1.23.2006

Yo: yo mama

Oooh, I feel so dirty, now. Last year I did multiple email queries. Personalized them, though. Sometimes I even queried three and four agents at the same agency. Worse, I didn't check to see if they accepted email queries!

But wait, it gets worse. One of the agents I queried emailed me back. She was aware I was submitting to other agents in the office! She didn't even accept email queries, she said. Wait again.

Now it gets good. I signed with her. Turns out she liked my book. You and your rules, Agent Cool. So not cool.


Great.

Look sometimes exceptions work. Sometimes. Not always, not often and not most of the time. When you post this kind of "I did the exact opposite of what Miss Snark said was industry standard" and I got an agent!!! you do a HUGE disservice to the 85% who will not be the exception to the rule.

This is the same kind of thing that ruined BEA: people went there, hooked up with a publisher, told eveyrone how they "broke the rules" and now every nitwit with a manuscript thinks its the secret way to success.

This blog is not about the exceptions. This blog is about how not to shoot yourself in the foot by querying sixteen agents at the same agency and getting nothing from any of them, cause that IS the norm.

There's a business book, I think one of the Guerilla books, that advises "at a football game, throw business cards in the air at every touchdown; you never know who you might contact." Sounds all innovative and shit till you think about it. When was the last time you picked up a business card off a sticky stadium floor and said "wow, this is great, I was hoping to hear from a life insurance salesman today". Sure it might work, maybe. But wouldn't your time and money be better spent calling people who have had a new baby and might now NEED extra insurance. Exactly.

The unsexy advice is: do what has the most chance of success.

I'm not telling you to follow the rules cause I'm some sort of thin lipped Prussian martinet with a yen for order (despite all evidence to the contrary). I'm telling you this cause it's mostly how things actually work.

6 comments:

M. G. Tarquini said...

So you really ARE looking for authors who can follow the guidelines, not authors with vision who slip in through the sidelines...

*calls to cancel the blimp and the sky divers.*

Bill Peschel said...

Seems to me that if the author's book was good enough to sell through unorthodox methods, it would have sold anyway using the usual routes.

M. G. Tarquini said...

That makes perfect sense, Bill. And isn't that what everybody keeps saying? Over and over?

Jarsto said...

I once got a good grade on a paper I wrote mainly in the night before it was due. This doesn't mean that waiting until the night before something is due and skipping sleep to write the paper is a strategy for getting good grades. I'd guess that for every time it works for someone there are many people who don't get good grades from similar efforts.

Sure doing something wrong with an e-query can work for someone at some point in time. But like writing a paper the night before it's due I wouldn't recommend doing it. And like Bill said, if you can sell going against the rules the work is certainly good enough that it'll sell when you follow the rules.

zornhau said...

Ho ho! One lemming drinking Red Stripe on the beach does not prove that lemmings as a whole have a viable vacation strategy.

bordermoon said...

Anything's possible, but some things are more likely to occur than others. Or, as my Dear Old Dad used to say, "(your choice of result here MAY happen, but it's not the way to bet."