9.18.2006

What Would Miss Snark Do?-updated!

I mentioned to a relative's wife at a recent wedding that I was hoping to get my novel published. She indicated that her relative by marriage, whom she knows slightly, is X, a very successful agent, and offered to intercede on my behalf but wasn't sure how to proceed. Should I simply ask our mutual acquaintance to alert Agent X that my query is on the way and to be sure to give it a look? And then should I refer to our mutual acquaintance up front in my query? Any other suggestions for maximizing this connection? Thanks.


You're joking right?

This is NOT a connection. This is the first draft of a Robert Altman movie.


Clue: "knows slightly"

Clue: "relative by marriage"


One of the surest ways to look like a nitwit is to mention anything like this. It marks you as hopelessly clue free. It marks you as someone who thinks their writing might need the assistance of an introduction cause it's not compelling enough to stand out on its own.

There is a VERY select list of people who get my attention when they are mentioned in a query.

First on the list is Grandmother Snark. Frankly, she's got carte blanche. She wants me to read the pool boy's astrologist's novel, and I'm on the couch reading right now.

Second is a select list of colleagues. About five. I read everything they send my way cause that's how collegiality works.

Third is any editor I've worked with who has read something and sent the author off to find a good agent.

Fourth are people I've worked with for years in various capacities. There are about six of them.

In other words, the connections that count aren't people who know who I am. They are people I know and have worked with. Until your relative by marriage fits that description, you thank Miss Helpful nicely then sit your happy ass down on the piano bench and tap out Variations in the Key of Clue.



And for you nit pickers in the comments section--thanks.

And for you politicians who think merit counts for 3%--there's a reason you work in politics I guess.

And connections, ie knowing an agent, can certainly warm things up, but it's when YOU have the connection. So, if you go to a conference and meet an agent, of course you mention it. If you meet an agent at the supermarket and you are both ready to hurl after walking by the meat department, mention that splendid detail by all means.

This post was from someone trying to build a bridge between two balloons..not a solid foundation and both parties are trying to escape.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Miss Snark,
GEORGE CLOONEY would like you to read a novel. To him, in bed.
Yours,
Grandmother Snark

Anonymous said...

you can simply say to the nice lady - "Oh thank you but I'd never impose on you to do that..."
and then stick by that sentence.

Anonymous said...

Verla Kay was working at a hotel desk and struck up a conversation with one of the guests. Somehow it came out that Verla was a writer and the guest's cousin (or friend or something) was Curtis Brown agent Ginger Knowlton. Introductions were made; contracts were signed.

Yes, I realize it's the exception to the rule; and yes, I realize there had to be talent, not just an introduction.

But it's the stories like this that people remember because it's far more interesting than someone who queried 47 agents, got 6 requests, and was made one offer.

Anonymous said...

Totally disagree with Miss Snark on this. I had cold-queried about a hundred agents and had three partials. I also had three referrals (and not great ones) and had two MS requests and one contract. A referral beats a cold query every time, I don't care if it's from KY's litter mate. There is some chance in this business and 'very successful' agent likely has a full client list. You might *actually* receive feedback.

Anonymous said...

"Four are people I've worked with for years in various capacities. There are about six of them."

umm, a thousand pardons my esteemed madam, but shouldn't this be "Fourth are people..." because the idea that there are six of the four people is perplexing.

Ryan Field said...

There's an old joke where Wife #1 says to wife #2, "My husband just bought me a new diamond necklance."

Wife #2 replies, "Isn't that nice."

Wife #1 goes on to say, "And he bought me a new Lexus last week."

Wife #2 politely replies, "Isn't that nice."

So Wife #1 says, "A month ago he bought me a house in The Hamptons."

Wife #2 sighs, and says, "Isn't that nice."

Then wife #1 asks, "What does your husband buy for you?"

Wife #2 thinks for a moment and says, "Well, he promised that if I started to say 'Isn't that nice' instead of saying 'Fu#%you' he'd buy me absolutely anything I want."

Though "Isn't that nice" could fit into almost any daily situation, it's what the writer should have told the wedding lady.

This Girl I Used to Know said...

Ah, so now in addition to sending out query after query, I also need to add one more item to my "to do" list...

1. Send out new batch of query letters.
2. Meet and befriend Grandmother Snark.

Got it!

Eric said...

See this is where the publishing world way of doing things and mine collide into a great hairball of confusion.

