letters from the query wars (delayed)

# of queries read last week: 163
# of partials/manuscripts requested: 0
genre of partials/manuscripts requested: n/a

Dear Authors:

Someone wrote me back recently in response to my email declining to read their material. They were, shall we say, put out that I listed myself as “actively looking” on a website and then did not agree to read their manuscript. Am I to infer from their response that one cannot be both particular in what one chooses to request and also actively looking? Is a person that goes into a bookstore and only buys one book not actively looking for something to read? This writer was not the first to make this implication, though they did so in a manner that I deemed to be on the impolite and unprofessional side, which is why it caught my attention. But not in a good way, of course. (I don’t encourage going this route. Or using language that might make a biker’s mother blush.)

And let me not mention that the person in question was submitting something that my website and the DMLA website and agentquery.com all list as something that I do not represent. Nor shall we dwell on the fact that the website they mention that lists me is not one that I have heard of or that wrote and confirmed any details whatsoever. (Why are there so many random sites like this? And why do so many people believe everything they read on the internet? And why don’t more people fact check? But, I digress.)

My suspicion is that the person in question was not familiar with the daunting statistics of authors writing versus available agents and publishers to supply them with the opportunity to have their book represented and sold to the general public. (As an aside, someone recently posted on the subject of “landing an agent” and how they found the phrase problematic — it was a writer not an agent who said it, but I got where they were going. One cannot acquire an agent in much the same manner as one obtains a gallon of milk. Nor, they argued, is an agent a possession — a position with which I heartily agree, of course.)

I find it ironic that I’m writing this during a week when I requested no submissions. Regardless, I do not feel that I am less actively looking for new books that will excite me with plots or characters or settings that I can get caught up with, or ideas that will make editors fall all over themselves in making an offer. Suffice to say that I would hardly be reading hundreds of queries a week and thousands of queries a year unless I was actively looking.

47 responses to “letters from the query wars (delayed)

  1. They probably say “landing an agent” because that’s what comes after “hooking” them. And, of course, we’re all fishing for nibbles. 😉

  2. I’m sorry you have to put up with hassle like that. I imagine it could spoil your day if you let it.
    Sad to say, some people just ain’t that bright.

  3. Wait a minute… I just made that connection. They “land” a fish… Obviously I’m not much of a fisherman. I hope to be a better agent angler. One with a clean mouth.

  4. The “landing of an agent” is actually kind of an apt metaphor, but I find they never call you back if you bring up the “filleting of an agent.”

  5. you are such a heartless person. you are a reputable literary agent who works for a reputable literary agency. you share your insights on a webpage that doesn’t cost a dime. you post submission guidelines that are easy to find. you answer questions from aspiring writers. you come across as being encouraging, helpful, and professional. cosidering this…
    why should i bother to research you or the agency? why should i worry about the material you wish to see? why should i follow the guidelines? why should i bother to ask a question before i submit? why should i polish my writing or seek advice from others before volunteering you to represent me?
    you are such a nice person that i am sure you will forgive me.

  6. Don’t worry about it. He/She is just taking out their anger and frustration.
    You are doing a great job.

  7. As an aspiring author I just find it frustrating that I have hundreds of people on LJ who think my writing is amazing but then I can’t seem to land an agent. I suppose I just have to find the right agent, but it is disheartening nonetheless. Although even with all that said, I wouldn’t go bashing the agents that reject me, I just use that rejection to better my material.

