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ukwriter
04-06-2009, 10:20 AM
If I could expound on an earlier question about form rejection letters, I guess my main gist was: wouldn't it save time for both agents and aspiring authors if the letters at least gave reasons for the rejection? If a teacher consistently rejected (failed) 98% of her students based on the first one or two questions on a test, there would be demands to change the system. Yet most agents base their decisions on a paragraph, or worse, a one or two sentence "hook", and aspiring authors accept the "not for us" form letter as evidence that their book needs work. I know agents are very busy, but wouldn't everyone benefit if they could be just a tad more informative? Most people sending in queries have already had writing classes, had their work critiqued, and read volumes on how to write a query letter. With few exceptions, the feedback we get from agents just isn't helping.

Toothpaste
04-06-2009, 04:04 PM
Most people sending in queries have already had writing classes, had their work critiqued, and read volumes on how to write a query letter. With few exceptions, the feedback we get from agents just isn't helping.

Sorry, I know this thread is for Jennifer to answer, but I had to make a comment about this statement. This is actually so not true. Most people sending in queries these days have absolutely no clue about the industry. I'm not saying that you don't, or that many people out there don't do their homework (otherwise I'd be dissing myself as well), but I mean this is in a more comforting way. From the information I gather from agents it appears that upwards of 95% of the stuff agents get is from individuals who have no clue, who send in queries on sparkly scented paper, who don't even write a query but say, "Read my book!". I had an agent tell me that she gets overly sexual queries sent to her that have nothing to do with writing but everything to do with the person sending the query getting off on the fact that she is a female agent. Most queries agents get have poor spelling, atrocious grammar, and no concept of how to craft a story.

And this I think is oddly positive for authors such as ourselves. It means if you do do all those things that you assume every author is doing, you are in the top 5% of submissions. It means the odds are so much greater in your favour.

It also means however that agents are terrified in engaging in any dialogue with a rejected author for fear that author is just plain nuts. You may then suggest, "Well only reply to the ones who are obviously sane", but I've read far too many blogs by agents where the agent has attempted just that only to have the author reply venomously. There is no guarantee how someone will react to negative feedback, and as you know, an agent's first job is to her clients, not the people querying. Would you really want your agent engaged in a back and forth with some person who's just plain crazy? Wouldn't you rather she work on selling your book?

Anyway, sorry to answer that question, I'm sure Jennifer will as well, but I just had to say something.

jclarkdawe
04-06-2009, 05:31 PM
If I could expound on an earlier question about form rejection letters, I guess my main gist was: wouldn't it save time for both agents and aspiring authors if the letters at least gave reasons for the rejection? If a teacher consistently rejected (failed) 98% of her students based on the first one or two questions on a test, there would be demands to change the system. Yet most agents base their decisions on a paragraph, or worse, a one or two sentence "hook", and aspiring authors accept the "not for us" form letter as evidence that their book needs work. I know agents are very busy, but wouldn't everyone benefit if they could be just a tad more informative? Most people sending in queries have already had writing classes, had their work critiqued, and read volumes on how to write a query letter. With few exceptions, the feedback we get from agents just isn't helping.

Like Toothpaste, I think this needs to be responded to both by Jennifer and by the other side -- writers. I hang out in Query Letter Hell (Query Letters & Synopses (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174)) and have done so for over two years now. Having seen no where near the number of queries that an agent sees, I've still seen a lot.

Consistently, in QLH we see queries that show writing skill but show a complete lack of:
Understanding why word count matters and genre expectations of word counts
Understanding what their central plot is
Unable to describe characters effeciently
Understanding what a bio should and should not contain
Understand why a query needs to work quicklyI could go on, but the answer to all of this stuff is out there. Agents like Jennifer are out there telling us what we need to do. Through blogs, interviews, articles, and other sources, you can find out what you need to write a successful query (and book).

It's not an agent's job to help you write an effective query. There are several places (with varying degrees of skill) where you can get help with a query.

As Toothpaste says, go out and learn about the industry. Writing is a business and no one is going to hand you the keys to it on a silver platter (but I don't know any business that does).

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ukwriter
04-06-2009, 06:31 PM
Sorry, guys, but I'm still not convinced. I'm sure that agents receive a lot of dreck, and that lots of query writers don't have a clue. But even the Navy Seals don't reject such a high percentage of their applicants. We've all heard the story of how Tom Clancy got so fed up with years of rejection from agents that he finally went to the Navy to get published. When the agents saw that the public actually liked his books, then they took notice. And we've all heard that Mario Puzo spent five years trying to convince agents that The Godfather was worthwhile. Are we to believe that agents are always right, and that these authors simply needed to polish their query writing skills? I'm not saying that agents should carry on a personal correspondence with every query writer, but these "not for us" form letters are a complete waste of time. For the most part, the current system is a Catch 22, where the big publishers won't look at anyone who doesn't have an agent, and the established agents won't look at anyone who hasn't been published. As Jennifer told me earlier, even being e-published carries no weight. I seem to be alone in feeling that there is currently too much power in the hands of too few people, but I still appreciate this forum letting me express my views.

waylander
04-06-2009, 07:27 PM
For the most part, the current system is a Catch 22, where the big publishers won't look at anyone who doesn't have an agent, and the established agents won't look at anyone who hasn't been published.

So you look for the newly established agents - those who have just been promoted from assistant or used to be editors.

(btw I don't agree with your assertion)

Toothpaste
04-06-2009, 08:16 PM
Unfortunately while you don't think we are telling you the truth, ironically it is you who are way off. Every single author friend I know got an agent through the slush pile. Not a single one of them was published before nor had any connections in the industry. Yes, even established agents take on unpublished authors. I was one such author with one such agency.

Your comparison to Navy Seals is also fallacious. I doubt the Navy Seals gets the same number of submissions as agents do. What's more it is known that to enter the Seals you must be in pretty darn good shape, the Seals have a reputation of being a hard work place. These days because everyone owns a computer, everyone thinks they are an author. Everyone you talk to talks of "writing a book someday". Back when you had to write your book longhand, type it up on a typewriter, put in physical effort, yes your comparison would have held much more water. But these days everyone and their dog (literally) thinks they can write. What's more because of blogs and self publishing and all that making it uber easy for people to get their voices out there and making celebrities of some, people think they deserve to be published. These sorts of people are the majority, 95%, of what agents have to put up with. Believe it or not, but just because it seems so crazy to you, doesn't make it not true.

No one is saying agents are gods. They are people, they are fallible. They often pass on books that go on to be bestsellers. But look at it this way. Do you love every book you pick up in a book store? No. How do you judge if you will like a book? Chances are you look at the cover and the title. If that intrigues you, you read the back cover. If that gets your attention you read a few pages. And if that does it for you, you buy the book. That is the exact same process an agent goes through. Agents don't have to like every book that comes their way. If I was an agent I would have rejected Twilight from the query letter, it so does not interest me. I am sure some agents did. But someone eventually liked it, and it sold like hotcakes. Does that make those agents who rejected it stupid? No. It makes them people with different tastes. To say agents are obligated in representing books that they hate but know will make money, is just so cold. If that was the case then all we would probably get are blockbuster novels. Thanks goodness agents DO pass up on those novels and find other ones that might not sell as well, but that they feel passionately about.

As to the "not for us" form letters being a waste of time, uh, no they aren't. What other business do you expect a long drawn out explanation as to why you didnt' get to the next stage? When you send resumes for work, do you expect them to call you and explain to you why you didn't get an interview? These people don't owe you anything. They owe their clients. No means no. What's so terrible about that?

And honestly, you can't do the math? If your query is being rejected only, you are getting no requests for partials and fulls, then that can just mean that your query sucks. Get people to look at it. If you get rejections on partials and fulls, yes I think at that stage it would be nice to get some feedback, and usually you do, but even if you don't, them's the breaks. It's time to take a good hard honest look at your work and see if there is room for improvement.

But what boggles my mind mostly is that you are in the UK and you don't need to worry about being judged only on your query letter. In the UK you get the luxury of submitting a cover letter, one page synopsis and first three chapters right off the bat. So what exactly are you complaining about there?