I work in NYC. On Park Avenue. Which is not to brag, but to point out that I'm not a self-employed door to door deep-freezer salesman in Nonugget, Siberia. That being said.... The industry I'm in is thick with, "Hi Tim, we haven’t met, but I'm Bob, and our mutual acquaintance, Gerry, mentioned you to me and thought we should do lunch on the off-chance that something financially beneficial might come of it."

Now I realize that every business has its quirks and ways of doing things, and just because something is the norm in one doesn’t mean it’s even the rarity in the other, but c’mon. I just don't see how this is all that Nit-wittery. If he harped upon it, made a nuisance of himself, than yes. But as a simple introduction line to say how he came to this agent’s name, well....

And I do get that the best path to introducing yourself to an agent would be something akin to, "You represent author X and for that reason I think you might find my work of interest." But at the end of the day, I gotta think with this one you're just trying to earn your moniker.

Not trying to stir up a shit storm. I know it’s your racket and from reading your blog I know you know it very well. So in the end I guess I’m just another Snarkling in need of a blast from the clue gun. Which I’m certain is about to go off in three, two...

JJ said...

Uh... there must be exceptions, or this is a personal preference among agents, as I recently heard a very well-known agent say at a conference that writers should use every contact/referral they could get, as she had recently signed her gardener's father and a friend of a neighbor. And I've heard another agent mention a client connection through her child's daycare.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my hat, that is amusing!

These days when I'm at events where people just know me as myself, not by my writing name, I don't mention what I do. If they insist on knowing I'll say it's a desk job tapping keys and they go away.

Should they find out I'm a writer all is lost, for they'll either assume I'm wealthy (I wish!), have 50 clueless suggestions on how I can hit it big (already have in my own way), or ask me to read their books, (as if).

The next question is always, "How much to get a book published?"

I could go postal but don't wanna end up on the evening news or an ep. of Cops as I'm overweight with terrible style sense.

BradyDale said...

While I agree that this sounds like a tenuous link, I still say follow up. You never know how the relationship goes.
I work in politics and have gotten some things done by pulling on some pretty tenuous links (including getting things published).
Connections are huge. Maybe you've got a will against them Miss Snark,
but as far as I've been able to tell connections are 90% of how anything gets done in this world. Merit is about 3%.

Anonymous said...

One, two, third, four?

Is this what separates the agents and the editors of the world?

Too Little, Too Soon said...

In my most recent search for new representation, I queried six agents with "recommended by..." in the subject line of my email. This resulted in requests for three full manuscripts and three partials.
Unfortunately, the book wasn't ready to be published in the shape it was in. Now, a year and half later, it's a lot more polished. But I've lost six great contacts.

Anonymous said...

As the story from Too Little, Too Soon points out: referrals might help open the door, but no agent is going to represent you because you happen to be a friend of his cousin's first wife.

I had two personal referrals to the same agent. I thought he was The One. Not. After requesting my full, he sent me a form rejection.

I ended up signing with an excellent agent from one of the biggy lit agencies. No personal referral involved.

Too Little, Too Soon said...

I meant to add:
P.S. Anyone want to recommend me to their agent? No questions asked.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Miss Snark, learn grammar.


"One of the surest ways to look like a nitwit is to mention anything like this. It marks you as hopelessly clue free. (Do you mean, "clueless"?) It marks you as someone who thinks their writing might need the assistance of an introduction cause it's not compelling enough to stand out on its own. (Should be: "It marks you as someone who thinks his/her writing might need the assistance...")

Miss Snark said...

No, clue free is exactly the right description for that ...and several other...kinds of things.

blaironaleash said...

'Anonymous said...
Hey, Miss Snark, learn grammar.


"One of the surest ways to look like a nitwit is to mention anything like this. It marks you as hopelessly clue free. (Do you mean, "clueless"?) It marks you as someone who thinks their writing might need the assistance of an introduction cause it's not compelling enough to stand out on its own. (Should be: "It marks you as someone who thinks his/her writing might need the assistance...") '


Gawd Almighty Sarah, as many other wiser souls have suggested, can't you just drop it already? Now that's one agent as well as one editor you can put on the 'Don't Even Think About It' list.

Southern Writer said...

Snarl! Sorry, but I can't let this slip by, Miss Snark.

To the Anonymous' who are finding fault with Miss Snark's grammar: This is a free service, done in addition to Miss Snark's day job. She's probably tying as fast as she can to help us. Didn't anyone teach you not to bite the hand that feeds you? If you don't like it, go read someone else's blog. And good luck with your writing career. Gah! Some people's kids.