  8. While at first blush I found myself agreeing that the term landing an agent seemed rather brusque and crude, the more I thought about it the more the metaphor seemed accurate.
    When you go fishing there are many elements that determine your success.
    You need to cast your bait where the type of fish you’re seeking live. You need to fish at the proper depth. You need to use the proper bait. You need to prepare the bait correctly. You need to fish when the fish are biting. If you do all that, your odds are better, yet even so, there’s no guarantee the fish will bite. In many cases, you’ll never know why. You may be forced to cast the bait many, many times. You may have to replace the bait. You may chose to replace the bait, simply assuming the fish “don’t like that one.”
    Even having done all that, you may still not catch anything. Possibly you might get a bite, but not end up catching the fish. You may “fight” with the fish for some time, only to lose it at the boat or shore. Some days the dragon fish wins and gets away.
    For the diehard fisherman/fisherwoman the joy is in the adventure, not necessarily the meal that follows. If you had another great day outdoors, consider the whole thing worthwhile. Maybe you got to share the day with some wonderful characters in a wonderful place.
    Yup, a whole lot of that sounds like the submission process to me, and in the end, the best part may be that even though I didn’t “land an agent” I can still relive the memories of the one that got away, re-reading the great story I wrote and remembering when….
    “Landing an agent” does sound a bit crude, but in a larger sense, it’s really bit like that. Isn’t it?
    C

  9. It’s embarrassing to remember how horribly naive a person can be when just starting out in the querying process. The writer sounds shocked to be rejected! He or she may grow up. Don’t take it personally.

  10. “I find it ironic that I’m writing this during a week when I requested no submissions.”
    If you look back over the past year, you’ll find that most of your weeks are like this. I appreciate you blogging about your business because I’ll probably be seeking an agent soon and I am grateful for the learning curve, but you really don’t seem to want new material based on how very few partials or fulls you request. Most weeks, it is none. I’m truly happy that you don’t need new material, and truly sad because apparently publishing seems to be dead.
    You aren’t the only one.
    In other words, you are not actively looking for new novels, based on the statistics. If you are, then apparently only 1/10 of 1% of people who send you queries have writing skills. Either way, we’re all screwed, aren’t we?
    In other words, a potential client hurt your feelings. I have a difficult time sympathizing with you based on your statistics in your “query wars”. (Are they really wars? Is it that bad?).
    Much luck to you. In a week, I’ll stop following your journal, you’ve taught me all that you can. I truly wish you great success, but I hope that you learn a bit more about the frustrations that writers encounter when attempting to start a business relationship with an agent. This post is obvious proof that you have yet to understand what writers go through.

    • gringo, I think you missed a little bit here.
      Agents are a business. They make money when they can “buy” a product, i.e. identify a writer with potential, and then “sell” that author to a publisher. The time they spend trying to promote a writer is lost if they cannot make a sale. Therefore a wise agent vets the material they chose to represent carefully, for not only is their time lost if they can’t sell it, their potential sales are impacted if publishers feel their submissions are unlikely to be good.
      This week she said she read 163 queries. If you toss out the ones that were “wrong genre” and such, toss out the ones that were clearly “no good” and toss out the re-queries, there were probably not more than 30 or so that warranted any action. If none of those captured her interest adequately, it’s not necessarily a measure of the authors. If you’ve read this blog regularly, you know some of the types of things she gets each week. As for your numbers…yup. Although I haven’t added it up, I suspect it’s not much more than .01%. Is that bad? Nope. It’s reality.
      There are a lot of people out there who believe they can write. Some can, but a lot more can’t. Some can write, and even write well, but they can’t tell a story or create compelling characters. Some can do all of that, but can’t create a new, interesting, or unique plot. Maybe she’s a bit pickier than some other agents, but she seems, at least to me, to have a pretty good track record.
      I think you’ve mistaken “actively looking” for “actively finding.” Looking means reading a lot of queries, and she seems to do that. Finding means a good writer put together a good query and a good story. Is it her fault that didn’t happen? Should she lower, or change, her standards or her tastes to accommodate that? That’s up to her.
      The fact that she’s “actively looking” doesn’t mean your writing or my writing suddenly got better. It means, at least to me, that she’ll read my query and, if it meets her standards, she’ll ask for more. If not, well….
      I think she knows well what writers go through, but that’s not a basis to run a business.
      C

      • actually i think the percentages are good. if i felt like i had a 50/50 shot she would’ve gotten the rough draft of a novel i wrote when i was 8…i feel compelled to work harder when i see an 0 for 163er on the board…

        • With this particular agent, I wouldn’t submit. She is genre oriented, and I write literary fiction. I really do appreciate her sharing her side of the industry, I hope that this point is well understood. But soonerdawg, I have to ask, at what point does one stop seeking an agent? One in 200? One in 1,000?
          I’d rather take the path of Saroyan. I’d rather keep sending until someone actually opens the envelope and bothers to read something. Then, I might have a chance.

