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MacAllister
04-09-2009, 04:37 AM
There's a brief list of links (http://absolutewrite.com/#April%208,%202009), here, in case you guys didn't follow this. Be sure not to miss our own very favorite Lunatic Agent (and I mean that in the nicest possible way) Nathan Bransford's Agent-For-A-Day (http://nathanbransford.blogspot.com/2009/04/announcing-be-agent-for-day-contest.html) blog contest. (Nathan abstained from queryfail, btw.)

So what do you think? Mean? Helpful? Scary? Snarky good fun? Other?

There are a lot of very hardworking agents getting roundly castigated over having participated in queryfail on Twitter last month -- and having received more than a little hatemail myself, I feel pretty bad for these people who, I do believe, were trying to have a little fun and at the same time be educational by letting writers in on what going through query-slush looks like, but may have (inadvertently or otherwise) stepped over a line of sensitivity and respect.

(Whew. That last was a really long sentence.)

Sirion
04-09-2009, 04:59 AM
I think the difference between the two is night and day.

Queryfail is a humorous, but helpful, thing that some agents set up to show off some bad queries for others to see (and, yes, get a laugh in). As long as they keep the writer's name and the work's name a secret, then I think it's fine and a very helpful service.

This "Agentfail" that came after it just seems to attack agents for trivial things ("Oh no, I got an un-personalized rejection!"). As Nathan Bransford pointed out, much of it is vindictive nonsense.

One helps, the other is mostly just venting anger.

-Travis

Cranky
04-09-2009, 05:02 AM
I thought Agentfail was embarrassing to read.

Really? People are seriously griping about agents using Twitter or Facebook or blogging? I don't understand that. Thanks to agents who are willing to do those things, I've learned a ton about the industry in a very short amount of time. I'm grateful they take the time to blog about that stuff. I find things like #queryfail, liveblogging queries, and other query deconstruction stuff to be very helpful.

And bottom line, agents have a duty to their clients before they do people querying them, and they DO have lives.

Whew. Feels better to get that out...

Esopha
04-09-2009, 05:36 AM
I honestly found both distasteful for a myriad of reasons, including the reactions to both queryfail and agentfail from both writers and agents. The thing that bothered me the most was the fact that it's now apparently acceptable to use lolspeak in conjunction with an otherwise professional exchange of information.

Blaaaaaaah.

Matera the Mad
04-09-2009, 05:42 AM
Some people just can't spell... (agent? angel? anger?)

Kathleen42
04-09-2009, 05:48 AM
I missed most of queryfail so I can't coment much on that but I do find the complaint about agents tweeting or blogging to be, well, somewhat ridiculous.

I don't write for a living, but I do peek in on AbsoluteWrite a few times a day (lunch hours and coffee breaks only, because I'm a good little cubicle drone). How is that any different than an agent using twitter.

Some of the agents at the top of my "must query" list got those spots BECAUSE of their blogs. I enjoyed their thoughts and comments and felt that they were people with whom I would like to work. I also learned from reading their blogs an checking in on their twitter accounts.

mscelina
04-09-2009, 06:02 AM
The people that don't see how helpful queryfail was are unlikely to be the sort of writer that takes criticism well anyway, to be quite blunt about it. If my query is what's keeping my writing from selling, then I darn sure want to know about it. I don't care if someone clubs me over the head with a branding iron that reads "NO!!!!!!!" it's better for me professionally to know [a] the query isn't working and [b] why it's not working.

As for agentfail, well, to be perfectly frank to diss the very people you're trying to impress is kind of like suing a company you want to work for before you even interview for the job. While I have no objection to people committing professional suicide and as a result getting out of my way in the slushpile, I can't help but feel that as writers it behooves us to be aware that any and all words we toss out onto the internet can and most probably will come back to bite us in the butt. *shrug* I'm not fond of shooting fish in a barrel, but hey--if they put the guns in their own mouths and pull the trigger I'm certainly not going to be complaining when I bread them and drop them in the fryer am I?

Claudia Gray
04-09-2009, 07:06 AM
Neither one bothered me much. The agents were trying to teach; the writers were -- mostly by their own admission -- only venting. I don't think the people outraged about either are using their time and energy very well.

Smish
04-09-2009, 07:11 AM
Neither one bothered me much. The agents were trying to teach; the writers were -- mostly by their own admission -- only venting. I don't think the people outraged about either are using their time and energy very well.

Yep. My thoughts exactly. I do think the backlash of both has been very sad, though.

I think it just goes to show that writers and agents alike tend to be passionate (and sometimes overly-sensitive...) about their work.

mlhernandez
04-09-2009, 07:30 AM
I avoided queryfail because it seemed sort of pointless. The writers who need an intervention like queryfail aren't the sort of writers who are plugged into agent blogs, AW or other helpful writerly sites. I only briefly looked at the agentfail thread on the Bookends blog (one of my absolute faves.) There were definitely some valid complaints on the agentfail thread and some wtf ranty moments.

Judg
04-09-2009, 07:47 AM
I don't know. I personally thought queryfail was both hilarious and educational. Maybe I'd feel differently if it had been my query getting skewered. I know they didn't name names, but it still would have been excruciating.

Maybe one of the reasons I rather liked it was because it was reassuring to know I wasn't doing anything that dumb. And I don't see how it was all that different than reading Miss Snark, for example.

I am very grateful to agents who blog and educate. Because I came across them a couple of years before I started querying, there are a whole ton of mistakes I never made.

As I am grateful to Absolute Write. Seriously, you guys are going in my acknowledgement section. So many things I know I absorbed bit by bit around here, and it meant I launched into the querying process feeling well-informed and half-way professional.

Cranky
04-09-2009, 07:50 AM
I don't know. I personally thought queryfail was both hilarious and educational. Maybe I'd feel differently if it had been my query getting skewered. I know they didn't name names, but it still would have been excruciating.

Maybe one of the reasons I rather liked it was because it was reassuring to know I wasn't doing anything that dumb. And I don't see how it was all that different than reading Miss Snark, for example.

I am very grateful to agents who blog and educate. Because I came across them a couple of years before I started querying, there are a whole ton of mistakes I never made.

As I am grateful to Absolute Write. Seriously, you guys are going in my acknowledgement section. So many things I know I absorbed bit by bit around here, and it meant I launched into the querying process feeling well-informed and half-way professional.

Amen to that, Judg. :)

SPMiller
04-09-2009, 07:53 AM
And I don't see how it was all that different than reading Miss Snark, for example.I do. Writers voluntarily submitted their work to the Snarkster. Not so with queryfail.

That said, this has not been an uncommon practice at f/sf conventions. I'm confused why anyone was surprised to see it go down in public. I suppose fewer people are really part of the culture than I thought.

Aside from the unjustifiably angry posts in agentfail, there were a few good complaints repeated there. Just as writers learn from agents, agents will learn from the more level-headed agentfail posts.

I call it a wash. Let's move on.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 09:50 AM
I don't know. Frankly, I thought that queryfail was utterly unprofessional and tasteless (and at least some agents agreed). That some of the same people who found queryfail hilarious were the ones wringing their hands at the "bitterness" and "vitriol" of agentfail is, well, an interesting way of showing a selective sense of humor. And in the case of Miss Snark, didn't people agree to let her critique their submissions?

