Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dropping the Namedropping

I have one of those etiquette questions for you.

Let’s say I have a beta reader who is a published author. If I submit to their agent/editor in the course of trying to sell the book, is it bad form to mention that this author was a beta-reader? Does this add any weight to the submission?

Should I ask the author for permission before doing this? My fear with that is the author will think I am looking for them to pitch the book for me. All I would be trying to do is give the agent/editor the ability to access someone’s POV that has read the whole thing.

Writing this out makes it all sound so passive-aggressive. So I figure I know the answer to all of this already.
It doesn't sound passive-aggressive to me, but your reasoning doesn't make any sense to me, either-- no agent I know would take on a manuscript because someone else has read and liked it. ...Unless that other person has a HUGE fan base and is willing to blurb your book.

When you're choosing who you think you can work with, and whose work you think you can sell, nobody's POV means anything but your own.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've never been in this situation, but I've heard the exact opposite of this from agents and editors at conferences. That if you are in a critique group with one of their published authors who liked your work that they are more likely to dig your manuscript out of the slush pile and give it a look. Don't some agents and editors only look at manuscripts referred to them by someone else in the first place? Of course, in the end, no one will publish it based on that, so maybe it doesn't matter all that much.

Editorial Anonymous said...

That's fair, anonymous-- if one of an agent's clients liked another writer's work enough to recommend it to the agent, it may make a difference in how fast the agent reads it.

It still won't make a difference in whether the agent takes it on or not, though.

You'll notice, however, that the question doesn't tell us whether the beta reader did like the manuscript well enough to recommend it-- one has to assume not, since he/she did not offer to recommend it to the agent.

Anonymous said...

The letter writer also specifically states that he/she has not asked the author for permission to use their name when contacting the agent. NEVER use somebody's name as a reference without asking them first!

Anonymous said...

As an author, I would rather not have anyone mention my name in a cover letter unless they've talked to me first, and my agent knows this.

The exception is if they're just referencing my book in a general way--saying their book is in the same vein or would appeal to the same kind of reader--that sort of thing is fine.

And if I think a ms. I am critiquing would be a good fit for my agent, I would definitely tell the person so they could get a true recommendation from me. Though at the end of the day, it's still the agent's call!