      • wood_artist:
        Statistics don’t lie. Please keep in mind, I’m certainly not attacking her (heck, I don’t even know her), but simply based on her “query wars” numbers, there isn’t much seeking going on. It’s all starting to read the same. It doesn’t discourage me as a writer, but it’s depressing.
        If we pretend that your analysis is correct, then, as I say, we’re screwed. Even if we’re really good, we’ll never be read. I have a friend, a published author, who claimed that agents were a waste of time. I mocked him, but I might have made a mistake. Fifteen percent of a rejection equals nothing.
        I get published in magazines, directly, it’s easier. But I am a novelist, I am certain it’s my calling. The problem is this: Do I query hundreds of agents that request hardly anything or do I go it alone? What odds are better? Based on this weblog and others like it, I’m leaning towards taking my published friend’s advice. At least I’ll have a snowball’s chance in hell, regardless of my writing skills.

        • i know someone who’s a published author. He had no agent. He wrote one book. He paid to have his book published. Outside of family, I don’t think anyone else read it.
          I like to think that my idea’s good. My writing sucks. I bought a book on grammer the other day after reading a couple pages of something I had written. The idea’s good, and that motivates me. My writing sucks, but I will tell my story because it needs to be heard. When my story is on paper I will remember my pride and learn to write.
          I will do my research. I came to this website due to a book I read that made me think I might have a prayer. You could say that it motivated me. This blog motivates me. Yet there are other sites than this. I will take a shot, but it will be calculated. Writing a book is only the beginning. You don’t go to war and say to yourself, “well, I have my weapon”. That is only the first step to making it through the battle.
          You should believe in your idea. Once you believe in your idea….

        • You can look at the whole issue either way.
          If you find an agent who likes your work and can help you get past the first draft, then the odds of getting published probably went up. I say probably simply because agents can sometimes get in the door that is closed to an unknown author. The “success percentage” varies from agent to agent, obviously, and the better ones have better publishing percentages. However, as we’ve observed, the better ones are also more picky about what they take on.
          On the other hand, you can go it alone, and probably collect more rejection notices overall. It’s pretty much the ultimate Catch-22.
          Above all, remember that many best selling authors went through piles of rejections before finding the magic. Tom Clancy, to name just one, collected hundreds of rejections until he managed to convince the Naval Institute Press, a publisher that had never published fiction before, to take a chance on Red October. Nobody else saw any future in the guy, and look where he is now. Editors/publishers frequently miss the next blockbuster, just as television execs select shows that flop while missing some good ones that later get picked up by somebody else. Agents are no different, with the exception that some focus on specific genres and hence won’t look at something else, regardless of quality.
          I don’t write in Jennifer’s genres, so she’ll never represent me. That doesn’t mean I don’t value reading her comments here. When I do look for an agent, it would be somebody with similar standards. Will I seek an agent? Probably. Why? Simply because they can help me, and I believe that help is worth the percentage. Will that agent sell my book? I can only hope, but that’s what almost all authors do; we write, and hope.
          It’s ugly. It’s not fun. It’s depressing (as you observed). It’s frustrating. It’s all of those things, but real writers continue on, trying to find the magic brick that will open the portal. When I’m at that point, I won’t hesitate to approach the wall, but having Hagrid to help me might make that easier. He knows which brick to push.

          • I don’t think many agents worth their salt would waste much time helping an unpublished writer through a first draft. I can’t stand reading my own first draft, let alone sharing it.
            Tom Clancy never received a rejection letter. The U.S. Naval Institue opened up to fiction and Clancy drove his book to them. In his own words: “A few weeks later, the publisher expressed interest and so I’ve never had a rejection slip.” Something tells me it wasn’t a rough draft he drove to Annapolis to show them.