There's too much "gotcha" on the Internet as it is, IMO.

aadams73
04-09-2009, 12:57 PM
Amen to that, Judg. :)

Yup, what they said. :)

WendyNYC
04-09-2009, 03:34 PM
I avoided queryfail because it seemed sort of pointless. The writers who need an intervention like queryfail aren't the sort of writers who are plugged into agent blogs, AW or other helpful writerly sites.

At least one person was recognized, though, from a query that had been posted here, in SYW.

Wayne K
04-09-2009, 04:05 PM
I have no idea what you people are talking about, but I thought the last sentence was masterful Mac.

Mr Flibble
04-09-2009, 04:25 PM
I thought they both had good points to make - but they got lost among the people who went overboard.

It was nice to see the weirdness that agents have to put up with. But the snark was not necessary and was bound to raise hackles.

Agent fail also had some good points ( ie, writers would like as much politeness and professional courtesy as agents demand) but it got lost in vitriol.

But of course - the writers who were being snarked at probably never heard of queryfail. And the agents who were being complained about probably never read agentfail.

Both sides complained about specific incidents, and weren't judging a whole group by that. I think that got kinda lost, both among the writers and the agents who got upset.

Ken
04-09-2009, 04:41 PM
... haven't perused either.
But as to the later one, I think it is stupid.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, STUPID!!!
All agents are marvelous! and wonderful! and fault-free!
(This should be sure to get me on their good side :-)

Bubastes
04-09-2009, 04:51 PM
I don't think the people outraged about either are using their time and energy very well.

Ditto. That energy could be better spent on, oh, I don't know, improving their queries and WIPs. Much ado about nothing, IMO.

HapiSofi
04-09-2009, 05:34 PM
I think Queryfail would have been better if all the queries had at minimum been rephrased to avoid direct quotation. Aside from that, I thought it was very educational. It gave writers access to information they normally wouldn't see. This author (http://taralazar.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/queryfail/), for example, made good use of it.

The other useful aspect was that we got to hear real agents exchanging remarks with each other. There's a world of shared assumptions and experience bound up in that. Who has ears to hear it, let them hear.

I was considerably less impressed by Agentfail.

Bartholomew
04-09-2009, 05:50 PM
AgentFail is a BlogFail combined with a TwitterFail.

QueryFail was fun, though.

Exir
04-09-2009, 05:55 PM
The difference between queryfail and agentfail is that while queryfail is directed at queries (the writing, not the person), agentfail is directed at people. It is much more personal and hurtful IMO.

BenPanced
04-09-2009, 05:59 PM
I hadn't really heard of either until I clicked on this thread.

NicoleMD
04-09-2009, 06:26 PM
Queryfail sort of reminds me of a bunch of eighth graders picking on a group of puny sixth-graders for wearing funny glasses or head gear. Sure it might be entertaining to watch, and you might pick up some tips for not getting bullied yourself, but that doesn't make it right.

Nicole

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 06:32 PM
I guess what gets to me about both is that they are accused of being something negative based on what only one or two people did. People accuse queryfail as being wrong because the agents named names and gave specifics about the queries. No. ONE agent named a name, and was chastised for it by the other agents. Agentfail has some excellent suggestions, a few people were irrational in their hatred, but for the most part the agentfail was written by frustrated by logical authors. It's amazing how one bad apple ruins the barrel. What's even more amazing is that a lot of the people critiquing both (but especially queryfail) weren't even watching it, are only responding to stories they have heard other people say.

To me query fail was nothing more than those long lists of query stats that agents sometimes post on their blogs, but this time in real time. ONE agent was a bad boy and named names. ONE.

The same is with agentfail. Most people just listed their issues that totally made sense. But a few took advantage of the anonymity of the situation and put all their bile and anger towards agents into their comments.

But as far as whether or not these should have existed in the first place, eh, I dunno how productive either were, but they weren't exactly the most terrible the to ever have happened ever. I mean, some people don't even know it happened.

waylander
04-09-2009, 06:54 PM
There were some valid points made in Agentfail. Unfortunately the people who need to hear those points were not participating.

stormie
04-09-2009, 07:30 PM
On queryfail, I saw a lot of snippets of bad queries that I'd seen before on agents' blogs. It wasn't anything new. If the agents are seeing too much of the same bad query, isn't it a good thing for them to post what not to do? And it was anonymous.

Writers never stop learning, just as teachers, lawyers, and doctors (hopefull) continue educating themselves. And we can learn from the negative as well as the positive.

Remember Miss Snark anyone?!

spike
04-09-2009, 07:35 PM
Queryfail:

I wish they had mocked my queries. Please! Tell me where I went wrong. Which part made you want to roll it into a ball and set it on fire? Which part made you laugh until you wet your pants? Please mock me until you can mock no more! Just tell me what I'm doing wrong!

Agentfail:

I have never seen such a bunch of crybabies. They make me embarrassed to say I'm a writer. When did writers turn from being tough to little nancy-boys, crying that "My writing is personal, so rejections are personal."

No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited offers.

Judg
04-09-2009, 07:47 PM
No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited offers.
Wham! I had never thought of it in quite those terms. Makes sense though.

Bubastes
04-09-2009, 07:58 PM
No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited offers.

Game, set, match.

MacAllister
04-09-2009, 09:02 PM
And please, please, PLEASE someone tell me the Xfail meme is about to expire and be replaced by something that doesn't use a verb as a noun-forming suffix.

Kathleen42
04-09-2009, 09:19 PM
No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited offers.

Well, it is a bit different (not that I'm defending the whining). I regularly get unsolicited business offers but I don't really NEED the services. Agents need books to represent.

I don't think people should expect personal responses, but I do think it's unfortunate when no response is sent (leaving the writer wondering if their query made it past the spam filter).

I understand that many agents have adopted a "silence = no" response BECAUSE of the replies they were getting back from unprofessional writers but I do think it's unfortunate. A handful of people impacting the rest of us, if you will.

spike
04-09-2009, 09:34 PM
Well, it is a bit different (not that I'm defending the whining). I regularly get unsolicited business offers but I don't really NEED the services. Agents need books to represent.

What agents need are great books. Going through the slush is not their primary occupation. They need to be attentive to their signed clients.

When I was looking to change jobs, I sent out over 30 resumes(some in response to ads, others completely unsolicited). I didn't expect to hear back unless they were interested.

We get many solicitations at work for things we need, but we don't write back and say, "Sorry, I already have a vendor" or "Your prices are out of our budget" or "Your product looks good, but not right for us".

Responses are always appreciated, but I don't think non-response should get people so upset. They have to realize that responding "NO" does not make money for the agent. Working for signed authors does.


I don't think people should expect personal responses, but I do think it's unfortunate when no response is sent (leaving the writer wondering if their query made it past the spam filter).

I understand that many agents have adopted a "silence = no" response BECAUSE of the replies they were getting back from unprofessional writers but I do think it's unfortunate. A handful of people impacting the rest of us, if you will.

I agree. But I think it is more than a handful. Look at the Agentfail and see all those responses.

