Miss Snark's Dictionary of Agent Speak

Dear supreme divinity (and your human too):
(Killer Yapp is glad to see you recognize divinity when you see it)

All the people who matter (my wife and my mother) have said they don't consider me a nitwit (though the vote is evened up when you ask my two kids), but I'm flummoxed by some agent-speak that I hope you can translate.

I think I understand what "no unsolicited manuscripts" means. It means queries are OK, but don't send the manuscript. (Is that correct?)

Recently, however, I came across an agent who said she gets so many submissions, she is no longer accepting "unsolicited submissions." This strikes me as a bit Yogi Berre-esque ("Nobody goes to that restaurant; it's too crowded.")

Is this further agent-speak for "queries are OK, but don't include manuscripts"? Or does it mean just what it says: No submissions of any kind are welcome? If so, I'm curious how she stays so popular.

I can think of reasonable answers to all these questions, but rather than paste the candidates to my dartboard, I thought I would pilgrimage to the divine font and seek Truth direct from the horse's ars.... uh, mouth. So to speak. My horse's arsis? You really are taking poetic license with my steed bucko.

Thank you for all you do. You are one of a thousand points of light making this a kinder, gentler world.
(Miss Snark is utterly horrified to hear THAT!)

Now, I know you are going to be amazed to hear this but it's quite true: there are some few agents in this world who have enough heavy hitter clients that they simply can't take on anyone new. These are the folks who say "no queries" or "no unsolicited queries". Take them at their word. If you meet them at a conference (unlikely) they might ask for something (that makes it solicited). If your friend says "I'll introduce you to my agent" and her agent is Agent Invitation, then that's also solicited.

You probably won't run into this very often cause the agents in this position usually try to get themselves OFF the lists you see. For them the slush pile is not anything other than a nuisance.


Anonymous said...

Some people just want to be part of the club that doesn't want them as members. It's more satisfying.

Then some people just can't get it through their heads that an agent doesn't need any more work.

There's a lot to be said for growing with an agent who's starting out, and from the start is more receptive to new authors. Being the big fish in a small pond is kind of nice, too.

Anonymous said...

Yup, I hear ya. It's disheartening when you have a limited list of agents that you want to query, but ya gotta go by the rules. Don't want to piss them off - when the window reopens, they might remember the ones who annoyed them. Although that's unlikely when they must face an onslaught of 100 queries a week. Unless they have a photographic memory.

Anonymous said...

Must be nice to be full-up and needing no one new - maybe like Picasso felt when he could scribble on a napkin to pay for lunch. Might be a tad boring, though.