Offers a Snarkling
Dear Miss Snark,I know agents are all very busy, but why do most of them write in code, e.g., "not quite right for my list"?I know you can't speak for other agents, but why not just tell us what's wrong: the plot goes off in ten directions, there's too much telling and not enough showing, not one of the characters is likable, too much description and backstory, start your story with a BANG. ... I hope you're doing the same kind of critique when someone sends you a real-life critique to your agency. One can only dream.To save time so you don't have to compose responses, which I guess is probably why we get those dreaded form letters, here's an idea. Why not just draw up a checklist of things that are wrong with submissions, then check off the ones that apply when a writer makes a submission and return it in the SASE. We'd know a lot more, and it wouldn't take a lot of your valuable time. Just an idea...
No, Miss Snark is NOT offering her astute and well thought out comments to the writers in the slush pile. Miss Snark sends them a form letter saying "sorry not quite right for us". I'm sorry it's not helpful BUT....Miss Snark's job is NOT offering critiques. Her job is to sell work that is ready for the marketplace.
When you go to an audition to sing at the Met Opera, you get "thank you" at the end, not a critique.
When you submit work to an agent, you're saying you're ready to play in the big leagues.
One of the reasons I launched the Snarkometer was to help blog readers see how I looked at query letters. That's the reason they are on the blog, not handled privately in email...I wanted to reach more than one person at a time; it's a more effective use of resources.
The second reason I don't offer more helpful rejection letters is I've gotten some REALLY snarly letters back from people telling me I was a dimwit with no taste. Some of them were vitriolic enough to scare me, so I stopped doing THAT pretty quickly.
And third, as we've all seen, despite Miss Snark's sophistication and savoir-faire, tastes vary. What I don't like, others do. You can see that here on the blog after I say "yuck" someone will write on the comments line that they liked it.
And agents aren't as busy as they'd like you to think. There's a post on that somewhere back in the archives. If you're a mother of a toddler, trust me, you're busier than Miss Snark. ER doctors, nurses, receptionists, short order cooks too. We've got a lot of work, but generally we don't have hungry or sick people screaming at us to hurry up.