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Shuriken
10-25-2008, 08:08 PM
This is my first post on this fine forum. I am also a first time author--I run my own business and hugely enjoy it and it is fully my priority, but I wrote a short non-fiction book and sent out some queries. Here are my experiences thus far.

1. I bought Jeff Herman's book, and it's great. But, word of warning to all writers: it's RIDDLED with errors, minor to major. Some agent's names are spelled wrong, for example. I pity the poor writers who send a query to an agent without first checking, and the salutation has the agent's name wrong. Not a good start to a query. ALWAYS DOUBLE CHECK AN AGENT'S NAME AND FIRM.

I might add that for a tome that insists (correctly, I'm sure) that a query or proposal must be 100% error-free (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc), the Herman book has grammaticals every other page! Minor point, but not so much a lead-by-example thing, eh?

2. Queries. Most web sites and books suggest that replies usually take 2-6 weeks. I've found the vast majority come back quickly. Email queries, especially--I've had replies in one minute to 24 hours, and tons in between. I had two from NYC (I'm on the Left Coast) arrive by snail mail within a week. So replies seem to come very quickly from email queries, and somewhat promptly via snail mail. None have taken over a week!

My tally ended at three proposal requests and 12 rejections. The rejections varied from short: "No thank you" to nice notes of explanation. The majority simply said, "I don't feel I'm the right agent for this book." One proposal was rejected; I'm waiting on the other two.

3. Writers. As I said, I have a full time job that pays the bills and I enjoy. Thus, writing this book was a side project. Of course, the rejections still stung. My real point, however, is to all of you full-time writers with your heart and soul in a book. I'm not particularly invested in my book, and it still stung to be rejected--you, who are probably more dedicated to the craft, and have spent months/years on a book..I feel for you. I prefer to believe the notes that say a book isn't right for an agent (read: he doesn't think he/she can sell it) and that's fine and fair.

But for all the writers out there--you have this noob beginner's respect. Keep on keepin' on!

Cheers,

Dave

Susan Breen
10-25-2008, 09:12 PM
Thank you! And welcome to AW.

happywritermom
10-25-2008, 09:51 PM
Welcome! I've learned to enjoy rejection. I keep several of the best ones on my wall above my desk.

Nymtoc
10-25-2008, 10:42 PM
Thanks for the post, Shuriken.

In contrast to you, I've been sending things out for a long time. I didn't realize Jeff Herman's book had a lot of errors. However, I've been double-checking anyway. After I decide to query an agent, I always check the Web, and if the agent has a website (some still do not), I verify the submission information as well as I can.

I just queried an agent about a novel by snail mail, got an email response the next day asking for a partial. I sent the partial by email. The day after that I got an email rejection.

I've found that some agents take time to write a polite note while others send a printed, unsigned rejection slip. Time of response has varied from one day (above) to a month or two to no response at all. In those cases, it looks like I wasted a 42-cent stamp on the SASE. Should I sue?

:D

stormie
10-25-2008, 10:53 PM
Welcome to AW!

Yeah, it's a fun profession. A writer learns:

how to cross-reference (so no matter what a reference book like Jeff Hermann's say, you google it, go to agentquery.com, etc.),

learns how to rip open an envelope and if it's a rejection, toss it into the garbage in one second flat,

know how to do the Snoopy dance when it's an acceptance (even if the pay is two copies of the magazine),

commiserate,

write in between posting here,

not spew coffee all over the keyboard when reading something funny (or writing something you think is funny)....

Yep. Fun times! And thank you for your vote of support to writers. :)

vixey
10-25-2008, 11:02 PM
Welcome!

And what everyone else said. Writing is an interesting journey and just when you think you've finished, your path detours into query land (aka Hell). But there are plenty of bright spots in that pit. And the light at the end of the tunnel is the next novel waiting to be written. :)

donroc
10-25-2008, 11:15 PM
Welcome and enjoy.

jannawrites
10-26-2008, 05:30 AM
Great post, Shuriken! Thanks for the words of wisdom. And welcome to AW! :)

blacbird
10-26-2008, 06:24 AM
2. Queries. Most web sites and books suggest that replies usually take 2-6 weeks. I've found the vast majority come back quickly. Email queries, especially--I've had replies in one minute to 24 hours, and tons in between. I had two from NYC (I'm on the Left Coast) arrive by snail mail within a week. So replies seem to come very quickly from email queries, and somewhat promptly via snail mail. None have taken over a week!

You mean . . . you actually get . . . replies?

caw

Shuriken
10-26-2008, 07:51 PM
Quoth the Shuriken: Evermore! I get rejection replies all too quickly!

JeanneTGC
10-28-2008, 05:03 AM
I found Agent Query to be far more accurate than either Jeff Herman's Guide or the Novel & Short Story Writer's reference. Agent Query also vets the agents in it, so the risk of hitting a scammer through them is markedly reduced.

www.agentquery.com