Chanelley
04-09-2009, 09:51 PM
I don't think either were all that helpful. I'd much prefer a querypass day rather than queryfail. I learn more from when agents post up queries that worked, than when they post up ones that didn't work. I don't know many people who would call themselves God's prophet in a query. Plus queryfail was kind of ruined by the snark involved with certain agents who referred to writers as idiots. And you know what, disrespect breeds disrespect. You can't expect to sit there and poke fun at writers and then when writers have something to say about agents, it's such a bad thing.

Agentfail could have been an interesting way to redevelop the way some, and I'm saying some - not all - agents work. Not responding to queries can lead to a lot of questions. What if my query got stuck in a spam filtre? At least acknowledge receipt. Also the blogging, twittering thing. I think what most were trying to say was that they have no problem with it being done, but then don't complain you have zero time to catch up on requested partials and fulls because you're so swamped with queries. I think someone even mentioned twittering about personal life outside office hours.

I think queryfail and agentfail should turn into querypass and agentpass. Come on, guys, what happened to respecting your fellow professionals? Writers are slamming agents, agents are mocking writers. It's not right, and it's a little immature.

Jennifer_Laughran
04-09-2009, 09:57 PM
No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited offers.

I am in love with you.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 10:09 PM
Queryfail:

I wish they had mocked my queries. Please! Tell me where I went wrong. Which part made you want to roll it into a ball and set it on fire? Which part made you laugh until you wet your pants? Please mock me until you can mock no more! Just tell me what I'm doing wrong!


Okay. Here's a really educational gem from snarkfa--sorry, queryfail:

Say you don't know how to paste the first five pages of your manuscript into your email? Please get your 3-year-old to teach you.

Well, now it's all clear. Wouldn't have gotten it without the sarcasm. How about this delightful nugget:

"I am writing this query letter to request permission to submit my proposal to you." Permission denied.

How charming!

Sorry, but this kind of attitude--and that expressed by people who started queryfail, who said things like "What is #Queryfail Day, you ask? *rubs hands together gleefully*"--isn't in anyone's wildest dreams an "educational" one. This was the equivalent of people hanging out at a bar after work bitching about their clients, and it was unprofessional in the extreme...especially since these clients never gave permission for their work to be mocked this way in the first place. Sorry, Adrienne, but the argument isn't about naming names. It's about humiliating people, many of whom thought they were trying to open up a professional relationship, not returning to sixth grade where the cool kids get to mock the losers in the corner of the cafeteria. Comments like "get over it" and "get a thicker skin" only make this sense worse.



Agentfail:

I have never seen such a bunch of crybabies. They make me embarrassed to say I'm a writer. When did writers turn from being tough to little nancy-boys, crying that "My writing is personal, so rejections are personal."
This was never, EVER the claim made by the vast majority of people in agentfail. If you had read through the thread, you'd see that the overwhelming comment was "send a response--at all."



No where else in the business world does anyone complain about a lack of response to unsolicited SOLICITED offers.Fixed that for you. These are not unsolicited. They're solicited by the same people who were mercilessly mocking the authors on whom their livelihoods depend in queryfail. And I'd like to see all those examples of places in the business world that don't respond to solicited offers.

There were a couple of good suggestions (not many--did you need #queryfail to tell you not to compare yourself to Lady Godiva in a query letter? Really? Was that something you were seriously considering?) which came out of #queryfail, and a couple of overreactions (not many) which came out of agentfail. But acting like the first was funny, professional and educational and the second was a collection of complaints from a bunch of bitter prima donnas is absurd and disingenuous. This may be why a number of agents--Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid among them--were as troubled by the #queryfail experiment as authors were. It's unfortunate the people "rubbing their hands gleefully" about #queryfail while weeping about agentfail don't understand the meaning of a double standard.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 10:10 PM
I don't think either were all that helpful. I'd much prefer a querypass day rather than queryfail. I learn more from when agents post up queries that worked, than when they post up ones that didn't work. I don't know many people who would call themselves God's prophet in a query. Plus queryfail was kind of ruined by the snark involved with certain agents who referred to writers as idiots. And you know what, disrespect breeds disrespect. You can't expect to sit there and poke fun at writers and then when writers have something to say about agents, it's such a bad thing.

QFT.

spike
04-09-2009, 10:28 PM
Absolutely unbelievable. Did you even READ either of these things?



Okay. Here's a really educational gem from snarkfa--sorry, queryfail:

Say you don't know how to paste the first five pages of your manuscript into your email? Please get your 3-year-old to teach you.Well, now it's all clear. Wouldn't have gotten it without the sarcasm. How about this delightful nugget:

"I am writing this query letter to request permission to submit my proposal to you." Permission denied.

How charming!



Sorry, I just love good mockage. Those two "gems" are exceptional. I laughed just as hard re-reading them.

See my post above concerning resumes. Same thing. An ad is in the paper or online, and you send a resume. If you don't hear from them, you know it was a "no". Why aren't potential employees crying "How do I know if they got it?" Because they know they will look silly.

I'm not talking about an agent who requests something, or those who had an agent, I'm talking about those who object to the "No response means no".

mscelina
04-09-2009, 10:36 PM
I just went through and read agentfail. All of it. One thing really jumped out at me--how many people were willing to toss their attitude around under the comfortable aegis of 'anonymous.'

I'm lucky--I was a professional actor for a long time and so rejection is an old and comfortable friend. The problem with a lot of prospective writers is that they're not accustomed to the word 'no.' I agree that agencies should make an effort to respond to the queries they receive BUT a 'no' is not [a] the agent thinking the writer is dumb [b] the agent on his high horse [c] the agent hitting an auto-response without reading the query or attached sample. Sometimes a 'no' is just that--a 'no, you're not ready to be published yet.'

Complaining takes too much energy away from my writing for me to sit here and try to read meaning into every rejection I get. Why not use that energy as fuel to improve your writing? It makes more sense and ultimately gets you further.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 10:39 PM
I just went through and read agentfail. All of it. One thing really jumped out at me--how many people were willing to toss their attitude around under the comfortable aegis of 'anonymous.'

After seeing the results of #querytrainwreck, I'd change "willing" to "smart." Why would you want to be singled out by these people?


The problem with a lot of prospective writers is that they're not accustomed to the word 'no.'

You're joking, right? How many prospective writers do you know have gotten anything but the word "no," hundreds of times?


I agree that agencies should make an effort to respond to the queries they receive BUT a 'no' is not [a] the agent thinking the writer is dumb [b] the agent on his high horse

How about "get your 3-year old to teach you"? Might that be [a] or , just maybe?



Complaining takes too much energy away from my writing [B]agenting for me to sit here and try to read meaning into every rejection bad query I get. Why not use that energy as fuel to improve your writing agenting? It makes more sense and ultimately gets you further.

Hmm.

Kathleen42
04-09-2009, 10:42 PM
Is there a transcript of #queryfail anywhere? I've tried searching for it on search.twitter but it's being stubborn and not letting me view any tweets for that week.

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 10:43 PM
Yeah the acting thing helps buckets. I would recommend every writer try the acting thing for a year. It'll help put things into perspective for you (try being rejected on your physical appearance alone, and not your talent - which might I remind people as authors we get to demonstrate right from the off in our query letter).

