Agents get a lot of queries, way more than we can represent. That means a lot of competition for querying writers. Believe me, I have plenty of experience querying as well and understand the frustration. Sometimes being an agent and knowing how it all works soothes the rejection, but not always. Rejecting queries is my least favorite part of agenting. I know how those rejections feel having been on the other end of them. But when it comes down to it agents might only take a handful of new authors a year but receive hundreds of queries. Currently I’m building my client list with vigor, which means I’m hungrily looking to fill out my list, but even then I still get way more queries than I can represent.
So why do I reject queries? A lot of people assume the majority of rejections are due to bad writing or us hating the queries. Most queries where the writing falls short just need another round or two of edits or are newer authors who will improve with time. Often a project needed one more round of edits before querying, but there is too much editing needed for me to feel comfortable taking on the project. I’m a big fan of Revise and Resubmits because if this is the case but I love the project, I’ll request a R&R to see how the author handles the edits. Being able to edit well is a key to success as an author. Continue reading “Why I Reject Queries”
When it comes to communication I’m a typical millennial, which means I prefer emails to phone calls. To me email is faster and more convenient than waiting around to schedule a call. The vast majority if not all of my communications with clients is done over email. Not only is it convenient for me, but it frees my phone up for emergency and editor calls. Having most communication done over email is pretty typical these days. If you are the type who relies on phone calls to discuss everything, then I’m probably not the agent for you.
As an editor I never did phone calls. Even my job interviews with houses were all done via email as well as my communication with authors. Basically I got accustomed to doing everything via email. Not to mention many of my clients hold other day jobs and while they can’t do a call during work hours, they can email. I often wonder if the offer email will start to trump the offer call in the digital era. I have signed clients without phone calls and to me they are no different than clients who I called. The email signings went so smoothly I have considered switching to the offer email across the board. Continue reading “My Communication Style”
Ever wonder how agents decide who to submit a project to and how we keep track of all those editors? The very not glamorous answer is spreadsheets, networking, and Publishers Marketplace. Publishers Marketplace (PM) can help keep track of agents for querying authors as well. If you are willing to throw money at a membership, even if for only a month, you can learn a lot from PM.
I keep crazy long spreadsheets of editors arranged by house and imprint. I have one for YA editors and a separate one for editors accepting adult books. When I say long I mean my spreadsheets can go up to hundreds of rows long. PM’s newsletter announces when editors move, leave, or new editors get prompted. New imprints or closing imprints also get announced. My spreadsheet helps me keep track of what genres editors accept, where they are, if they recently moved, and what past titles they’ve bought that are similar to the type of books I either represent or want to represent. If I or a coworker talked to the editor recently, I make notes of what they said they are looking for. Editors move around a lot and my spreadsheet makes sure I keep track of those moves and possibly changes in their acquisitions focus with their moves. Continue reading “Keeping Track of Editors”
I’ve been thinking about pitch letters to editors a lot lately, mainly because I’m working on several. Authors are always talking about querying agents, but I notice many don’t know what to expect when their agent pitches editors. Basically the pitch letter is querying 2.0, but this time to editors. What makes the pitch letter more difficult is they can vary more than your regular queries in style. I’ve seen completely different approaches to pitching. Agents hone their own pitch styles. Some even prefer to call up editors to pitch over the phone.
I remember during one of my internships we did an exercise where all of us interns wrote a pitch for the same project. None of them were the same. Even when we focused on the same aspects of the book, we all chose a different wording. All the pitches varied depending on each intern’s own style and what stood out to them. I’ve talked about subjectivity playing a role in offers and sales before, but subjectivity can also play a role in how an agent pitches. Continue reading “The Pitch Letter”
Wool is part of Hugh Howey’s Silo series. Wool is about a post-apocalyptic America where people live in underground silos. I’ve already read the second book in the series, Shift, and I find the world building of the series brilliant. I also wanted to review this because Hugh Howey got famous for his indie success before getting a print only deal with a major publisher. If you haven’t read any indie books but like post apocalyptic fiction, I recommend this series. Hugh Howey also has a lot of other great science fiction books.
So what’s it about? Sheriff Holston misses his wife and is breaking under his grief. He asks to go outside, a big taboo for the residents due to the toxic air outside. Juliette gets appointed sheriff after Holston against her will. However, Holston’s decision set off a chain of reactions leading to an uprising and some of the sordid history of the silos being revealed. Continue reading “Book Review: Wool”
During my time reading queries whether for myself or another agent, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over. Querying is hard and you don’t want to be your own biggest barrier to finding representation. If you’ve done your research these mistakes shouldn’t be a problem. However, many of the authors I see making these mistakes often appear to have not done their research on querying and end up hurting themselves right out of the gate. Remember to always be prepared and well-informed to give yourself the best chance!
Not following submission guidelines. I see this far too often. If an agent says to query them on a specific form or at a specific email, do so. Not following guidelines is an easy way to get your query rejected and possibly not even seen by an agent. Guidelines exist for a reason and going against them will make you stand out, but not for a good reason. Make sure you are pitching agents who represent your genre and age category. Don’t get yourself started off on the wrong foot by not following guidelines. Continue reading “Querying Mistakes to Avoid”
The Lost Season of Love and Snow is about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s wife Natalya. I loved this book and recommend it to fans of Russian history, controversial female figures, and historical dramas. While it is heavily character driven, the book kept me riveted. I can see this appealing to fans of books such as The Most Beautiful Woman in Florence and My Dear Hamilton.
Alexander Pushkin is Russia’s most famous poet. When he dies from wounds inflicted in a duel meant to protect his wife’s honor, Natalya is blamed for his death. The story explores Natalya’s story from how she met Alexander, their dramatic marriage, and his death and the events leading to it. While there is tragedy to this book, the romance helps keep the book from becoming too dark and gloomy and while avoiding spoilers, the ending let’s you walk away on a positive note. Continue reading “Book Review: The Lost Season of Love and Snow”