            • I agree, anything submitted should be polished. Most agents won’t touch anything that isn’t tight. No worries – if it’s accepted, the publisher’s editors will find plenty of things to change.

        • If ‘statistics don’t lie’ [which I disagree with, but that’s another issue] then you can see from the ongoing numbers how many queries she’s looking at, nearly each and every working week, and work out from that that yes, she *is* actively looking.
          If she weren’t, she’d turn off the query faucet. Agents do that. One extremely popular blogging agent did so back in March. That agent is clearly not actively looking for clients.
          Have a look at Slushkiller, section 3 (it’s from the publishing house’s perspective but the principles still apply):
          http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html
          Anyone willing to read hundreds of queries a week in an attempt to find the occasional number fourteens deserves applause.
          I admit I’m not thrilled with the label ‘query wars’, but I can see why it all gets a bit adversarial on the agent’s side.
          – Tracey S. Rosenberg (http://tsrosenberg.wordpress.com)

          • I’m sure there are plenty of people who can’t write as well as they believe they do, or as well as their friends believe they do. Your Slushkiller link isn’t really what I’m talking about.
            This agent and many others that blog are admitting that the market is oversaturated with writers. In this market, most queries are tossed after a couple of sentences. I’m not targeting her, even if writers were scarce she couldn’t adequately represent what I write based on what she sells, it isn’t a match.
            Mine is a simple observation, based on what I’ve read here.

        • Fact is, more publishers than not will not even look at a manuscript without it being brought over by an agent. That’s why we query for agents, besides wanting someone that’s better at negotiating the business contract than most of us will be.

          • I know. I follow a lot of editor blogs as well. It’s simply getting so crowded on the writing end, I would rather pay someone to negotiate the contract than try to “hook” an agent. This isn’t the only agent blog that reads this way.
            The fact is that most agents toss most queries after the first two sentences.

            • Do you read over their shoulders to see how far they get before they decide to reject?
              As a slush reader, I usually know whether I want to request or reject by the first two sentences, but I do keep reading. Sometimes they surprise me.
              Please reconsider making statements like that. It’s not a fact. You can’t know.

              • I can only go by what agents report. If what the majority of agents are reporting is untrue, then please blame them. If you are an agent, or work for an agent, then I certainly understand being defensive about my statement. However, most of the dozens of agent blogs I follow have stated that, unlike yourself, they do not keep reading.
                And I don’t blame the agent. In other words, if they know they aren’t going to request, then further reading would be a waste of time.

        • I think the saying that might work is Sturgeon’s Law: Ninety percent of everything is crap. Some weeks, an agent just doesn’t find that 10% hidden in the slushpile. (And sometimes, the 10% that isn’t crap is submitted to the wrong agent.)
          It’s not graded on a curve, either; an agent isn’t going to lower his or her standards just because this week’s offerings were all below A+ quality.
          I’ve been rejected by — probably because I still had a first chapter that I eliminated later. After eliminating it, I went to another agent who got hooked by the new first five pages, wasn’t too keen on the next chapter, and who gave me some very good advice (personal! advice!) which I’m trying to meet so I can re-submit the manuscript to her.
          There are a lot of agents in the sea. One agent? The statistics are appalling. But assume you’ve got good stuff and know how to search Google for more? I submitted stuff to about four, maybe five, before getting the good advice. Even if I can’t revise the manuscript sufficiently for this one, I’ll have a better shot at some other agent. (And may well have revised the thing significantly enough to have a shot at going back and re-querying. It’ll have been at least a year by that time, probably.)
          I’m not ruling out submitting to publishers straight, and if the thing is just too long for the dead-trees market, I’m not ruling out certain forms of self-publishing — but from where I sit? I talked to a handful of agents, revised based on agently blogs, and the moment I revised once, I got not just a nibble, but advice. So for me? That’s a 20-25% “good things” rate. If I can beat this thing into a marketable length, the gold ring is not that far away for me.

