Saturday, May 16, 2009

QueryFail, AgentFail, EditorFail, and Prom Dates

An unnamed author to Janet Reid:
Querying agents is like asking someone to the prom. You want the one asked to feel special, not like "I'm only asking you because none of the popular girls would go out with me." To stretch the metaphor, I give a big #agentfail to agents who complain about the number of queries they get. Oh really? 500+ guys have asked you to the prom this month? And you just can't decide which of them to go with? Gee, must be tough being so reputable and popular. Sure, I appreciate that agents have a hard job, but so do I. Quit whining. (Er, them, not you, Janet :D)
This is a good analogy. But maybe not a great one.

It is meaningful for editors and agents to remember the compliment many authors are paying us when they query.

(This is sometimes hard to do, because some of the people querying us are not complimenting us. They clearly know nothing at all about us--whether that's proven by spam emails or through querying something we don't represent/publish. Those queries are the equivalent of the guys who shout propositions at you from moving cars.
Those queries aren't "I think you're pretty and interesting; will you go out with me?"
--they're "Hey you, with the tits!")

It's also meaningful for authors to remember that it's not 500 in a month. It's more like 1500. And like any highschooler, we have a lot of other things to do besides going to prom and dealing with hopeful dates. So it's tough on both sides.

It's fine to expect some sympathy from agents and editors. As long as it's ok for us to expect some sympathy from you.


Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

..."hey you, with the tits"...????


Janet Reid said...

and some of them are "hey you, with the tits" directed to a non-mammal.

Angelle Haney Gullett said...

Thank you, Janet, for so consistently upholding the reptilian side ;-)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. On one hand I agree with this: "... Gee, it must be tough being so reputable and popular..."

It might take the apocolypse, but can you imagine the horror of an agent having NO queries? The panic that would take hold? If it were a movie, I'd cast Will Smith.

Realistically speaking, I think it'd be quite a bit easier for an agent to reject 20, 30, 45 queries a day, giving each query a 30 second to five minute perusal, than it is for the author to spend a year writing the book to get 20 rejects over the course of 7 months (if anyone bothers to answer at all) but that may just be me.

In any case, it doesn't matter if it's hard or not, it's just the way it is. I mean, if you don't like it, stop playing the game.

Unknown said...

Wait, "Hey you, with the tits" is the wrong way to go about things???


Off to go re-write my query letter... again.

Anonymous said...

Some sympathy. But it's kind of like saying "I have 'too' much money." or "I'm just 'too' beautiful"

Same principle.

You're right. It is kind of funny...

Sarah Laurenson said...

LOL - Great post and comments.

I didn't go to the high school prom. Not interested in that kind of party.

I am interested in the publishing party and I'm looking for my prom date now. Taking time to find the right match is all. And I really want the right match.

Selling is about believing in your product. I don't want an agent/editor who doesn't believe in my manuscript.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Yeah-- Since my manuscript can't get a date, I think it's time to give it a makeover.

You know, like it the prom movies where the nerdy girl who's actually quite intelligent and funny gets made over so she's hot, too? =)

Cue musical montage with shots of author cutting, pasting, typing like a madwoman, banging her head on keyboard and throwing monitor out third story window before gorgeous, more polished, better-first-chaptered MS walks in, spins around, and gets the guy.....

Anonymous said...

The amount of angst about this shit is ridiculous.

Who cares about the inner lives of agents? Either they think they're gonna make money from your project or they don't. This isn't a prom, and we're not trying to make friends; this is a business, and we're trying to make money.

Is there a shoe salesman somewhere saying, 'These customers suck. I ask them if I can help them and they're like, 'no thanks.' If this were a prom ...'

none said...

I know nothing about these proms of which you speak, but sheesh...the only 'entitlement' writers have is to what's offered in the guidelines. No likey, no submittey.

David Dittell said...


haha, great way to break down the comparison.

The other thing I would add is this: if you're the school dweeb and you ask The Popular Girl to the prom, you're going to get rejected -- it has to be a good fit to work, and expecting anyone you ask to immediately be thankful and beholden is foolish, bordering on narcissistic.

your date is supposed to enjoy her prom as well; it's not about serving you.