In business people don't owe you anything until they are your partner. Agents don't owe you explanations, as much as it would be nice to get one. Trust me, like I said before, when you get an agent, you don't want them spending all their time answering queries and not focusing on your work. Agents work upwards of 12 hour days, for, shock, not that much pay. They do it because they are passionate about books. They will give books a shot that might be a little off the norm, they will edit your work with you even though technically they are doing it for free. They will give you pep talks when you're down, and fight in your corner when the publisher does something you don't like. If you think they can do all that, for multiple clients (as well as negotiate contracts of foreign and domestic rights etc, and, you know, have somewhat of a life), AND critique query letters, well that's just crazy. And unbelievably unfair.

It ain't perfect. But my word, it's not as evil as some people are making it out to be. We are all human, all fallible. And I have yet to meet an agent who didn't truly care about books. Nor a published author who didn't get there by wading through the slush pile.

jclarkdawe
04-06-2009, 09:26 PM
You're not alone in your beliefs. That's why vanity presses and Publish America exist.

Now I guess when I went looking for an agent I was a published author. I had a nonfiction book that had been published and has now sold through. In other words, EQUINE LIABILITY made the publisher and me money (the point of this whole game). Unfortunately, I blew what connections that might have gained me (I don't think they were much of a connection) trying to sell a piece of crap.

So as a published author, I did what everybody needs to do. I worked to produce a good story, coupled with a good query, and worked like hell to sell it. Still haven't sold it to a publisher, because there's still a lot of work to make that happen. Toothpaste, I believe, didn't have any publishing credits before she found an agent and a publisher. But I believe she did the same thing I did -- good story, good query, and worked like hell.

And I know a bunch of other authors who started the same way.

Mario Puzo when he wrote THE GODFATHER already had two published books and a career in the publishing industry. Tom Clancy approached numerous publishers before approaching a smaller, specialty press . That's how it happens sometimes. Both of them expanded a lot of hard work to get where they are, but very few writers haven't had to do the same thing.

Reality is that there is a limit to how many books can be published in one year. The exact number is hard to calculate, but is basically the number of readers times how much they are willing to spend in one year. Putting extra books on the market results in even more books selling less than 500 editions (a loser for any publisher).

Each year a certain number of writers leave the industry, due to death, changed interests, retirement, poor sales, and a host of other reasons. Each year the industry needs to replace those writers with new writers, all of them debut. I forget the percentage of books that are debut novels, but there are a fair amount of openings. Problem is there are a lot more people trying to fill the openings than can fit.

And rather than looking at the Navy Seals, look at the National Football League. Look at how many high school boys play football. I think there are 34 teams in the NFL, with approximately 50 players per team, or approximately 1700 professional players. Think about 98% of the high school players have been dropped?

Study the industry. Go to places like query letter hell and work on your query. The more you know, the better off you are.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

ukwriter
04-06-2009, 09:32 PM
Toothpaste, the Navy Seal comparison was a bit of satire. But am I the only aspiring author on this thread? I can't believe that anyone who has been through this system long enough is so adamant to defend it. Sure, we can try new agents, but if they're too new, how much are the publishers going to pay attention to them? And if you know people who have had no trouble finding agents, more power to them. To me, any system that spends years rejecting authors such as Clancy or Puzo needs a bit of tweaking. Would it really hurt agents to at least give us a clue, such as saying the characters need development, or the plot is a bit slow? Seems like it would save trouble for all involved. "Not for us" or "the market is tight" tells us nothing. As for asking "Do I like everything I read?" the answer is no. But unlike most agents, I do give a book more than a sentence or two's chance before deciding I don't like it. If you choose to believe that the current publisher/agent connection isn't a Catch 22, fine. I shall continue to believe otherwise.

Toothpaste
04-06-2009, 09:38 PM
I don't believe it. I know it. And isn't it saying something that people who have been through this system, are defending it? Doesn't that suggest that maybe it isn't as wretched as you are making it out to be? (btw that isn't saying I think it's perfect, but your assertions, for the most part, are quite simply wrong)

I have a singing lesson to go to, but when I return I shall go in search of a recent agent blog post that explained why it is difficult for agents just to offer simple comments such as "the characters need development" etc. It was a good one, and considering she's actually an agent, and I'm an author and so don't know all the little details in being an agent, she's far better suited to quote. Give me a couple hours.

ukwriter
04-06-2009, 09:55 PM
Just one more thing. I've read everything imaginable about writing query letters, and one time I conducted an experiment. I took a sample letter from a book on writing query letters (several agents had raved about how brilliant it was) put my name on it, and sent it off to several big agencies. Guess what? Form rejections with no requests for material. Yeah, it was cheating, but it told me something about the system I was dealing with.

waylander
04-06-2009, 10:01 PM
You know what - when you're close agents do give you the encouragement you're looking for, UK agents certainly do. Trust me on this. I have a UK agent; it took 5 and a half years but an number of agents and editors encouraged me along the way.
If you're not getting that encouragement then you're not close. So what are you going to do? You can whine about it or you can take a long look at your writing and set about improving it.

jclarkdawe
04-06-2009, 10:10 PM
But unlike most agents, I do give a book more than a sentence or two's chance before deciding I don't like it.

Actually, you do the same thing an agent does. You reject based upon title, cover, genre, and blurb. Consistently.

Let's say you walk into a very small bookstore. There's only one thousand books in the store. Let's say you want a mystery, and the book store only has one hundred mysteries. You've already rejected 90% of the books without even trying.

So out of those hundred books, you're going to give each author a real shot at getting your interest. You're going to read the first ten pages (approximately 2,500 words). Will ignore picking up and putting back books and say you can read at 500 words per minute (which is rather high). This gives you five minutes for each book.

Five minutes per book times one hundred books is five hundred minutes or over eight hours. Do you do that, or do you look at covers and blurbs to discard at least ninety of those books? An agent gives queries on average thirty seconds. For a hundred books this works out to about an hour.

Did you reject those 90 books in less than an hour? I bet you did. My guess is you've now rejected 990 books in less than ten minutes (by the way, this puts you at actually looking at less than 1% of the books).

My guess is the reality is you reject books just as fast, if not faster, then an agent does.

By the way, my intent here is not to say that either you or agents are wrong. This is just the way reality works.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

Cyia
04-06-2009, 10:39 PM
Toothpaste, the Navy Seal comparison was a bit of satire. But am I the only aspiring author on this thread? I can't believe that anyone who has been through this system long enough is so adamant to defend it.

You're not the only aspiring writer here, but you are mired in misinformation.


Sure, we can try new agents, but if they're too new, how much are the publishers going to pay attention to them? And if you know people who have had no trouble finding agents, more power to them.

That's why you look for a new agent at an established agency - one who has put in the time as an assistant to know how the system works. They have the strength and connections of not just their name, but their agency behind them.


To me, any system that spends years rejecting authors such as Clancy or Puzo needs a bit of tweaking.

An easy assumption to make if you're a fan of either or both. Many people aren't, and many people don't rep. their genres. No one comes out of the gate being a "star" of the literary world. They had to get a break like everyone else. Once people got to read their writing, it became clear that an agent had made a wise decision to sign them, but their books could have just as easily tanked.


Would it really hurt agents to at least give us a clue, such as saying the characters need development, or the plot is a bit slow? Seems like it would save trouble for all involved.

Writing a detailed analysis of the 95% of submissions that are unprintable garbage, or expecting people to understand that when the guidelines say "no response = NO" then they've gotten their answer...

The fact is, it's not easier on anyone. It's not easier on the agent who has to put into writing how atrocious most of their submissions are, and it's certianly not easier on the writer who thinks their MS is a masterwork, but has written something awful.

Read a few agent blogs, or blog posts. I'm thinking of one by Ginger Clark from Curtis Brown in particular. She used to give a simple, and professional, form rejection. After a month, she stopped because instead of moving on, too many of those she rejected hit the "auto reply" and sent back highly inappropriate (or physically impossible) repsonses.