          • It is almost impossible to successfully submit to a publisher, most queries go straight into the trash. But it can be done. It has been done.
            I’ve been following over two dozen agent blogs for a while now, trying to learn from them. Unfortunately, they all read similar to this one. It wouldn’t bother me at all to pay 15% to someone who sells what I write, it leaves me more time to write. The problem is that there are far too many writers (or potential writers).
            All of the agents seem very likable, but I do have an issue with things like “query wars” and “query fail” at a time where agents have things going so swell for them. All of these writers to choose from! If 10% of writing is good, I would think that 5% of writing deserves to be examined further. That isn’t happening – not just here, but everywhere.
            Also, do what works for you, but I don’t query agents from the internet. I use Writer’s Market and other publications. I also prefer to send via snail mail. It’s expensive and old-fashioned, but I like it.
            Good luck, I hope you find your agent. But I would rather be saying that I hope your agent finds you.

            • For my genre, there are a few publishers which keep slushpiles open, even now. It does depend on the genre, though. (I’m gathering that we’re not in the same one. Mind, if you were writing in my genre, as competition, I would totally be encouraging you to stop looking for agents! O;D )
              I’ve gotten better results from the email queries than the physmail ones I’ve done, so I’ll stick with those for now. At the least, the results tend to come faster. Honestly, there are enough agents out there that I’m able, thus far, to be choosy about who I submit to — and with my quirk that I don’t like to do simultaneous submissions, that should take me pretty far.
              I figure that I’ll locate one eventually. They’re not rare spawns that I need to camp any one spot, and they don’t roam around to become harder to find. *grin*

            • I doubt things are going swell for most literary agents — an awful lot of them need another job to support themselves, so how swell can they be?
              Selling fiction is hard now because the public’s attention span has steadily fallen, they have less free time than ever, and more forms of entertainment competing with books for that free time. That’s why it’s gotten so much harder all the way around: demand for the product has FALLEN.
              If the agent in question truly doesn’t want new material — desperately — all they have to do is stop taking submissions. And at the risk of repeating myself, the agents simply have NO MOTIVE WHATSOEVER to mislead the public in a way that will cause thousands of writers to send them mail and e-mail they don’t want to look at. It’s not like they charge by the query.
              Sure, the numbers are discouraging, but Jennifer doesn’t only print those numbers, she also trumpets with pride when her clients succeed. Why shouldn’t she? Like all businesses, it has its share of the good, the bad, and the silly.
              Sorry about the caps — I’m paranoid about using itals in the comments now 🙂

          • I’ve been rejected by only 5 or 6 agents so far, but per querytracker.net I’ve got 20 or so to go, and that’s it. There just don’t seem to be many fantasy agents. There is also widespread agreement that re-querying the same project a second time is a terribly long shot, so the odds are very strong that in the next couple months I’m out of agents. Then the prospects of this novel are permanently dead; time to start from scratch with another one.
            Is there actually a larger pool of agents than I’m aware of, beyond querytracker and the AAR listings, who are competent, and not charlatans? That would be great news, if it’s true please share the link (or whatever) you use to find them.
            But I’m skeptical, because of what the supply and demand for fiction seems to be. I’ll probably have to start writing in a new genre. It hurts like a mad hornet, but it could very well improve my writing; that doesn’t happen without some pain.

  11. A lovely delusion
    I am amazed and impressed that you are so open with things. There are many agents who sit behind a blank cyberwall and don’t even reply to queries. If you don’t hear anything in 8 weeks, consider it a rejection. At least you publish your stats.
    But we writers are all under the same lovely delusion that more than one person will ever read what we write. With the amount of people writing and submitting novels these days (with the advent of PCs and the Internet), there must be a huge percentage of writers who go to their graves with that quiet sad disappointment that they never got their book past that one person.
    I hope I won’t be among that list. Writing is such a lovely delusion. But querying is just hard work. Thanks, Ms Jackson, for making it just that little bit easier.