Anyway, found this great blog entry about the whole queryfail/agentfail deal, if people are curious: http://claena1.livejournal.com/119645.html

mscelina
04-09-2009, 10:45 PM
After seeing the results of #querytrainwreck, I'd change "willing" to "smart." Why would you want to be singled out by these people?



Hmm.

LOL--If I were an agent in disguise, I wouldn't be working so hard querying right now, would I?

And no, a smart writer wouldn't want their names remembered by agents who swarmed all over agentfail taking names.

mscelina
04-09-2009, 10:48 PM
Yeah the acting thing helps buckets. I would recommend every writer try the acting thing for a year. It'll help put things into perspective for you (try being rejected on your physical appearance alone, and not your talent - which might I remind people as authors we get to demonstrate right from the off in our query letter).


Exactly. That's one of the reasons that when I got into directing I made certain not to do that. Sometimes the brightest talents lie behind less than prepossessing faces. It works the same way for writing. That's why it's best to KNOW how to write a good query--you have to be able to create interest in your work and then let the work speak for itself. A query is a writer's audition. Why blow it and then wonder why you're not called back to read for a major role?

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 10:48 PM
LOL--If I were an agent in disguise, I wouldn't be working so hard querying right now, would I?


Heh, I wasn't actually accusing you of being an agent in disguise. That's funny, though...I hadn't thought of that. :)



And no, a smart writer wouldn't want their names remembered by agents who swarmed all over agentfail taking names.

Yep.

Blondchen
04-09-2009, 10:52 PM
My agent posted a response (http://gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com/2009/04/agentfail-response-from-non-failing.html) to Agentfail on my blog earlier this week. I got an insane amount of hits which says this subject tweaks a lot of people. Though I must say I was really happy over the LACK of flaming in the comments. I think most people view this whole debacle with good amount of common sense.

badducky
04-09-2009, 10:58 PM
Who has the time and mental energy for all these X-Fails?!

Queryfail was a bad idea. Then, the agents who realized how bad their idea was realized it at one point, stopped, and apologized. They're intentions were good. They're basically nice people with good intentions who made a mistake. Then, they apologized. That's not a knock against their professionalism, or even - really - their judgment, because everyone in the world makes mistakes and it's how one handles them once discovered that matters, and all of the agents I'd seen were genuinely apologetic.

Agentfail was worse because apparently an apology is just not enough. Folks also have to dance on the burned idols of agents that made one mistake.

If you're really offended by it, there's no need to post screeds to the internet. Just take those agents off your list. I've done that with magazines that offend me. It's easy. It requires no investment of mental energy. And, you can shout DELETED! at the top of your lungs, which is quite rewarding, actually.

The worst thing you can do to an agent is to not query them with your next project.

So, if you were really offended, just do that and move on. Otherwise, please everyone learn to recognize the difference between a real emergency and a fake internet emergency and learn to back away from the latter before you get emotionally invested.

The real, underlying issue is that, for some reason, the internet is where every minor ruffled feather must turn into a worldwide catastrophe!

Chanelley
04-09-2009, 10:58 PM
Anyway, found this great blog entry about the whole queryfail/agentfail deal, if people are curious: http://claena1.livejournal.com/119645.html
Another fine mockage of writers ;) From being on this site alone, all I see are serious writers. How would you like it, as an actor, if someone posted your audition reel -with your face blanked out- as a way of telling people not to act like you? Unless permission is given to use a query letter to 'teach' others, then please don't do it. I swear it's frowned upon to post up rejection letters and mock those? Querying is hard enough without fearing you're going to get mocked in front of hundreds. Nameless or not, someone else mentioned someone was identified from posting their query for help here. And agenting is hard enough without getting aggressive responses from writers you tell no. I think some lessons in manners need to be dished out to a few individuals.

BlueTexas
04-09-2009, 11:04 PM
What I learned from Agentfail and Queryfail is that if you make statements in public, those statements give a pretty good insight into the type of person you are.

Which gives other people an insight into the type of person you'd be to work with.

When agents and writers sign together, they become business partners. Agentfail and Queryfail were both good tools for evaluating who you might or might not want for a business partner. Granted, Agentfail would have been better if people had used their real names.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 11:04 PM
That's why it's best to KNOW how to write a good query--you have to be able to create interest in your work and then let the work speak for itself. A query is a writer's audition. Why blow it and then wonder why you're not called back to read for a major role?

Thank God I learned not to compare myself to Lady Godiva in my query letters, then. Thank heavens for #Queryfail University!

:Shrug:

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 11:04 PM
Another fine mockage of writers

By a writer. Who by all appearances isn't agented herself. Look I get people were offended, I get that others were not. But I also get that people have blown both of these things way out of proportion, forgotten that the participants are human beings, fallible, and that the majority of people involved HAVE been rational about it. To me it's the people who WEREN'T involved, who never even read queryfail, or agentfail, who are the biggest problem.

mscelina
04-09-2009, 11:06 PM
Another fine mockage of writers ;) From being on this site alone, all I see are serious writers. How would you like it, as an actor, if someone posted your audition reel -with your face blanked out- as a way of telling people not to act like you? Unless permission is given to use a query letter to 'teach' others, then please don't do it. I swear it's frowned upon to post up rejection letters and mock those? Querying is hard enough without fearing you're going to get mocked in front of hundreds. Nameless or not, someone else mentioned someone was identified from posting their query for help here. And agenting is hard enough without getting aggressive responses from writers you tell no. I think some lessons in manners need to be dished out to a few individuals.

You don't think that happens in acting classes all the time?

And obviously, you've never been to a cattle call audition. Time is an issue, and if they don't like your audition they really do yell, "Thank you!" cutting you off in mid-word and sending you on your way.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 11:07 PM
Who has the time and mental energy for all these X-Fails?!

Queryfail was a bad idea. Then, the agents who realized how bad their idea was realized it at one point, stopped, and apologized. They're intentions were good. They're basically nice people with good intentions who made a mistake. Then, they apologized. That's not a knock against their professionalism, or even - really - their judgment, because everyone in the world makes mistakes and it's how one handles them once discovered that matters, and all of the agents I'd seen were genuinely apologetic.

Is that why many of the same ones are "gleefully" preparing for Queryfail II? And making up sequel names?

badducky
04-09-2009, 11:09 PM
If you think this is mocking of agents, pick either me or Adrienne and go see if you can find some of our less-than-stellar reviews.

I particularly recommend the Austin book club's complete and utter hatred of my book.

Every artist risks mockery at every level of the process.

Chanelley: The notion that queryign is hard puzzles me. Querying is fundamentally very easy. All you have to do is write a good book to attach to the query, and make sure there's no grammar or usage errors. Cover letters are more about proving you aren't crazy than they are about selling yourself.

The book: that's the hard part.

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 11:09 PM
You don't think that happens in acting classes all the time?

And obviously, you've never been to a cattle call audition. Time is an issue, and if they don't like your audition they really do yell, "Thank you!" cutting you off in mid-word and sending you on your way.

Exactly!

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 11:11 PM
If you think this is mocking of agents, pick either me or Adrienne and go see if you can find some of our less-than-stellar reviews.

I particularly recommend the Austin book club's complete and utter hatred of my book.

