11.22.2005

Unsolicited manuscripts

In the December edition of Writer's Digest, a contributing author indicates how she obtained an agent with her debut novel - she broke all the rules. In addition to ignoring industry protocol on several other points, she mailed her complete 200-page YA novel rather than query agents and wait for requests to review a partial, and then the entire manuscript. She suggests this gives an agent three chances to reject you, so she bypassed the traditional process. I find logic in her initiative, but fear pissing off agents who could potentially view this as presumptuous that they would want to read my complete hard-boiled manuscript. What is your take on this?

This drives me crazy. I hate those "I broke the rules and made it" stories cause now, I've got 600 full manuscripts in MY mailroom, and I can tell you exactly what is going to happen to them: nothing. From a purely practical perspective it's a total waste of money.

Yes, people get published in odd ways. Does that mean that it's the correct way to go? No.
For every "success" story like this there are 250 very unhappy unpublished writers who can't figure out why they didn't hear back from an agent after they sent an unsolicited manuscript.

Now, for those Snarklings who read every post with an eye for consistency--how does this jibe with my lament about being unable to throw away query letters unread? Surely the same principal applies? Well, no.

Unsolicited manuscripts are big, fat, space hogs. Query letters are svelte. For some reason I don't feel a single twinge when I toss manuscripts unread. And I do. All the time. I do not want to spend my time reading unsolicited manuscripts. I want to spend it reading work I've expressed an interest in. And really, if you think about it, so do you.

Why Writers Digest doesn't publish that with a warning "don't try this at home" I do not know.

3 comments:

Mad Scientist Matt said...

Why Writers Digest doesn't publish that with a warning "don't try this at home" I do not know.

Because they would have to apply that same warning to virtually every "publisher" and "agent" that puts ads with them saying "Actively seeking new clients."

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, that author's first novel got a star from PW along with stellar reviews everywhere else, and she was named a PW Flying Start. Conventional wisdom may say not to break rules, but conventional wisdom also says that you can break the rules if you're good enough. Apparently, she is.

Problem is, all writers think their books are good enough to get stars from PW--leading to a lot of hassles for the agents and editors who have to go through the slush.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Well actually the woman that wrote the article did put a warning...The second paragraph of the article like this...(A caveat: Try these at your own risk!)

The funniest thing about the article (don't go into seizure Miss Snark) The manuscripts were bound!