    • Yes, a lot of authors do die of natural causes after a lifetime of failure at being published; I know two.
      But in the classical age of Mozart, there were composers who never found wealthy patrons. In the Jazz Age, there were musicians who never got their big break. In all ages, there are people who die in childhood, people killed in war in the flower of youth, people who die never having found love, or people who die just when they seem at the end of a long period of suffering.
      In the big scheme of things, there are plenty worse things than dying unpublished. Those two people I knew both made it past 60 (one past 70). They both had jobs they enjoyed, happy marriages, and lots of friends. They enjoyed their writing and didn’t waste their lives.

  12. The only thing I’m upset about is how those of us who do read submission guidelines and work hard to present ourselves in a professional manner get buried under the people like the writer mentioned in this post. I’ve been following six agent blogs for three months now and if I had a dollar for every story similar to this one that’s been posted, well…
    I’m angry that these people waste an agent’s time and energy, leaving less for the rest of us.

  13. Jennifer,
    I’m sorry that you have to deal with idiots. But remember that there are those of us who know how to research agents, who don’t believe everything (if anything) we read on the Internet, and who know what you’re looking for already. And any agent we’re interested in for that matter.
    There are those of us who realize that our work may not be ready and decided to write another project that may be more agent-ready before we contact you.;-)
    😀
    ~Tyhitia
    http://obfuscationofreality.blogspot.com/

  14. There’s A Reason Milk and Bad Eggs Don’t Occupy The Same Space
    I love the metaphor regarding how one can’t obtain an agent the way one does milk. It’s like if someone scanning an employee director for a doctor, choosing one based soley whether they’re accepting new clients, and not taking into consideration as to whether they need a podiatrist or OBGYN–and then getting angry at the messenger to boot for their lack of observation. All doctors went to med school, didn’t they? Why should it matter what their specialty is? Besides, if it’s on the internet, it must be true . . . “they” wouldn’t let things be put on the internet that aren’t true.

  15. As disheartening as (I imagine, as I haven’t started actively looking yet myself) the agent-finding process can be, I still don’t see why that should cause the sort of skewed logic that leads aspiring authors to believe an agent cannot be actively looking yet reject the majority of queries that lands on the desk, especially when that agent already has a large and impressive client list. It’s a numbers game, and as much as it sucks for us sometimes, we need to remember that. (Or learn it in the first place if, as you suggest, this writer wasn’t familiar with that fact.) A number of us might be able to write beautiful, profound, or entertaining things, but the statistics show that very few of us will ever be traditionally published.

  16. One time you read my query but refused to publish my book. Are you really an agent?
    Ha.

  17. I think it’s unfair how much pressure writers place on agents. “They’re holding my hopes and dreams in my hand!” “They refused to publish my child!” “It’s up to the agent to make sure I’m the success I know I will be!”
    Of course getting a good agent to be interested in your work is a good thing–but it’s up to the writers themselves to do the research and take the time to make sure their submissions are up to par, not to mention being sent to the right place. And it’s always important to verify sources. If a website or catalogue doesn’t look reliable or the information listed there isn’t as in depth as it should be, chances are good that a lot of that information is probably inaccurate, if not dead wrong.
    Personally, I think we should all be thankful if we hear from an agent at all, even if that’s just a rejection letter, because an increasing number of agents seem to be letting silence serve as a replacement for a “no thank you” letter these days. For me, it’s enough to know that my work is being read. Getting rejected is common for writers. With how many of us there are, each with our own rejection trophy and story to tell, surely THOSE statistics prove that there should rightfully be thousands of rejections listed on any respectable agent’s resume.
    And let’s face it. Would getting published or (dare I say it?) “hitting it big” really mean that much if it happened to everyone? I’d like to answer my own question with a resounding, “No.”