Every artist risks mockery at every level of the process.


Ooh, there's the one where my book is called, "One of the worst books ever written"! Or the person who wants to hit me over the head with a flower pot. Not sure why a flower pot in particular . . .

badducky
04-09-2009, 11:14 PM
Is that why many of the same ones are "gleefully" preparing for Queryfail II? And making up sequel names?

Like I said, who has time for all of this nonsense over next-to-nothing. At least two apologized, if I remember. Maybe my facts are messed up? I'm not sifting through all this nonsense for every single line of the x-Fail.

And, again, let me re-iterate this: these are basically nice people who are trying to help aspiring writers. If you don't like their method, don't query them.

Venting into the internet is not nearly as cruel as taking them off your list.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 11:16 PM
If you think this is mocking of agents, pick either me or Adrienne and go see if you can find some of our less-than-stellar reviews.

I particularly recommend the Austin book club's complete and utter hatred of my book.

Every artist risks mockery at every level of the process.

Including those cases where they didn't put something public out to be mocked in the first place--like, say, a query letter to an individual agent?

I'm honestly mystified that so many authors have no problem being treated like this. Amazing.

Bubastes
04-09-2009, 11:20 PM
Including those cases where they didn't put something public out to be mocked in the first place--like, say, a query letter to an individual agent?

I'm honestly mystified that so many authors have no problem being treated like this. Amazing.

It's not that I don't have a problem with it. I did find some of the posts a bit unprofessional. However, that doesn't mean I'm going to waste energy gnashing my teeth over it. It's really not that big of a deal.

Chanelley
04-09-2009, 11:21 PM
You're right, I'm not an actor. But this is about writing, not acting, and I wouldn't appreciate my audition reel being posted online for hundreds to see either. And not everyone finds querying as easy as writing a letter, correcting grammar and sending - as you can see from the SYW board. To some, sending a query is the most nerve wracking thing out there. It all comes down to individual differences. Even agents admit that some writers, who write amazing books, can't write a query to save their lives. Look it up.
I think that trying to teach writers is a good thing, it really is, but when mocking is involved, it crosses a line. On both sides. I definitely don't agree that mocking agents is acceptable. Or being aggressive, rude, or disrespectful to them for saying no.
I'm just in the middle hoping people will be more respectful to each other.

Phoenix Fury
04-09-2009, 11:21 PM
Like I said, who has time for all of this nonsense over next-to-nothing. At least two apologized, if I remember. Maybe my facts are messed up? I'm not sifting through all this nonsense for every single line of the x-Fail.

Nonsense is right.



And, again, let me re-iterate this: these are basically nice people who are trying to help aspiring writers. If you don't like their method, don't query them.

Venting into the internet is not nearly as cruel as taking them off your list.

And let me reiterate: Mockery is not help. And queryfail was the definition of mocking (and venting, actually). I didn't participate in either queryfail or agentfail, but I read through both, and there is an incredible double standard being applied here.

Anyway, I've got some revisions to get done, so enough for now!

Blondchen
04-09-2009, 11:32 PM
You're right, I'm not an actor. But this is about writing, not acting, and I wouldn't appreciate my audition reel being posted online for hundreds to see either.

Just from the other side of the desk on this one. When actor's send reels, writer's submit packets, animators send samples of their work to you in hardcopy form, it can be used in any way that does not directly result in a profit for the production company. I.E., you might find one of the jokes you wrote in your packet used by a celebrity in their Tonight Show appearance, or on YouTube as what NOT to send with your headshot and resume. Happens a lot. Just saying.

Toothpaste
04-09-2009, 11:33 PM
Phoenix, I think it comes from two totally different outlooks. Some see it as mockery, others as information. Each side is trying to convince the other of their position, but that's pretty much impossible.

That's the crux, and that's why the debate will never go away.

ETA: I don't see a double standard at all. Many people felt that there were agents who were out of line in queryfail, and many felt there were writers out of line in agentfail. Some writers loved queryfail, some agents appreciated agentfail. Again to me this is an issue of people picking and choosing whatever posts suit their arguments.

Chanelley
04-09-2009, 11:36 PM
Just from the other side of the desk on this one. When actor's send reels, writer's submit packets, animators send samples of their work to you in hardcopy form, it can be used in any way that does not directly result in a profit for the production company. I.E., you might find one of the jokes you wrote in your packet used by a celebrity in their Tonight Show appearance, or on YouTube as what NOT to send with your headshot and resume. Happens a lot. Just saying.
Ouch - thats harsh. There really are some cruel people in this world. Doesn't make it right, though. If that happened to me, or I saw something like that, I have the full right to complain about it.

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 12:12 AM
Oh, writers have been venting about--and posting copies of, presumably without anyone's permission--their correspondences with agents and editors for years, online.

I present for your edification: RejectionCollection.com (http://rejectioncollection.com/)

badducky
04-10-2009, 12:12 AM
Once you send a letter, it no longer belongs to you...

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 12:17 AM
I don't think there's any question that the excerpts used fall under Fair Use, especially as those excerpts were used for educational purposes.

mscelina
04-10-2009, 12:57 AM
I don't think there's any question that the excerpts used fall under Fair Use, especially as those excerpts were used for educational purposes.

I agree. It's hard to contend with the purpose of queryfail, which really was to help writers learn what NOT to do with their queries from the people who judge those queries. The acting anaology is apt, however, just like a huried show for artists is apt or a demo tapes for musicians or whatever. The fact of the matter is that in the arts all judgments are subjective. Every artist learns something new as they progress in their careers. It's just the way the creative world works. To accuse the agents of doing nothing but mocking the writers' queries is disingenuous at best.

When I first started in summer stock as a wee-ling of fifteen, our instructor in the interns' program went through everyone's head shots and resumes to specifically point out what was wrong with all of them. I sat there in class and heard him call my headshot a 'floating head' because I was wearing a black shirt against a black background. *shrug* I learned from that. I've been in auditions where the casting director looked at me as soon as I walked in the room and said "No way. Her chin's too long" or "Oh, you don't fit the guidelines for this role at all." Throughout my career, I only ever was able to change a director's mind twice after my audition.

Twice. In fifteen years. You want to learn about how to accept rejection? Go to New York and audition for roles there. *wince* Ouch.

Chanelley
04-10-2009, 01:05 AM
That's why I'm not an actor. I couldn't deal with that. I'm a writer and this is about writing. People are different, we take things differently. Everyone has the right to complain. I just don't agree with the mocking. And you're right, Mscelina, not all agents mock. But a few do and if you noticied, agentfail was mainly about them. Not all writers mock either, but a few do. Demanding that agents be named and shame was so over the line I don't even know where to start. No one is completely right here, no one is completely wrong. I'm not pro agentfail, I'm not pro queryfail. Again, I say, let's have a querypass and agentpass please.

mscelina
04-10-2009, 01:08 AM
That's fine, Chanelley. You're still missing the point. but that's fine.

Chanelley
04-10-2009, 01:09 AM
Please explain how.
ETA: Actually don't. This topic is one of those where it's going to go around in a circle unresolved because people all have different opinions about the way people should be treated. I think the treatment of both writers and agents should be looked into. And I'm not going to backtrack on that.

