At the end of this article: LINK a question is asked: How can agents impress writers?.
I would like to go one better than just a reply to the article that no one may ever see.
So, as one author, I would like to answer that question. How can an agent impress me? And I believe most authors will agree with me on these points.
– First, give us a response please. We work hard to find good agents through research on the Internet and by paying lots of money to join writer associations and attend conferences and workshops. Not to mention, the work we’ve put into our book itself. A simple “Thank You but we’re not interested” response is a lot easier than what we’ve done on our end.
– Having said that, to really impress us, give us some feedback. If you’re just not interested in that type of story, fine. But if you see problems that could be fixed and you’re already personalizing a response, is it so hard to go those extra few words and say “your query could use some work” or “your synopsis needs punching up” or even “looks good, just not my thing”? If we knew what an agent didn’t like about our submissions, we could fix it and you as an agent, might wish you had when – a year down the road you see the book you rejected published and possibly skyrocketing to the top of the best-seller list.
Instead of giving us a chance to fix that mistake and developing a relationship with a terrific author, you passed and then you missed out.
I know we can’t all be J. K. Rowling but the law of statistics says that there have to be great writers out there who are being passed over. Keep in mind that a bad query is not always indicative of a bad book and some of us novelists have a really hard time with a synopsis. That’s why we’re novelists. We don’t do “in a nutshell” very we’ll.
– Lastly, remember that we are people too. You can say all you want that a rejection is not personal but when an author gets a form letter rejection or worse, no response at all, we take it personally. We can’t help it. The work is very personal. Writing a novel or a short story or even a poem is a very personal thing. We are pouring out things from our mind or our heart, sometimes both and it doesn’t get any more personal than that.
This story is a part of us. It is something we have worked hard over, sweated over, screamed and cried over. it is a little piece of who we are. And we hold up that piece for intense scrutiny by total strangers and can only hope we don’t get raked over the coals too many times. Or worse, ignored.
This may be one of the reasons agents have gone to form letters. They don’t want to be responsible for feeling like they’ve ripped someone’s dream to shreds. But what you don’t realize is this: we can’t fix what we don’t know about. The real torture with form letter rejections and the “no response means no” policy is the not knowing why. Not knowing if we could do something to make it better, cleaner, more interesting.
And I know it’s trite and most of you will probably think it has no place in business but remember the golden rule. Would you really want your business associates and the publishing houses, your contacts in this industry, to treat you the way you’re treating the authors who work up the courage to throw themselves to your mercy?
Just something to think about…
Check back soon for more musings and other nonsense from my head.
© J. C. Morrows 2013
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God Bless You!