Look at the contestants on American Idol (or Pop Idol); most of them don't take honest critique well. They puff out their chests and get their hackles up and belittle the informed opinions of the men and women they came to impress. One opinion, two minutes, and suddenly the expert whose words were gold has been reduced to the status of an ignorant (Jealous!!!) plebian who doesn't have the sense to know greatness when it's ten feet in front of them.



"Not for us" or "the market is tight" tells us nothing.

It tells you plenty. It tells you that you submitted to someone who either doesn't rep your genre or doesn't mesh with your style. It also tells you, in the opinion of someone who has information you don't, that the market can't currently bear another book of a certain type.


As for asking "Do I like everything I read?" the answer is no. But unlike most agents, I do give a book more than a sentence or two's chance before deciding I don't like it.

You also don't have thousands upon thousands of people mailing, emailing, calling, messaging, twittering, facebooking, myspacing ... whatever every piece of dreck that falls out of their pen and/or word processor to every known contact address for you, then phoning to make sure you got it. You don't have an established client list that you have to work with. You don't have pending contracts that you are required to handle.

Answering queries is a very small part of an agent's job, as it should be. Their primary concern isn't the "next" client; it's the current one they don't want to lose by being inattentive.


If you choose to believe that the current publisher/agent connection isn't a Catch 22, fine. I shall continue to believe otherwise.

And you shall continue to come off as a whiner who doesn't want the rules to apply to them. Everyone, unless they have connections from their pre-writing life, has to go through the same process. And it involves the same steps. Those without agents, seek agents so that the agents can utilize contacts a writer doesn't have access to, OR you look for publishers that allow unagented submissions. Either way, you're going to have to make a stellar presentation and cut loose the sense of entitlement that will get you out of the slush pile - but straight into the shredder.

If you're this difficult to please now, no agent is going to want to handle you.

ukwriter
04-06-2009, 11:36 PM
Okay, people. I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Providing that they handle material in the suspense/thriller genre, kindly give me the names of these agents who are so friendly to new writers and I'll give them a try. And just so you know that I'm not one of the masses who can't even write a query letter, let alone a novel, I'll relate one more experience which has shaped my opinions. I sent a query to Darley Anderson, the biggest agency in London, and received a reply that they loved it and wanted to see some sample chapters. I got another reply saying they loved the sample and wanted the manuscript. Believing I was near representation, I called them to inform them of one small detail. I'd been visiting my daughter in London and had mailed my material from her address. I actually was from Ipswich. The voice on the phone went from enthusiasm to sounding as if I'd informed them of a death in the family. I ended up getting a rambling excuse stating that while the novel was brilliant, they couldn't be sure it would sell enough copies. It could have been true, but I can't believe the quality of my writing suddenly went downhill after the first few chapters that they liked so well. Just FYI, and I'll await those agents names.

waylander
04-06-2009, 11:46 PM
While you're waiting this may be worth looking at
http://www.writersconference.co.uk/
There is an extensive programme of one-to-one meetings with writers and agents and booking opens soon.

Toothpaste
04-06-2009, 11:48 PM
lol, I'm sorry ukwriter, but if you are implying that the reason Darley Anderson rejected your MS was because you didn't live in London, I'm afraid, there again you are wrong.

I am represented by Darley Anderson. I live in Toronto, Canada.

(not to mention Lee Child, Tana French and John Connolly are in Ireland, and many others are from all over the UK)

Don't you think maybe it's possible that actually, yes, your writing might not have held up in the latter part of your work? Not saying it's true, but it's not like that hasn't happened many times before to other authors, otherwise all positive partials would result in offers of representation.

(I still confess to being slightly confused about your query issue. You did also send them a one page synopsis and first three chapters right from the off right? It's stated right there on their website that that's what they like. Very few UK agents only take query letters.)

Anyway, Jennifer answered the whole why agents don't need to say anything else on their rejections, but I did what I promised and found that blog entry as well which you may wish to check out by agent Jessica Faust (her blog is rather good, you may wish to just read other entries as well. You will also find many a kindred spirit in her recent blog entry last week where she allowed people to complain in the comments section about what they didn't like about agents). Anyway, here is that link I mentioned: http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/01/dissecting-form-rejection-letter.html

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 12:11 AM
T.P., of course you think all is rosy, since you got the representation. And I was unaware that Darley asks for three chapters up front when I first sent the query. And if my first chapters were that good, you really think I became a bad writer half-way through the book? As I said, I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt. You keep implying that there is no Catch 22 and the fault is all mine. Okay, put your money where your mouth is and give me the names of all these friendly agents you know about; the ones that all your successful author friends were able to find. To paraphrase what you keep saying in your defense of agents, my opinions aren't wrong. It's all in one's own perspective.

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 12:22 AM
You see ukwriter, you claim that you do all this research and work really hard, and that you deserve more than just a form rejection and yet you were unaware that Darley Anderson's website states under the heading "submissions" that they accept a one page synposis and first three chapters with a cover letter. You don't seem to be aware either, that that is the norm in the UK. Which leads me to wonder what else exactly you haven't researched or know little about.

And you're darn tooting I don't think there's a Catch 22, because if there was I wouldn't have representation. None of my friends would have representation. And actually no, I don't think I will give you their agents' contact information because it seems to me more and more that you aren't as well researched as you claim, nor as well studied either, and I'd rather not send such an author to these agents at present. To state that you can't imagine how an author could go bad halfway through a book just points to your ignorance. Some authors are awesome at beginnings, some are awesome at endings, some give great middle. But not all authors are good at all three. Why do you think an agent wants to read an entire manuscript before signing someone? Because often the very promising manuscript that was all brilliance, just utterly falls apart 100 pages in. Writing a complete novel that's good from beginning to end is darn hard.

(and if you did even a little of research you might learn who my friends are who are with these awesome agents, and then once you knew their names would be able to google who their agents are, but I have a funny feeling, considering how you feel about form rejections, that you like other people to do all the work for you)

waylander
04-07-2009, 12:31 AM
A website listing just about all the worthwhile UK agents
http://www.writersservices.com/agent/uk09/index.htm

A literary agency well-known for handling thrillers
http://www.gregoryandcompany.co.uk/

and another

http://www.marjacq.com/home/home.htm

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 02:10 AM
Have you ever looked at different web sites? Some don't give you all the info, just the address. But I digress. Since all of you think I'm way out of line for daring to suggest that agents could give us a bit more feedback than a "not for us" form letter, I'll try another example. Let's say your car is running rough and you take it to a mechanic. But when you ask him what's wrong, he replies "I'm way too busy to tell you anything, other than that it's running rough." So you ask, "Well, then what do you think it will take to fix it?", and he replies "I'm much too busy to give you any specifics, and you shouldn't expect me to give you any." So you ask, "Not even one little hint?" and the reply is the same. This is the equivalent of the way agents have been treating aspiring authors for years, and the sad thing is, all of you seem to be fine with it, bristling at anyone who dares suggest that the system could be better. Now before I'm told I'm way out of line again, yes, aspiring writers should take writing classes, do their research, study books on query writing, etc. But what if the aspiring writer does all that, gets rave reviews from his classmates and teachers, and still keeps being rejected? All of you seem to think that agents owe us no explanations at all, and everything is wonderful just as it is. Just keep tossing those softball questions to the agents. Someone has to play devil's advocate, instead of meekly accepting the status quo.

Bubastes
04-07-2009, 02:35 AM
Maybe a mod should take a bunch of these posts and put them into AW Roundtable?

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 02:49 AM
Not asking the agents to fix the MS. Merely asking for a hint every now and then. But this flock of sheep seems to think that's asking too much. If only part of this venom could be directed at the system, perhaps some changes for the better could be made.

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 03:09 AM
I've been listening, but no one is listening to me. Just because agents aren't required to tell us anything doesn't make it right. And doesn't this close-mouthed approach perpetuate a system of failure? The high rejection rate seems to indicate so. We've all seen agents' advice on how to succeed; tell a good story, have interesting characters, etc. We already know that. If agents could merely state more specifically what they're looking for, seems to me it would save them a lot of time mailing rejection forms. It's the equivalent of telling a waiter you want something good, then expecting him to read your mind as to what you're specifically wanting. (Now I'll be blasted for using another metaphor.) If everyone here feels that agents telling us absolutely nothing is a good system, then so be it.