Judg
04-10-2009, 01:43 AM
The real, underlying issue is that, for some reason, the internet is where every minor ruffled feather must turn into a worldwide catastrophe!
:ROFL:

Luckily, raising five teenagers used up most of my emotional energy so I've learned to save it for when it really matters.

Phoenix Fury
04-10-2009, 02:37 AM
I agree. It's hard to contend with the purpose of queryfail, which really was to help writers learn what NOT to do with their queries from the people who judge those queries.

Actually it's easy to contend with it, especially when that wasn't the purpose. Again, look at "rubs hands gleefully" and tell me (be honest) whether you really think this exercise was about education. And even if it was about education--which it wasn't--showing ridiculous examples like "I have a divine mandate from God to write this book" accomplishes zero in the way of teaching, unless you think the writers reading #queryfail were really intending to send something like that to an agent. If you assess it honestly, and aren't just trying to win an argument, I think you'll see how silly an exercise this was. And I'm sorry, Adrienne, but I don't agree that this was a case of "everyone misbehaved a little bit." Queryfail came first, it ridiculed and mocked authors for the purpose of letting a couple of frustrated agents let off steam, and when agentfail was started in response (by an agent, incidentally), many of the same "gleeful" people started singing Apocalypse Now.

The answer to all of this is professionalism on both sides. Authors should follow guidelines for submission, and shouldn't expect instantaneous responses. Agents shouldn't treat potential clients as an irritation and annoyance, and should treat them with the same respect they would want to be treated. And most importantly, everyone should get the hell off of Twitter. ;)

HapiSofi
04-10-2009, 05:19 AM
And let me reiterate: Mockery is not help. And queryfail was the definition of mocking (and venting, actually). I didn't participate in either queryfail or agentfail, but I read through both, and there is an incredible double standard being applied here.
Oh, frickin' get over it. Mockery can be helpful. There's a subsection on it in the writer's tool manual. Also, your use of "incredible" is sloppy.

Actually it's easy to contend with it, especially when that wasn't the purpose. Again, look at "rubs hands gleefully" and tell me (be honest) whether you really think this exercise was about education.It was about education. It was a generous and helpful act.

...showing ridiculous examples like "I have a divine mandate from God to write this book" accomplishes zero in the way of teaching, unless you think the writers reading #queryfail were really intending to send something like that to an agent.I see you've never read slush.

Queryfail came first, it ridiculed and mocked authors for the purpose of letting a couple of frustrated agents let off steam,And that you have no ear.

Oh, writers have been venting about--and posting copies of, presumably without anyone's permission--their correspondences with agents and editors for years, online.

I present for your edification: RejectionCollection.com (http://rejectioncollection.com/)
Those guys are still in business? I suppose it's a good thing. It certainly makes it easier to discuss rejection letters.

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 05:45 AM
Those guys are still in business? I suppose it's a good thing. It certainly makes it easier to discuss rejection letters.They seem to be, yep. I'd just sent someone in another thread to the Slushkiller (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html) post on Making Light, in answer to their persistent and plaintive thread derail "but explain why agents can't just TELL you what's wrong and why they're not accepting your work? It would help writers fix what's broken!"

So rejectioncollection.com, sadly, was still fresh in my memory.

Toothpaste
04-10-2009, 06:03 AM
Phoenix, agree to disagree.

But I will point out that the "rubs hands together gleefully" is an intended play up of the way some people have been considering agents who participated in the queryfail as evil nasty creatures. You know, like Mr. Burns who is so eeevil he taps his fingers and says, "Exxxxxcellent". The whole point of Mr. Burns is to play up that stereotype of the evil boss, so too is that statement meant to play up the perception by some that the agents who participated are the most inhumane, wretched kind of human beings who have ever lived. I read that very tweet, and knew instantly it was someone mocking the people who said such extreme comments about said agents (note this isn't a diss towards all dissenting voices, I agree that some participating agents did go too far, and many writers had legitimate calm complaints, no this was mocking the people who considered the activity as a slightly disproportionate level of evil to what actually happened). I'm not saying that despite this explanation you aren't allowed to find it distasteful, but I did have to say something because the way you keep quoting it worried me that you didn't get that it was a joke. That you didn't get that the agent wasn't ACTUALLY rubbing her hands together gleefully at the thought of being cruel and nasty to all those innocent authors out there.

(also, in following queryfail, you did note there were querywins right? It wasn't all negative. The point was that agents tend to get more bad than good stuff so obviously the ratio would be skewed towards the negative, still when they finally found a query they liked, they announced that as well)

Medievalist
04-10-2009, 06:09 AM
Lord, if you think the language of queryfail and agentfail was harsh, you'd best avoid academic publishing altogether.

Typically both the proposal and the ms. for a scholarly article or a monograph in the humanities are anonymously reviewed by three or so scholars who have a solid reputation in the field. They are thorough, but brutal--they have, after all, years and years of training in responding to written text, and in academic rhetoric.

Often the proposal, and the ms., come back looking like they've been blooded in battle. And those are the ones accepted for publication!

Calla Lily
04-10-2009, 06:14 AM
*finally butting in*

IIRC, the agent in question is one who graciously called me after reading my full and spent half an hour discussing one of my ms, offering excellent suggestions and complimenting my writing.

I've since signed with a different agent, but I would've been more than happy to sign with her had she offered. In my opinionated opinion, this whole thing has so been blown out of proportion. It's like books you don't like or movies to which you object: don't read or watch them. It's a free country: query other agents.

And try posting your query in SYW--that's where I learned what was wrong with my queries before I started querying agents.

/soapbox

SPMiller
04-10-2009, 06:48 AM
I'm loving the factions that have developed in this thread. Keep it coming, guys. I need the laughs these days.

badducky
04-10-2009, 07:06 AM
When people can't imagine a sense of humor other than their own (and I'm *not* singling anyone of us out here!) no amount of hand-waving and shouting of "IT'S A JOKE! SHEESH!" will make a difference.

badducky
04-10-2009, 07:06 AM
AUGH! My mental energies are being swallowed by the X-Fail!

NOOOOOOO!

Jersey Chick
04-10-2009, 07:12 AM
Well, Bookends ( http://www.bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2009/04/authorpass-and-agentpass-day.html) did do an agentpass post. Sadly, there were just about a third as many comments as the agentfail post received.

That said, I tried to read queryfail and gave up because a)I'm a Twitter twit, apparently and b) well, see A.

I did read all three hundred something comments on agentfail and there were some valid points (I don't think it's entirely unreasonable for an agent to have an autoresponder just to let a writer know their email didn't vanish into space or get sucked into a spam filter), those valid points got lost in a sea of whine (that doesn't look right.) And I really had to laugh at the anonymous posters who called for agents to be named. For real?

Yep, rejection sucks. But deal with it. Suck it up and get on with your life. If a writer can't do that because an agent didn't send them a personalized rejection, perhaps that writer should look to another career.

Just sayin'

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 07:14 AM
AUGH! My mental energies are being swallowed by the X-Fail!

NOOOOOOO!BWAHAHAHH!!!!

That's whatcha get for playing along at home.

PMed you, btw.

