an agent that blogs. I could keep up with when they are busy and when they are not without pestering them, and I could get a sense of their personality (if we could work well together) before even querying them.
    Maybe they’re afraid of being mocked in the blog, if their query is bad?

  25. That seems remarkably silly. I’ve found myself preferring agents who blog because it’s easier to get a view for what kind of person they are and if you’d be a compatible business match. Sometimes this knocks them off my list, but not in a negative way–just things like, “Well, she says she represents commercial fiction, but judging by her blog her interests are heavily chick lit. So, this probably wouldn’t work out.” Blogs are handy!

  26. Maybe because they figure that anyone that blogs is popular, and they want an agent that doesn’t have as many people querying them. On the off chance that they’ll get better odds?
    It is either that or they don’t want to know what alcohol the agent likes or their preference in food so they can blame ignorance when they don’t present the agent with the appropriate gift for selling the book.

  27. “I’ve decided to drop anyone who blogs from my list of agents to query.”
    …and this was posted on another agent blog?
    So you’re trying to get published. You have a very small percent chance of getting published. You want to minimize your chances further by being selective. You basis for selectivity is… by excluding agents that are blogging?
    Sorry Ms. Jackson, I can’t think of any reason that this is useful characteristic in determining agents to query. Perhaps I’m just ignernt?

  28. I could see where someone might think that agents who blog get more queries than ones who don’t. Blogging agents are probably more likely to be found by aspiring writers who just do a quick web search.
    Who knows if that is correct, but personally I like it when agents blog — it helps me get a sense of who they are before I query them. Of course, I personally don’t factor in blogs one way or the other when determining who to query. Seems a little shortsighted to filter on details that are meaningless toward predicting a successful author-agent relationship (maybe this person also only submits to agents who have publicly stated they like cats).

  29. Someone on one of my author loops said the same thing (and this may have been mentioned; I haven’t read all the comments), going on to explain that any agent taking time to blog wasn’t taking time to read and shop her work.
    Alison Kent

    • I guess I can see where this could potentially be a concern. But since I have gotten one brand new project out today and just got the okay from a client on the marketing plan for a second new project, seems to me people under this impression might not have all the facts and are proceeding under a false assumption. 🙂

  30. Perhaps in fear that they themselves might be found by said agent, wibbling unreasonably about their writing insecurities (like you do in your blog,) and be thought unprofessional and not worth the time?

  31. Lordy…
    That’s like a guy saying “I’d love to date a stripper, but I could never marry one.”
    There’s a word for someone who will gleen knowledge from an agent’s blog and then turn around and denigrate that same agent for taking time away from clients to blog:
    On behalf of blognation, I apologize for the twit in question.
    There are agents whom I stopped submitting as a result of reading their blog, but it was more a matter of “my writing values are so different than the agent’s reading values that submitting to them is pointless.”
    When my agent owes me edits and I see a new blog post, I’m still thankful that she cares enough about Noobs to do her part in growing the next generation of writers.

  32. Odd
    My only guess would be that this person feels an agent who has time to blog is underworked and over-chatty.
    There are certainly a lot of blogs on the Internet that would validate that impression.
    However, blogs likes yours demonstrate the opposite. Your blog entries give the impression that you are swamped and yet still meet (what I imagine is) your self-imposed committment to keep your blog-ees up-to-date.
    I learn a lot from your blogs, and I appreciate the time you spend posting them. I’ll be ready to submit my query to an agent within a month or so, and when I do, you’ll be at the top of my list (just one of the hazzards, I guess, of being a good agent blogger? Just kidding! I’m sure my query and first five pages will be tolerable. They won’t be stapled, for sure.)
    The information you provide in your blogs is very useful. Sounds like the person who has chosen to drop all blogging-agents from their list is making a hasty and biased decision.

  33. It seems that a writer would prefer to have an agent who blogs. Reading that agents posts allows you to become familiar with them, get to know their tastes, and likes/dislikes. All things being equal i.e. both agents are equally good at their jobs, looking for submissions, etc. why would you want to send your manuscript to someone who was a relative stranger rather than to the person who has been engaging you in a dialogue on a daily basis?
    It doesn’t make sense to me.

  34. Because they think they suck and will be blog fodder.
    Who would want to read in their potential agents blog:
    “OMG, I just got a submission and I swear this person has no letter S on their keyboard”
    and think to themselves “But I have a lisp, I can’t use an S! What if I did a live reading at a con?”
    It would be just too humiliating.

  35. I’m pretty sure I know what agent’s blog you saw this comment on, because I saw it there first.
    It’s impossible to be sure when people are commenting anonymously, but the person who made this statement is potentially the same Anonymous who complained, earlier in the comment trail, that the agent could have used the time spent typing the day’s blog post to type a personalized rejection for the Anonymous–instead of just sending that form letter rejection the Anonymous actually received.
    In other words: I believe the person’s statement was born of entitlement issues and sulk. You can ignore it.

    • I mostly ignored it…. but it did make me wonder about why someone might use a very arbitrary sounding kind of characteristic to generate their list. And if it is the same person, their sour grapes are approaching vineyard size.
      Anyway, at least we generated a lot of discussion from it. That was interesting and fun.

  36. Wow…that’s just weird.
    I’m going with the “agents who blog have no time to read my precious manuscripts.”
    Personally, I’m so grateful for blogging agents. Blogs like yours, Kristen Nelson’s, Nathan Bransford’s, and the zillion others out there were one of the best means for me to learn a little about the process and not make a complete tit of myself.

  37. Agents Blogging
    I can only think of selfish reasons for this person to say this.
    As a writer, honing my skills to eventually submit my manuscript I find the agents blogs I read to have a wealth of knowledge, tips and resources.
    Not only do agents have links to resources, but links to their clients (I have a pile of books to read), and associates in the industry who give important points on queries, synopsis, their genre and how to submit your manuscript. Daily posts keep us within their world, almost as if we’re sharing a pot of tea on their couch.
    Apart from that, agents are human; with hobbies, families and other interests. My day job is in Information Technology and if I had to do that 24/7, my god, I would need a Valium salt block and a straight jacket.
    Keep blogging!
    I for one look forward to what agents have to say.

  38. I’m the opposite
    I’m fairly techie, and fairly young (37 is young, damnit!), and I wish all agents had blogs. It doesn’t matter how regularly an agent posts, but I like to see the tech-savvy, and the effort. It’s too early for me to say I’m eliminating all agents from my query list who don’t have blogs (or who don’t accept e-mail queries); but those who have blogs and solicit e-queries do float higher.

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