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 06:32 AM
The high rejection rate is due to the fact that most submissions are crap. I've tried to explain to you why this is, how you ought to feel proud that you are not in that 95% and that that ought to give you confidence that someday you may just land an agent, but all you seem to see of me is some happy little blind author who is just another sheep too blind to see what's right in front of her. You deny facts as facts, calling them opinion, you defend your position of not having done research by saying "Have you ever looked at different web sites? Some don't give you all the info, just the address" which is utterly illogical because the Darley Anderson website DOES give you all the info. You simply did not do your research, but you want to excuse your behaviour still.

You insist that the customer/service provider relationship is the same as the author/agent relationship which it simply is not. Your waiter analogy, your mechanic analogy, they all come from a position of the customer being right, of the customer being owed something because you are paying the other person for that right. You do not pay an agent to critique your query. They don't owe you anything. Once you are in a client/agent relationship, then darn tooting they owe you stuff. To use your analogy it's like standing outside a restaurant window and yelling into it at one of the wait staff to bring you a glass of water. You think they're going to serve you? Not likely.

You are also jumping to a huge conclusion that just because people disagree (with evidence) with what you are saying, that that means they are poor sheep willing to put up with a failed system. First off you have yet to establish that the system is failed (well you do, but you do it by ignoring all the facts presented to you - "That's just your opinion", no . . . no, it's not), and second just because we disagree on the points you present does not mean we are blind to other issues.

I for example really hate exclusives. I think it is wrong for agents to ask for them. I also really hate agencies that say, "Well we aren't interested in representing you, but have you thought of self publishing?" and forward you onto a self publishing company. There you go, two things I think are wrong with some agents.

I just utterly and completely disagree that agents owe writers who submit to them anything. Did you read Jennifer's response? Did you read the link I provided for you? Even if you disagree, do you at least understand their point of view aside from it being, "Well they are evil and couldn't recognise good talent if it bit them in the you know what"? Do you have empathy?

You call us names, none of us have done the same for you. We have tried to answer over and over, and all you see is our attempts as mob mentality. But just because a lot of people are saying the same points, does not mean they are brainwashed. Sometimes it means that the points being made are facts that simply cannot be denied. The reason most everyone insists the sky is blue, is because the sky is blue. You saying that it's green and getting frustrated at those who insist otherwise, doesn't make you more right.

We have provided evidence, you have provided opinion. Take a moment. Take a breath and try to see what we are saying.

You are frustrated. I see that. And no I can't relate as well in the writing world, but I can as an actress, believe me. My acting career is not exactly taking off. I resent so many parts of the acting world I can't begin to tell you, but really, the one thing I have real control over is me. So I exercise so I'm in shape. I can control that. I take singing and stage combat lessons to broaden my skill set. I keep taking acting classes. I make myself the best I can be because that's what I have control over. And you'd better believe I get angry at casting directors who don't realise that actors can play more than just themselves, but at the same time I'm not about to expect anything from them. They don't owe me any roles in any films or plays.

I know you want to change everything. I know you wouldn't react badly if an agent gave you personal negative feedback, that you would be grateful. But hon you are the exception. You really truly are. And you should be proud you are the exception. As much as it frustrates you.

Control what you can. You simply will not change the industry by fretting this way. You won't. You can make suggestions when you speak with agents, but keeping at it when she has said she doesn't agree (as with Jennifer) isn't going to make her change her mind. Speak logically and coolly with the people who can affect real change. And in the meantime, work on your query. Please do your research. I know you're mad at me for harping on this, but the thing I LOVED about querying in the UK was that I got to send a whole submission package and not just a letter. Take advantage of this. It's a godsend. Take a moment to consider that Ipswitch wasn't the problem. Maybe your book is fine just as it is, but just for one day pretend that after those first few chapters everything does go downhill. Ask yourself how you could fix it. Just play make believe. Put your ego aside. You may just discover a few simple changes that could make all the difference in the world. Work on your query letter, post it here if you want. Vent in the "Rejection and Dejection" section here. Frustration can be blinding. It can make you hate the world. Don't encourage it. As someone who gets that way often herself, I know how damaging it can be. Soldier on.

And seriously, change your way of thinking about the slush pile. 95% of it is crap. It truly is. You are not in that 95%. The odds are so much more in your favour . . . here, please read this link (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html), it talks about the levels of crap that agents get, it will make you feel so much better about yourself.

It feels impossible at times. Again I do know this. And I know you look at my situation and think, "Well she can talk, she's all happy with her agent", but why can't you see me as a good sign. I had not a single connection in the industry. Not a single published work. Isn't that a good thing? Doesn't that suggest that maybe the situation isn't as hopeless as all that, that the system isn't entirely broken? A book of short stories won the top prize in Canadian literature last year. A book of short stories. One of the hardest things to sell. By a first time novelist. Isn't that fantastic? Isn't it fantastic that Tom Clancy and Mario Puzo were published eventually? Yes they were rejected by the system, and yet someone within that same system saw the good eventually. Doesn't that inspire hope that maybe it might take some time, but someone somewhere will clue in eventually? Art is so darn subjective, and yet still new exciting original stuff gets published every year. They might not be blockbusters, but that has nothing to do with the agent, that has to do with the readers.

I dunno. I guess after a while, cynicism is wearing. Hope isn't all evil you know. Once and a while, used in moderation, it's quite lovely.

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 06:55 AM
T.P., are you sure you're not an agent yourself? Your arrogant attitude would make you an ideal candidate. Because you've found an agent, then anyone who hasn't must not be up to snuff. And you completely ignored my main point. Why do you take such offense at my suggestion that agents could at least provide a word or two of advice in their rejection letters? Don't the high rejection rates tell you that the current system could stand some improvement? No, I guess they don't. You've found your agent, so no one can tell you anything. I even tried giving you the benefit of the doubt and asked for some names of agents, only to be met with more insults. Your "I know it all" attitude is what many of us are running into in our quest to become published, but I do appreciate your sympathetic ear. (Since sarcasm escapes you, as evidenced in my earlier Navy Seals reference, I guess I'd better tell you that part about sympathy was sarcasm.)

MacAllister
04-07-2009, 07:01 AM
I'm not an agent, and I don't play one on TV. But I HAVE been in the position of buying short stories for a pretty tiny and fairly insignificant SF ezine.

I can tell you, UK writer, that I went into it thinking, "this will be so cool! And since I'm a writer, too, I understand how frustrating the submission process is for other writers. I shall write encouraging notes, and point out how things can be made better, and..."

And I was dreaming. Quite honestly, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Also, my job was to acquire stories I thought readers would like--NOT, unfortunately perhaps, to help writers figure out what they were doing wrong. Neither is it an agent's job to help a writer they have no intention of buying improve their pitch or manuscript.

And with that, let me vehemently and enthusiastically recommend you go read Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html), right this minute. Even if you've read it before, read it again. I'll wait.

firedrake
04-07-2009, 07:02 AM
Do you honestly think, if you were an agent, that you would have time to personalise a few hundred rejection letters?

My feeling is that you're too easily offended and too enmeshed in an entitlement mentality to be in this business.

That's my tuppence worth.

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 07:05 AM
Sigh, okay ukwriter. I tried. I'm done. Good luck with your search, I really do think, considering you had a request for a partial from Darley Anderson that you will eventually find a home for your work. I do.

Since sincerity seems to escape you, you should know that above sentiment is entirely sincere. As was my entire attempt to give you a pep talk in my previous post (where I believe I complimented you many times).

MacAllister
04-07-2009, 07:11 AM
UKWriter, stop posting, right now, and go read the Newbie Guide. (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=66315) You don't talk to people like that, here.