Jersey Chick
04-10-2009, 07:19 AM
the Fail thing is kinda like how the media has to attach the word "gate" at the end of every presidential scandal.

**headesk**

Thank God the apartment complex was the Watergate and not the Lipshitz. :D

Phoenix Fury
04-10-2009, 07:38 AM
Oh, frickin' get over it. Mockery can be helpful. There's a subsection on it in the writer's tool manual. Also, your use of "incredible" is sloppy.

Again, no amount of "frickin' get over it" will change the sense that many, many authors have that mocking doesn't help them. It often hurts, and turns people off from writing altogether. I'm a teacher and writer by profession, and I promise you there is no better way to lose a student than to mock him/her in the interest of "education." You may find it funny; they won't. Also, my use of "incredible" was perfectly appropriate, thanks.


It was about education. It was a generous and helpful act.Hey, what a great argument! Here, let me try: it wasn't about education. It was a nasty and mean-spirited exercise.

I guess our competing assertions cancel out. Funny how that happens. I'd rather we rely on arguments and logic instead.



I see you've never read slush.
Nope. And none of the people who would send such absurd queries to an agent are likely to be savvy enough to the writing world to be on Twitter in the first place, following a topic like #queryfail. If they are, do you think such mockery is more likely to make them change, or slink away in abject humiliation and never bother anyone with their writing again? Here, try this thought experiment with me:



And that you have no ear.
Now do you think a nasty comment like this is more likely to make me understand your point of view, or classify you as an #$%%^%^ who I'm going to ignore from now on? Fun and games aside, I'm sorry, but you don't simply get to assert the effect this has on other people as fact. I've made clear in this thread why I think #queryfail was a pointless and mean exercise in logical terms (and many others, including agents, agree with me. Do you think Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid also "have no ear"?). You've responded by insulting me. You haven't convinced me you're right, but you've certainly convinced me that you're exactly the kind of person who would like #queryfail. Good to know.

Medievalist, I have ten articles and a book published through academic presses, and have been through the peer review wringer many, many times. I've never had the experience of having someone publicly claim that I should learn how to do something from my 3-year old. If I did, that person would not be likely to review an article for that journal again. The difference is instructive.

Adrienne: I got that the agent has now tried to play this off as humorous. I also know that I've heard lots of people make off-color jokes and then retreat rapidly behind the shield of "oh, it was all a joke," "get over it," "don't take things so seriously," and so on, all while refusing to acknowledge the illegitimacy of the initial jokes to begin with. Nor do I think something which is so educational *rumbling effect* can work that well when it's drenched in the mocking, dismissive attitude at the root of #queryfail.

Here's a thought: rather than dismissing the many, many people who were hurt here out of hand, how about we consider the remote possibility that they might be on to something, and that maybe, just maybe, public mocking of one's potential clients--over freaking Twitter--may not be the most professional and educational *flash of lightning* way to ensure better queries in the future? I may not have an ear, but I think I can still read the difference between satire and vitriol on occasion.

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 08:00 AM
Victoria Strauss made a really interesting observation on the Writer Beware blog (http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2009/04/victoria-strauss-agentfail.html):


I'm often struck by the extraordinary amount of anger that's directed at agents--far more, it seems to me, than is directed at publishers or editors.
<snip>
I think the root cause of agent-focused anger lies in the uneven power balance between agents and unpublished writers. Since, query by query, the agent has the power to strike the writer into outer darkness, the agent acquires superhuman qualities. Since being represented is a state of ultimate desirability, the agent is elevated to the status of the Holy Grail. The agent becomes an archetype, rather than a fallible human being doing business the best s/he can.

I think Victoria is onto something that bears a closer look, here.



Now do you think a nasty comment like this is more likely to make me understand your point of view, or classify you as an #$%%^%^ who I'm going to ignore from now on? Fun and games aside, I'm sorry, but you don't simply get to assert the effect this has on other people as fact. I've made clear in this thread why I think #queryfail was a pointless and mean exercise in logical terms (and many others, including agents, agree with me. Do you think Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid also "have no ear"?). You've responded by insulting me. You haven't convinced me you're right, but you've certainly convinced me that you're exactly the kind of person who would like #queryfail. Good to know.

Dial it back a bit, Phoenix, eh? Many, many people DO think it was educational, generally well-intended, and found the window into an agent's world helpful. Many, many people read satire where you're reading malice and vitriol. You didn't. Fine. *shug* I suspect that taking the exercise personally isn't going to help you (or anyone else) either.

So what would you recommend when you've spelled out your submission guidelines clearly, in multiple locations, and people STILL send you queries with no pages? Or send you attachments that you've said plainly you will not open? And it happens not just once, but dozens of times a week?

Honestly? Yes. At that point, mockery becomes appropriate, as far as I can tell. I've read slush. In spite of our bluntly clear guidelines, I have people pasting 15K words into the bodies of emails, attaching pdfs or weird-ass files I have no inclination whatsoever to even try and open, sending me genres I don't publish, sending me freaking NOVELS ostensibly for my ezine, and writing to ask me if they should send a story at all. These people are online. Some of them I know from here, or from Twitter, or other places online. They're clearly NOT reading the submission guidelines. So if they see themselves in this post, and feel a little stung because "Oh, crap...I sent Mac my 20K word memoir for her specfic zine last week..." then GOOD! Maybe they'll finally figure it out, because clearly more traditional methods of imparting that information have been utterly useless.

If so, then mockery succeeded--at least in that single case--and may very well make a difference in their learning curve so they'll go and look up the damned submission guidelines, read them, follow them, and improve their own chances greatly as a direct result.

badducky
04-10-2009, 08:00 AM
PhoenixFury, look around you. This is actually turning into a dogpile. And we're also writers and teachers and many of us know these agents, and/or ones just like them.

We're not dismissing that feelings were hurt. We're dismissing that feelings were hurt to such a high degree that it seems insane. The response is far worse than the offense.

For example, I encourage you to go back over your last post, as an academic, and look at where your emotions have clouded your own judgment into producing generalizations.

HapiSofi's comment is not nasty. Seriously, that is not a nasty comment. That's an assertion based on fact that you have difficulty hearing what is humor. Toothpaste has talked about that, too. No one is mocking you. We are not out to get you. She doesn't deserve to be talked to with &*%$&.

If you can't see that we are not out to get you, step away from the thread, take a deep breath and try again tomorrow.

Phoenix Fury
04-10-2009, 08:06 AM
PhoenixFury, look around you. This is actually turning into a dogpile. And we're also writers and teachers and many of us know these agents, and/or ones just like them.

We're not dismissing that feelings were hurt. We're dismissing that feelings were hurt to such a high degree that it seems insane. The response is far worse than the offense.

For example, I encourage you to go back over your last post, as an academic, and look at where your emotions have clouded your own judgment into producing generalizations.

HapiSofi's comment is not nasty. Seriously, that is not a nasty comment. That's an assertion based on fact that you have difficulty hearing what is humor. Toothpaste has talked about that, too. No one is mocking you. We are not out to get you. She doesn't deserve to be talked to with &*%$&.