  18. I have to admit I’m on the fence here. On one hand, there’s no call for someone to play the entitled or rude card when talking to an agent. This is a business and everyone needs to be professional. As a theatre major, I totally understand the “audition phase” that actively-seeking agents go through. Jennifer was my very first agent query and, much to my disappointment, she said “no thanks.” But she was polite in her response and I understand that she doesn’t feel my work fits with her stuff.
    On the other hand, at the end of the day, the writer doesn’t work for the agent. The agent works for the writer. The only reason we writers have to query agents is because there are very few agents and thousands of writers in this world. In other words, folks, it’s a buyer’s market. Not a seller’s. So, we can rant and rave about the unfairness of the world all we want. In the end, though, we still have to suck it up, be polite, and work our butts off to land our agent. And, yes, I mean that phrase. I love the fishing metaphor. It fits.
    Also remember, just because an agent agrees to rep you doesn’t mean you should accept the agent. Just as a writer has to go through an audition, so too should the agent once they offer to represent you. I don’t remember if I saw it on this blog or PubRants, but one of these blogs posted a link of questions to ask your agent before you sign on the dotted line. Once you have your offer (think positively now), make sure the agent fits you as well as your work fits the agent. But be polite and professional.
    Civility goes quite a way in establishing fantastic working relationships.

  19. I can understand the ‘hooking an agent’, but the phrase I really don’t like is ‘stable of writers.’
    I am not, nor will I ever be, a horse.

  20. the other day i picked up a novel by dan brown called “Deception Point”. Since i enjoyed The Davinci Code and hadn’t read anything from him since, i decided to pick it up. i’m glad i did, as i think this book — at least in the first hundred pages — would make a good point for what not to do.
    1)one of the bad guys is played by a crooked senator, who is despised by his own daughter, even the aide he slept with on the job. there is no redeeming quality here. just another crooked politician.
    2) keeping things from the reader. there is some huge discovery. people are guarding it with oders to kill. a character is flown from point a to point b, then to point c, then to d. all in short 3 and 4 page chapters. get on with it. or add something worth reading about that might help us understand the importance of keeping this discovery secret, which in turn might raise the stakes and result in the tension of the inevitable conflict. right now it’s hard to keep going.
    3) flashbacks. we keep jumping back in time to find out why a character feels a certain way. she is flying above water to the big secret — we suddenly go back in time to find out why she doesn’t like water. at this point i stopped reading. 88 pages and i couldn’t make myself care.
    i read all types of fiction, unless it bores me. Deception Point bored me. if i was an agent i wouldn’t have gotten past the 10th page and the cardboard cutouts.

  21. I’m an unpublished fantasy writer and a huge fan of DMLA. Top choice of agencies I’d have represent me. I’m a bigger fan of Mr. Maass than Ms. Jackson (not really on a first name basis) but get starry-eyed at the thought of either.
    Now, why? First of all, I don’t want to sympathize with these juggernauts and say that they have it terrible, it IS, after all, their job to read through the slush pile. But I will say that I want these kinds of agents because Ms. Jackson reads 163 queries and decides even the best aren’t worth it. Which, to me, says, “When I find the one that is you’d better believe I’ll bleed for it.” Now my hope is that one MS will be mine.
    This is business. This is a recession. Forget feelings and politeness. I am a product (a darn good one, of course), and they are buyers looking to purchase, only if I’m “bleed-forable.”

  22. I think that an agent has every right to be picky. I am a picky person by nature. When I go to the library it takes me sometimes over an hour to find a book that I want to read. Why? Because I only want to read the one that really, really, really stands out to me. Now, at some point, someone else thought all of those other books were good because they did get published, but that doesn’t mean that they were they one I wanted to take home. I think this concept is true for agents as well. I have just started my query process. So far I have only gotten back nice rejection letters. Sad as it is, I knew it was coming. I would rather have just one agent like my work and be excited about it than have many wanting to do a mediocre job with it. I do write in the genre that Ms. Jackson is in and I have submitted to hear. I would like, since I have followed the guild lines she has given for her to give my query some time. But even if she says no to me, even when I have gone with the guild lines, that’s alright. It’s nothing personal.

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