If you can't stop yourself from behaving like a complete narcissistic pill, you need to be somewhere else entirely. Life is too short to ask anyone but maybe your mother to put up with your attitude.
Originally Posted by ukwriter

While I find this battle of wits with an unarmed man to be amusing, it is getting late over here. As for waiters or mechanics not relating to agents, I was using something called a metaphor, a device which also seems beyond your limited I.Q. Before continuing with this tomorrow, could you please answer one question. If I think it would be beneficial for agents to at least offer a word or two of advice in their rejection letters, why are you arguing so vehemently against it? Do you actually believe that the less agents tell us, the better off we are? I've never insisted that they give us a lengthy personal explanation, or anything near that. So, as we say over here, why are you getting your knickers in such a bunch? Signing off for now, but look forward to your words of wisdom on the morrow. (That was more sarcasm.)

Cyia
04-07-2009, 07:16 AM
T.P., are you sure you're not an agent yourself? Your arrogant attitude would make you an ideal candidate.

:Wha: :Wha: :Wha: :Wha: :Wha:


Because you've found an agent, then anyone who hasn't must not be up to snuff.

Good Lord. Are you actually, intentionally, trying not to read what TP has been telling you? (In a very detailed and polite manner).

If you're getting requests, then you've already beaten the curve, but 95% of what agents get isn't up to snuff period. Follow the link; it's very informative... especially the first point about people submitting who are functionally illiterate. There's no way things like that can be published for the commercial market.


And you completely ignored my main point. Why do you take such offense at my suggestion that agents could at least provide a word or two of advice in their rejection letters?

Um... not even close. No one has ignored your "point", in fact it's been addressed repeatedly.

1. Agents aren't required to. They owe you nothing. The act of putting 70,000 - 120,000 words on paper doesn't entitle you to special privlidges. When you submit to an agent, you basically enter a contest with all of the others seeking representation. You win or not; that's it.

2. Agents simply get too many submissions to respond to them all, much less with detailed information. Go with Nathan Bransford's estimate of 6000-7000 queries a year. That's on top of their actual clients who are entitled to their attention.

3. Agents who do try and give feedback get slammed by those who don't want to hear it. Spend a month doing something that consistently gets you cussed out because John Q. Writer doesn't want to hear that the market won't support a book that's a thin rehash of every other book in his genre, and you stop doing the something that gets you cussed out.

4. You're not seeking advice when you submit to an agent, so why should they provide a service you aren't looking for. You want representation - which is the only thing they have to offer you.


Don't the high rejection rates tell you that the current system could stand some improvement?

No, they say that 95% of the people who say they have a book in them never should have let it out. They either aren't ready to be published, or they aren't meant to be writers. Again, finishing a book doesn't obligate anyone to publish it. EVER. Anyone can run a footrace, but not everyone can run it in the Olympics.


No, I guess they don't. You've found your agent, so no one can tell you anything. I even tried giving you the benefit of the doubt and asked for some names of agents, only to be met with more insults. Your "I know it all" attitude is what many of us are running into in our quest to become published, but I do appreciate your sympathetic ear. (Since sarcasm escapes you, as evidenced in my earlier Navy Seals reference, I guess I'd better tell you that part about sympathy was sarcasm.)

You were given links to agencies in the UK, one in particular that repped your genre. You haven't received one single solitary insult from anyone on this board, at all. The mods even moved this to the round table so you could get more help.

What you did do was insult the agent whose thread you hijacked. Repeatedly. Even after she asked for it to stop. You have shown nothing here but an unwillingness to listen to those with the information to answer your questions because it's not what you want to hear.

This is a tough business, and rejection is part of it. You have to get used to that fact. And even once you get an agent (if you ever do), you still have to face rejection, and blunt criticism from editors and publishers.

You have been nothing but rude to those who have tried to help you and acted like a troll in this forum by consistantly antagonizing the others posting here.

(Now, where can I get some ice for this knot I've banged on my forehead?)

ETA: I see my post crossed with several others. Sorry.

Memnon624
04-07-2009, 07:33 AM
Why do you take such offense at my suggestion that agents could at least provide a word or two of advice in their rejection letters?

Because that's not their job (how's that for a brief and succinct answer?).


Don't the high rejection rates tell you that the current system could stand some improvement?

I used to read slush for an agent. The high rejection rate comes TOTALLY from the fact that 98% of submissions are crap -- apart from the quality of writing either the writer didn't follow submission guidelines, doesn't understand basic manuscript preparation, or submitted something in a genre the agent doesn't handle.

But, feel free to try and change the system. All windmills need their own Quixote . . .


ETA: I understand the desire to change a system you percieve as broken, I really do. But, even if you could effect change, that change has to come from within the industry itself. No amount of whining from unpublished writers will change a thing. So, for your crusade to work you're going to have to become part of the system first -- that means playing by the established rules and coming to the market with what amounts to your genre's equivalent of Harry Potter taken to the Nth degree. And even then, the chances of you influencing agents to change their wicked ways is somewhere around slim to none.

Broken or not, this is the system we have. Learn it. Accept its limitations -- and your own. Learn to create in a vacuum, if need be. Build a strong circle of critique partners so you won't need an agent to tell you where your submission has gone wrong.

Best,

Scott

ukwriter
04-07-2009, 10:52 AM
Mac, you're being insulting yourself. How is mine any worse? And if you'll go back through the thread where this discussion started, you'll see that I started out merely asking questions, and didn't become insulting until I was treated in that manner. Check out some of Toothpaste's comments to me. Things such as I don't know how to write a query, I'm too lazy to do proper research, I have a sense of entitlement, and on and on. Did you say anything to all the posters who lambasted me? Where were you when I was saying I'd give anyone the benefit of the doubt, and was met with more insults? Perhaps you should go ask your mother about your sense of fairness.

MacAllister
04-07-2009, 11:03 AM
I've read it all. People have answered your questions, over and over and over. You're not getting the answer you want to hear, though, so you've resorted to insulting those people. I gave you a lot of rope. Then you hung yourself with it.

Bye, ukwriter. Good luck.

fancie
04-07-2009, 11:48 AM
My Word! Is this for real?

MacAllister
04-07-2009, 11:53 AM
My Word! Is this for real?
'Fraid so.

fancie
04-07-2009, 11:56 AM
Well, I don't want to get in the middle of it, but I don't see how agents can be expected to give everyone who sends a query advise. imho

qwerty
04-07-2009, 12:08 PM
PLEASE, folks, don't judge other UK writers based on this http://smileys.on-my-web.com/repository/Confused/sorry-20.GIF

Why am I imagining an agent asking for revisions and being argued with?

TP, I applaud your patience and stamina.

Old Hack
04-07-2009, 12:25 PM
And just in case people are still wondering why agents and editors don't give detailed responses to most submissions, agent Ginger Clark writes (http://gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com/2009/04/agentfail-response-from-non-failing.html),


When I first started officially welcoming emailed queries (in late 2006) I would reply to all of them. When I rejected one, I would say, “Thank you, but this is not for me. Best, Ginger Clark” or something like that. I did that for about four months. Then I stopped—because I got sick of receiving rude responses. Email makes it so easy for someone to reply, “Well, screw you.” Which people did. Repeatedly.

Here's what happened to me (http://howpublishingreallyworks.blogspot.com/2009/03/writers-should-know-better.html) recently when a writer refused to listen to my advice; and here's an earlier post of mine (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3035462&postcount=224) on this very message board in which I wrote,


Creepiest of all inappropriate actions by a writer, though, was the one who sent me photos of me arriving for work in the mornings, and going out to get my lunch from Bumblebees. The photos came with notes asking how I'd enjoyed my potato salad, that sort of thing. That taught me to not send personalised rejections--which was what had set the writer off in the first place (and no, I didn't take his book on either).

Of course writers would prefer to know why their work got rejected. But not all of them really want to hear it--which is a whole 'nother discussion.

Dollywagon
04-07-2009, 12:36 PM
I haven't read all the posts on here, but have seen the OP now has the 'B,' word below her name ... still ... I'm in the UK and I sub to Children's agents and publishers and would like to say a small word in their defence.

I've had standard rejection letters back and I've also had rejection letters with scribbled, encouraging, notes on them. Once, I even had a whole letter typed especially for me!!!!
So, no, my experience of UK agents is that quite a lot can be very encouraging, but I still need to be aware that for whatever reason, my work isn't right for them. To get an acceptance I need to get my work right and subbed to the right place - my responsibility, not the agent's.

