Based on his reading of a short story of mine a couple of years ago, the Managing Editor of a top publishing house here in NYC offered to read the ms of my novel once it was finished. It's finished. Proofed and re-proofed, though not yet reproved -- which is what I'm most eager to get, as it's currently at 162K words. Problem is, he's prohibited from so much as peeking at an ms unless it comes through the door in the hand of an agent.
Is any of this relevant in a query letter, or would it simply sound like so much name-dropping?
I'm more than happy to give an agent 15% for her time and effort. In this case, all she has to do (it seems to me) is messenger or hand-deliver a document. Not read it, evaluate it, even think about it. And since the understanding I have with this Editor is a prior one, her reputation's not on the line.
Maybe I'm missing something. Please advise.
ya well, you're missing a lot.
First of all, that part about "prohibited from so much as peeking at a manuscript unless it comes through an agent" is bunk. I get at least one call a month from an editor who has a project they got through the back door and now need an agent on board for the process. They've read it, liked it and want to offer on it.
Second, the idea that I don't read everything that goes out of this office with my name on a cover letter is insane. I don't care if you're Stephen King, Gore Vidal AND Laurie King. The ONLY thing I have in this business is my reputatation for offering good projects. I'm not some sort of re-mailing facility.
Third, the publishing turnover rate is about 25% these days. Are you even sure the "managing editor" which is a newspaper title, not a publishing title as far as I know, still there?
And fourth. If you're under the impression that the only thing an agent does is send work to editors, you haven't been paying attention to this blog. That's just the start.
If you sent this information to me in a query letter, as you have it here, I'd probably pass. I prefer to sign clients who understand the value of an agent and don't think they're being kind and generous by paying for that value.
You'd be ahead of the game to simply say "Herbert Hoover at Chicken Pot Pie Press expressed interest in reading my novel after he read a short story of mine in 1962 (or whenever)". Leave out any commentary about how this makes my job easier and I don't have to worry about actually reading the thing. Good writing can overcome nitwittery, it's true, but try not to shoot yourself in the ass.