Maybe a whole letter stating exactly why they didn't want it would be preferable, but would you really want to read, "Can't spell, can't structure, plot weak, characters thin - Overall a very poor attempt." Really?
Because to be honest, if in a perfect world agents did actually have the time for this, I think that's the response many submissions would get.

As for them not being friendly - well, I hadn't subbed anything (rhyming text) to an agent for over a year. I sent a novel ms the other week and got a rejection slip back a few days ago. On it was written, Hi, 'nice to hear from you again, but not for us.'
Hmm, so they are friendly, they DO remember you (for whatever reason)
but at the end of the day you have to remember that your work is only personal to you, to the rest of the industry it is a business and you can't really expect them to treat it as anything other. Agents aren't your personal mentors.

flyingtart
04-07-2009, 01:08 PM
Ironic really. UKWriter asked the question 'why don't agents give feedback?' yet his/her subsequent behaviour on this thread has answered the question perfectly. Who's got time to argue with a jackass?

Bubastes
04-07-2009, 03:04 PM
Ironic really. UKWriter asked the question 'why don't agents give feedback?' yet his/her subsequent behaviour on this thread has answered the question perfectly. Who's got time to argue with a jackass?

You beat me to it. Exhibit A on why agents don't give feedback is right in this thread.

cletus
04-07-2009, 03:38 PM
I sent a query to Darley Anderson, the biggest agency in London, and received a reply that they loved it and wanted to see some sample chapters. I got another reply saying they loved the sample and wanted the manuscript. Believing I was near representation, I called them to inform them of one small detail. I'd been visiting my daughter in London and had mailed my material from her address. I actually was from Ipswich. The voice on the phone went from enthusiasm to sounding as if I'd informed them of a death in the family. I ended up getting a rambling excuse stating that while the novel was brilliant, they couldn't be sure it would sell enough copies. It could have been true, but I can't believe the quality of my writing suddenly went downhill after the first few chapters that they liked so well.

I get the feeling if ukwriter paid any attention to the "rambling excuse" she'd know exactly why her book was rejected.

Or it could be Darley Anderson doesn't like people from Ipswich that pretend they're from London?:crazy:

scarletpeaches
04-07-2009, 03:57 PM
I think the "believing I was near representation" had a lot to do with it, and the "called them to inform them of one small detail".

First of all - and I know ukwriter is no longer with us; I'm just putting my opinion out there - being asked for a manuscript does not mean you're near representation. It means you're near to getting a reading.

Secondly - calling them up? In other words, disturbing them when it's standard to communicate by email or snail mail? I wonder how that conversation went. I think Darley Anderson would have thought ukwriter was being presumptuous as well as having displayed dishonesty in the past.

Mr Flibble
04-07-2009, 04:19 PM
Actually I've rung a couple of UK agents ( hey, when I first started querying as a noob, the Writer's Yearbook didn't list a website or sub guidelines for those agencies) so I rang to ask re submission guidelines etc. They were most friendly. In fact I had quite a long chat with one agent about my book. And both of those agencies were among the ones who did give me personalised rejections.


I can only assume Ukwriter was as charming on the phone as on this forum. :D

selkn.asrai
04-07-2009, 05:01 PM
I want to know what logic there is in an agent writing personal feedback for every submission, in order to save time...

Momento Mori
04-07-2009, 06:03 PM
ukwriter:
I sent a query to Darley Anderson, the biggest agency in London, and received a reply that they loved it and wanted to see some sample chapters. I got another reply saying they loved the sample and wanted the manuscript. Believing I was near representation, I called them to inform them of one small detail. I'd been visiting my daughter in London and had mailed my material from her address. I actually was from Ipswich. The voice on the phone went from enthusiasm to sounding as if I'd informed them of a death in the family. I ended up getting a rambling excuse stating that while the novel was brilliant, they couldn't be sure it would sell enough copies. It could have been true, but I can't believe the quality of my writing suddenly went downhill after the first few chapters that they liked so well.

I've got some sympathy with ukwriter for giving DA a phone call if (for whatever reason) they'd put the wrong contact details on the full manuscript and just wanted to make sure DA knew the correct ones. I know we all say to check and re-check but mistakes happen and although the agency might have an eye-roll about it, it's not an automatic grounds for rejection, especially if the manuscript is good.

However, I am having difficulty in understanding why anyone would go from being told that a writer was from Ipswich to suggesting that the manuscript might not sell enough copies unless ukwriter decided to push the envelope a bit and try and see how close DA were to deciding whether to sign them. I could see that being pushy in that situation would easily give an agent pause as to whether to go forward with that writer, especially if ukwriter decided to take the same tone that they appear to have taken on this thread.

Incidentally, I should confess that I now have this image stuck in my head of ukwriter's telephone call to DA finishing with ukwriter asking "Is it because I is from Ipswich?" (in the comedic style of Ali G).

MM

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 06:08 PM
Actually Scarlet, the calling up agents thing seems to be a pet peeve in North American, not the UK. I for example called up just that agency after they had my full 2 months just for a status update. Got a lovely response, and it didn't seem to hurt me any. In fact when I was doing my agent search, when an agency didn't specify to whom I should address my query, I called up the agency and asked very briefly that question. I was always met with kindness, and in fact once put through to the agent himself, where it was revealed that he didn't rep my genre but we actually had a nice laugh about it.

So it's a bit different in the UK. I think what got to me most about ukwriter was that it appeared he/she didn't know you could send out packages to agents from the off. This is what I meant with a lack of research, and to point out such a thing is hardly an insult. It's a fact. ukwriter did not do the research, had he/she done so he/she would have easily found the information on the DA website. I also find it sad that ukwriter thinks I think he/she can't write a query letter and that somehow (even if I thought that way), that that too is a personal affront. Usually when I suggest someone post their letter in the SYW query section they appreciate the suggestion. I also don't see how saying that ukwriter might not be able to write such a letter is insulting, many authors struggle with the query letter as it is not what we are used to writing. I was also asked by ukwriter to provide a list of agents that I deemed worthy, which I suppose is flattering, but considering DA would be on the top of the list, I'm sure ukwriter would not have appreciated it. That and pointing to the fact that maybe the reason he/she was rejected wasn't because he/she lived in Ipswich but rather that maybe there was something in the MS itself, leads me to believe that is what he/she meant by saying I thought he/she had a sense of entitlement. The irony is that when I submitted my work to DA I was asked to do a great deal of revision myself. To tell someone that maybe their MS needs more work, is yet another fact, not a judgment, and happens to most every author.

I feel sorry for ukwriter. That he/she was able to read my rather long post from last night as one big insult speaks more for him/her than anything else. It was full of encouragement, what's more I truly do believe that if he/she got a request from DA that it will happen again from another agent, ultimately landing him/her an agent. But ukwriter's inability to take suggestion as simply that, a suggestion, and not as a personal attack will unfortunately hold him/her back.

scarletpeaches
04-07-2009, 06:14 PM
Yes, Toothpaste...I suspect in this instance it could have been tone rather than the actual fact of a phone call.

And Momento Mori? I don't believe for one minute ukwriter accidentally put the wrong return address on his correspondence. Perhaps - don't know for sure - but his prospective agent might have thought he was being put to the test and that would have made ukwriter appear a handful.

Bubastes
04-07-2009, 06:18 PM
Considering that ukwriter also tried to test agents by sending a query lifted from a writing how-to book, I wouldn't be surprised.

What a shame. If ukwriter does have a good book, it's too bad that it might be killed through lack of professionalism.

Momento Mori
04-07-2009, 06:33 PM
scarletpeaches:
I don't believe for one minute ukwriter accidentally put the wrong return address on his correspondence. Perhaps - don't know for sure - but his prospective agent might have thought he was being put to the test and that would have made ukwriter appear a handful.

Nah - me neither. But I figured I'd try and give them the benefit of the doubt what with their being from Ipswich and everything ... :)

MM

(Who wishes to make it clear that other people from Ipswich are lovely, rational and sane folk with a great sense of humour and loads of writing talent. In fact, some of MM's best friends are from Ipswich and the surrounding area. Go tractor boys!)

qwerty
04-07-2009, 07:12 PM
Holds hand up - I'm from Ipswich.


But ukwriter's inability to take suggestion as simply that, a suggestion, and not as a personal attack will unfortunately hold him/her back.

Which is precisely why I have a worry about he/she being asked to make suggested alterations to a ms, which is what a good agent is likely to want. Not just to improve the material for a better chance of publication, but I believe also to find out if an author is willing to take criticism and/or suggestions and be able to work with an editor.

Old Hack
04-07-2009, 07:17 PM
I feel sorry for ukwriter. That he/she was able to read my rather long post from last night as one big insult speaks more for him/her than anything else. It was full of encouragement, what's more I truly do believe that if he/she got a request from DA that it will happen again from another agent, ultimately landing him/her an agent. But ukwriter's inability to take suggestion as simply that, a suggestion, and not as a personal attack will unfortunately hold him/her back.

Toothpaste, just so you know, when I read your long post I was amazed that you had written such an encouraging message to such a nitwit. It was very generous of you, and very kind. And you were right on every point you made. Reppies are coming to you, once again.

As for Ipswich, well: I hear it's lovely, but there's not a single publishable writer in the whole county. They're all dreadful, verging on the illiterate. It's a well-known rule in the UK publishing business: NEVER sign anyone from Ipswich.

(Now I'm going to run away from qwerty VERY QUICKLY, and hope she doesn't have her running shoes on.)

eveningstar
04-07-2009, 07:27 PM
Just one more thing. I've read everything imaginable about writing query letters, and one time I conducted an experiment. I took a sample letter from a book on writing query letters (several agents had raved about how brilliant it was) put my name on it, and sent it off to several big agencies. Guess what? Form rejections with no requests for material. Yeah, it was cheating, but it told me something about the system I was dealing with.

I noticed this particular post hasn't been mentioned much, but I felt the need to wonder aloud what the heck ukwriter planned on doing if this copied sample query led to a request. Reply with "ha ha fooled you!"? Seriously?

I'm a relative newbie myself, not even at querying stage yet with my WIP, but I've done my research. I have files on each agent I'm planning on querying with submission guidelines and details. I know perfectly well that agents do not have enough time in the day to give personalized rejections to each and every query.

And I only started seriously learning this industry a year ago, really. Maybe it's not a perfect system but it's not that difficult to comprehend.

waylander
04-07-2009, 07:27 PM
Qwerty is OK now - she doesn't live there anymore

Dollywagon
04-07-2009, 07:31 PM
... don't Darley Anderson have an office in Rye?

I'm not saying it's near Ipswich, but they do 'think' outside of London.

... and anyway the metaphor was no good because mechanics charge a fee and agents don't. Just a thought.

CaoPaux
04-07-2009, 07:38 PM
I noticed this particular post hasn't been mentioned much, but I felt the need to wonder aloud what the heck ukwriter planned on doing if this copied sample query led to a request. Reply with "ha ha fooled you!"? Seriously? There's also the not-so-fine point that it's more'n likely the agents in question recognized the query as being the one in the how-to-query book agents raved about.... :rolleyes:

qwerty
04-07-2009, 07:41 PM
Now let's have some respect here for a Suffolk gal. Not to take eveningstar's name in vain, but I have been published by the Ipswich Evening Star - so keep a runnin, OH, else I'll beat you over the head with a copy of the East Anglian Daily Times.

Us's brains dunt hev nuthin ter doo with the way we tawk in Suffick.

Jennifer_Laughran
04-07-2009, 07:55 PM
It's a well-known rule in the UK publishing business: NEVER sign anyone from Ipswich.

Haha. This is my new gmail status message.

Thanks for taking this person off my thread, Macallister, and kudos to everyone who responded with a cool head. I was seriously about to reach through the computer and do some throttling.

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 09:30 PM
It's a well-known rule in the UK publishing business: NEVER sign anyone from Ipswich.


Or as Ms. Austen would put it: "It is a truth universally acknowledged in the publishing industry that one must never sign an author from Ipswich."

KikiteNeko
04-07-2009, 09:36 PM
Okay, people. I'll give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Providing that they handle material in the suspense/thriller genre, kindly give me the names of these agents who are so friendly to new writers and I'll give them a try. And just so you know that I'm not one of the masses who can't even write a query letter, let alone a novel, I'll relate one more experience which has shaped my opinions. I sent a query to Darley Anderson, the biggest agency in London, and received a reply that they loved it and wanted to see some sample chapters. I got another reply saying they loved the sample and wanted the manuscript. Believing I was near representation, I called them to inform them of one small detail. I'd been visiting my daughter in London and had mailed my material from her address. I actually was from Ipswich. The voice on the phone went from enthusiasm to sounding as if I'd informed them of a death in the family. I ended up getting a rambling excuse stating that while the novel was brilliant, they couldn't be sure it would sell enough copies. It could have been true, but I can't believe the quality of my writing suddenly went downhill after the first few chapters that they liked so well. Just FYI, and I'll await those agents names.

UK I really hate to be the one to break this to you, but just because an agent thinks your writing is brilliant and requests the full does not mean you will get representation from them. Do you think a full request makes you a rare exception? I had seven or eight agents request my full and rave about my writing, but ultimately not offer representation. This is incredibly standard. I have also yet to hear of an agent who discriminates based on location.

I could give you a list of agents who have provided me with helpful feedback, hell, I could give you the name of MY agent whom I adore. And FYI I was unpublished, 23 years old and fresh out of school when I got my agent. And no I didn't have to sleep with anyone at the agency. I was a stranger, querying a stranger. But my experience wouldn't necessarily be your experience. It may be your query isn't strong enough, or it may be your writing isn't strong enough, or it may be your incredibly rotten 'tude. Agents do not owe you any sort of explanation. Rejection is a part of life. You can bitch on the internet some more or you can improve.

Nateskate
04-07-2009, 10:11 PM
I didn't read every thread, but this is interesting. There are great writers that need to find the right fit, the right publisher. Then there are writers that delude themselves about how good they are. They're a varient of that guy on a sitcom that never gets the date.

"Women just don't like great guys. They always want the bad guy... Maybe I'm just too good and I intimidate women. I'm too handsome and too smart."

Never was a problem for Johnny Depp.

In essense they spare their own ego by suggesting it's always everybody else who's at fault.

It's never their bad breath, or their personality disorders, or the fact that they're forty and mom still makes their beds. It has to be "These women" are too stupid to know the perfect catch when it jumps in their laps.

Obviously there are differences, but agents aren't so foolish that they're passing over these great novels on purpose. They're over worked and have way too much to sort through to waste any time on things that don't grab them right away. It's a shame. A great novel can get overlooked because of a faulty query letter.

In some ways, there's no wiggle room for the writer. We have to hit on all cylinders to get published.

Can people get missed? Yes. Would it be better if agents spent more time sorting through and giving a book a better chance? It would lead to some more published works. The odds would increase. However, the agent's world is one where they're not being paid to be nice and gentle, but to find a can't-lose novel.

All the writers here make the same suggestions, perfect your novel and then perfect your query letter. Learn, grow, and keep at it. The state of publishing isn't going to change, so we have to work with the system we're given.

Cyia
04-07-2009, 10:20 PM
All the writers here make the same suggestions, perfect your novel and then perfect your query letter. Learn, grow, and keep at it. The state of publishing isn't going to change, so we have to work with the system we're given.

That, and move to London :D

waylander
04-07-2009, 10:32 PM
And disguise your accent

eveningstar
04-07-2009, 10:42 PM
Now let's have some respect here for a Suffolk gal. Not to take eveningstar's name in vain, but I have been published by the Ipswich Evening Star - so keep a runnin, OH, else I'll beat you over the head with a copy of the East Anglian Daily Times.

Us's brains dunt hev nuthin ter doo with the way we tawk in Suffick.

Hee! I'm sure it's a fine, upstanding publication with a name like that.

I live somewhat close to Ipswich, Massachusetts. I wonder if it carries the same stigma?

Toothpaste
04-07-2009, 10:59 PM
On the off chance that ukwriter is still reading this thread, I found another great blog entry by an agent about why full manuscripts are requested and needed before an agent can make any kind of offer. Here is a quote that sums up what many of us have already said on this thread:

"But for debut authors, why do agents need fulls?

For one very basic reason, I’ve read several requested full manuscripts that were excellent for about 150 pages and then went totally south."

Check out the full post here: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-agents-need-full-manuscripts.html

seun
04-07-2009, 11:49 PM
Ipswich? Well, could be worse. coughnorwichcough.

Cyia
04-07-2009, 11:59 PM
On the off chance that ukwriter is still reading this thread, I found another great blog entry by an agent about why full manuscripts are requested and needed before an agent can make any kind of offer. Here is a quote that sums up what many of us have already said on this thread:

"But for debut authors, why do agents need fulls?

For one very basic reason, Iíve read several requested full manuscripts that were excellent for about 150 pages and then went totally south."

Check out the full post here: http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2009/03/why-agents-need-full-manuscripts.html

The sad thing about this is that IF ukwriter is still reading this, he/she's probably still sitting there thinking everyone's just incapable of dealing with the logic set forth in the first post. UK, I hope you do eventually take the time to read the links presented and listen to the advice and answers given, otherwise you've got a long uphill road of people being "rude" to you yet to come.

scarletpeaches
04-08-2009, 12:45 AM
Or as Ms. Austen would put it: "It is a truth universally acknowledged in the publishing industry that one must never sign an author from Ipswich."

Happy writers are all alike but unhappy writers are probably from Ipswich.
-L. Tolstoy

eyeblink
04-08-2009, 02:00 AM
Jon George (British SF writer) is from Ipswich and is published by Tor UK. So it can be done!

(No particular vested interest here, but I have met him a couple of times.)

KikiteNeko
04-08-2009, 02:07 AM
Happy writers are all alike but unhappy writers are probably from Ipswich.
-L. Tolstoy

Happy writers be creatures of myth.

stonehenge
04-08-2009, 02:20 AM
Greetings, all. New fellow here, also from the UK. And while browsing, of course a thread titled "uk agents" caught my eye. Seems there was some heated discussion here earlier concerning a fellow Brit. While I'd like to join in, I don't know enough of what's gone on to offer an opinion. Perhaps after a bit of further reading. Sounds like it might be fun. Later, mates.

Nateskate
04-08-2009, 03:08 AM
That, and move to London :D

Lol. That could work. I'd rather be unpublished in London than in the U.S. It just sounds so much better.

MacAllister
04-08-2009, 10:42 AM
Hi Stonehenge -
You're right: You either missed or ignored a bunch of the backstory, and read what was actually here very poorly indeed. You've completely dismissed several courteous and kind posts from the members here, given ukwriter a total pass for being a rude boor, and demonstrated that you've no ear at all for conversational tone.

Nice, how you completely and conveniently ignore that ukwriter happened onto a thread specifically for asking questions of one, specific (American) agent and attempted to monopolize the conversation with ever-escalating weirdness. Also nice how you, not unlike ukwriter, manage to ignore the fact that his or her questions were addressed completely and courteously, again and again -- which only led to an increased level of hostility and aggression--accusing people of arrogance and/or stupidity for having the temerity to disagree with ukwriter's brilliant, brilliant! ideas regarding What's Wrong With the Publishing Industry, never mind it's the same line of whinging we've all heard before for the Umpty-Eleventh Time--in the thread because they weren't the answers ukwriter wanted to hear.

And frankly, I'm highly dubious of your claims to have happened onto this thread by accident, for your very first post on this board. Wow.

Bullshit. In fact, I'll save us both some time, and say point blank that I think you're a liar. I think you very well knew where this thread was, and very well knew ukwriter had gotten banned. I think it's no coincidence that you both demonstrate the exact same appalling lack of reading comprehension, in fact.

Now, I'll recommend the newbie guide yet again. And if you're truly interested in writing, and being part of a community of writers, editors, and agents, and can manage to behave with a reasonable level of civility towards the people here, great, and welcome.

This is a pretty dubious beginning, however.

Nateskate
04-08-2009, 08:31 PM
And disguise your accent

I want an accent; really. All variations of British are my favs, next to Hobbit of course, which isn't that far off.

Priene
04-08-2009, 08:43 PM
Ipswich? Well, could be worse. coughnorwichcough.

Now that's fighting talk.

qwerty
04-08-2009, 09:06 PM
Hev yew got a loyt booh?

Sorry, sorry - it's Nateskate's fault, he wanted accent.

Priene
04-08-2009, 10:08 PM
Hev yew got a loyt booh?

Sorry, sorry - it's Nateskate's fault, he wanted accent.

Nah, dahnt you Ipswichers all sahnd lahk cockerneys, mayte?

seun
04-08-2009, 10:25 PM
Hev yew got a loyt booh?


I understood that immediately. Now I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

stonehenge
04-08-2009, 10:25 PM
Mac, you're like the child who turns over the checkerboard when he's losing. Ukwriter didn't get rude until all of you did, and you know it. And your referring to his mother in your response was appalling. I quoted more than enough examples to show that uk was insulted and called names, by you included, and you ignored it. You're an ignorant asshole, who can't stand hearing opinions different than his own. And was uk arguing by himself on that first thread? How unusual. You're the liar, and as we say here in jolly old England, you can stick this entire website up your arse.

seun
04-08-2009, 10:25 PM
Mac, you're like the child who turns over the checkerboard when he's losing. Ukwriter didn't get rude until all of you did, and you know it. And your referring to his mother in your response was appalling. I quoted more than enough examples to show that uk was insulted and called names, by you included, and you ignored it. You're an ignorant asshole, who can't stand hearing opinions different than his own. And was uk arguing by himself on that first thread? How unusual. You're the liar, as as we say here in jolly old England, you can stick this entire website up your arse.

Bye.

Dollywagon
04-08-2009, 11:03 PM
It's not just me that feels really, really sorry for the person who answered the phone at Darley Anderson, is it???

Bubastes
04-08-2009, 11:11 PM
It's not just me that feels really, really sorry for the person who answered the phone at Darley Anderson, is it???

Nope. The scary part is that there are more people out there like this. Agents earn every penny they make, I tell ya. I couldn't do it. I'd want to strangle someone after about an hour.

williemeikle
04-08-2009, 11:18 PM
Mac, you're like the child who turns over the checkerboard when he's losing. Ukwriter didn't get rude until all of you did, and you know it. And your referring to his mother in your response was appalling. I quoted more than enough examples to show that uk was insulted and called names, by you included, and you ignored it. You're an ignorant asshole, who can't stand hearing opinions different than his own. And was uk arguing by himself on that first thread? How unusual. You're the liar, and as we say here in jolly old England, you can stick this entire website up your arse.

As we say here in Jolly Old Scotland... learn tae read ya bampot.

scarletpeaches
04-08-2009, 11:19 PM
Is it just me or does anyone else smell a bannination brewing?

Dollywagon
04-08-2009, 11:23 PM
No, don't ban her - it's highly entertaining.
Besides which I've had a thought. I actually think she could make a fortune as a forum booster! Seriously, these type of threads get more hits than anything.
Go in, ask a question, then start rowing with everybody and the hits keep on coming. Forget all this 'nice and polite' rubbish, it's not where the dosh is.

She'd be one of the best in the business.

I'm a genius. She gets to write and earns a fortune in the process!

MacAllister
04-08-2009, 11:37 PM
Heh. Except tone-deaf narcissists are a dime a dozen.

Mr Flibble
04-08-2009, 11:37 PM
As we also say in Jolly Old England

Take yer head outta ya arse mate, it'll improve your reading skills if your eyes can see daylight


Tsk, tsk those naughty agents, why oh why have these agents not snatched up this genius? Is it because he's a numpty? Or because he's a very rude numpty that think the world owes it to him to recognise his towering intellect and scintilating prose? I shall be pondering this all night.

Cyia
04-09-2009, 12:10 AM
Awee, I missed troll-feeding time? *cries*

Momento Mori
04-09-2009, 12:51 PM
stonehenge:
Mac, you're like the child who turns over the checkerboard when he's losing.

The irony, it burns!

MM