I'm truly amused by this. If I read what you wrote, and respond with "you have no clue what an argument is," is that a logical claim based upon a fact, or an assertion (it would be an assertion, and would be wrong for me to say, by the way)? Second, I am in no way upset by anything that's been said here. Really. If you think my response is some overreaction, I'd respectfully suggest that you may not have an ear either (which is, of course, an entirely normal, non-nasty comment, right? :) ).

Moreover, I don't think anyone is mocking me, or out to get me. I've never said that. And given the number of people I've heard from privately, I hardly think this is all of you (whatever that would mean) against me. I am surprised that some people here are awfully willing to leap to the defense of a badly thought out exercise, so desperate are they to avoid even the impression of being in disagreement with a few (and only a few) agents, but I'm certainly not perturbed in any serious way. I'm fine with agreeing to disagree, as Adrienne said.

Finally, Mac: I'm not taking this personally. I would never send any of the queries I saw listed on QF to an agent (one of the reasons I don't think QF was educational), and I didn't participate in agentfail either. I just think that the reaction to agentfail, making it seem like a terrible attack on agents while not asking the reasonable question about why such things were perfectly okay in QF, is silly and deserves to be challenged. But no blood pressure issues here, I promise. :)

badducky
04-10-2009, 08:19 AM
You can't will away your generalizations with a magic wand and the assertion that you're an academic. You made one assertion that is a "promise". Personal experience is not the same as a fact. In fact, there are students who respond to mockery. It is a generalization to assume otherwise.

Then, you also generalized about the itnentions of others, as if you truly know, and you alone, what they're thinking.

Then, you generalized about the people who use twitter. I assure you that there are stupid people on Twitter, just as there are smart people. It doesn't take much web savvy to come up with a password and a username. Also, it has little relation to one's ability to write queries. The skills are definitely not related.

Then, you attacked HapiSofi. Look, it isn't misreading. There was no markers of humor. No sarcastic exaggeration, or wit, or metaphoric language suggesting whimsy. You straight up attacked her.

You then claim that your experience in the academic wringer is universal. Which it isn't.

Then, you try to force Adrienne to acknowledge that if somebody, somewhere is offended by a joke, it's evil and wrong. Which is completely false.

Then, you attack these agents again for daring to talk about bad queries on twitter with the same, stubborn refusal to acknowledfge that maybe, maybe not everyone was offended, and it's okay to live in a world where sometimes people get offended by other people, even in professional settings, and a large part of being a professional is choosing yoru battles when you encounter stuff that bothers you.

Let it go, Pheonix. Just drop these guys off your query list and move on.

(Oh, and apologize to HapiSofi.)

badducky
04-10-2009, 08:21 AM
X-fails are f-ing addictive, aren't they?

S***! I am a living embodiment of the XKCD cartoon where I can't go to bed because someone is wrong on the internet!

Phoenix Fury
04-10-2009, 08:30 AM
You can't will away your generalizations with a magic wand and the assertion that you're an academic. You made one assertion that is a "promise". Personal experience is not the same as a fact. In fact, there are students who respond to mockery. It is a generalization to assume otherwise.


Sigh. I don't want to get into a battle of credentials here, ducky. I can give you countless examples of cases I've studied and personally experienced in which mocking--we're not talking about pleasant banter here--turned off students. This isn't an exaggerated claim; it's well accepted by educators. But I don't see the point of fighting, which was never my point in this thread, so if you think it's an unreasonable generalization, okay.



Then, you also generalized about the itnentions of others, as if you truly know, and you alone, what they're thinking.


No, I really didn't. I understand (and am sorry) that you're upset with me, but I made logical arguments, not emotional assertions.



Then, you generalized about the people who use twitter. I assure you that there are stupid people on Twitter, just as there are smart people. It doesn't take much web savvy to come up with a password and a username. Also, it has little relation to one's ability to write queries. The skills are definitely not related.


I'd refer you to your own arguments about making a joke, but for all those whom I insulted with my joke about Twitter not being the best medium for complex discussion, I sincerely apologize.



Then, you attacked HapiSofi. Look, it isn't misreading. There was no markers of humor. No sarcastic exaggeration, or wit, or metaphoric language suggesting whimsy. You straight up attacked her.


No, I didn't. HapiSofi told me to "get over it" and that I "had no ear." That's an insult, not a joke. I replied that saying something like that was not likely to make me understand her point of view, just as much of the tone in QF was not likely to make authors change the way they queried. I made no counter insult at all, unless you think my comment that she seems to be the kind of person who would like QF is itself insulting. If so, um--you may have some trouble with the whole "QF is fine" line of thinking...



You then claim that your experience in the academic wringer is universal. Which it isn't.


Agreed. This is why it's a good thing I never made any such claim. Medievalist mentioned that comments from the peer review system in academia were much harsher than QF. I disagreed based on my personal experience alone. Never said anything about it being a universal truth.



Then, you try to force Adrienne to acknowledge that if somebody, somewhere is offended by a joke, it's evil and wrong. Which is completely false.


And not at all what I said.



Then, you attack these agents again for daring to talk about bad queries on twitter with the same, stubborn refusal to acknowledfge that maybe, maybe not everyone was offended, and it's okay to live in a world where sometimes people get offended by other people, even in professional settings, and a large part of being a professional is choosing yoru battles when you encounter stuff that bothers you.


I don't think I'm being stubborn. But I am genuinely sorry you're so upset with me, and since I don't want the thread to be derailed I'll bow out of it now.

Medievalist
04-10-2009, 08:31 AM
Medievalist, I have ten articles and a book published through academic presses, and have been through the peer review wringer many, many times. I've never had the experience of having someone publicly claim that I should learn how to do something from my 3-year old. If I did, that person would not be likely to review an article for that journal again. The difference is instructive.

An academic press is not the same thing, at all, as a scholarly press. Nor is peer review for an academic journal the same thing. Wiley or Jossey-Bass are academic presses. When I say "scholarly press," I mean presses from Research I universities; Oxford University Press, UC Press, University of Chicago Press, Yale University Press, Harvard University Press.

There's a reason reviewing a scholarly monograph includes an honorarium in the 250.00 to 1,000.00 range. The accompanying rancor is more expensive as well.

When the rewards for publication are so small (tenure, promotion, stars in your crown, but rarely royalties) the competition is exponentially more fierce. I've seen many many monograph mss. with reviewers suggestions of the most expeditious methods of suicide. Harold Bloom, of all people, is the most brutal of the more recognizable names. One of my mentors has the reputation of being brutal in three languages; I used to have to translate his scathing comments for callers.

badducky
04-10-2009, 08:39 AM
I'm glad you're bowing out, but I'm not upset with you.

I'm upset with your arguments, and - honestly - your failure at them.

You are crying foul of others for comitting the same thing you just did: tell jokes that risk offending others.

You also always seem to try to reword your way out of a corner, without leaving the corner. That's also troublesome.

I also love the weaselly way you say you won't bring up your credentials, but then immediately turn around and bring them up and tell me I couldn't possibly understand because of your mysterious credentials.

Again, I say that kindly, as a critique of the argument, and it's not intended as a personal statement.

As a debate tactic, it's cheap and - to me - completely destroys your credibility.

Best of luck in the next teapot tempest.

Medievalist
04-10-2009, 08:50 AM
If I look at a week's worth of manuscripts for a publisher with very clear guidelines about kinds of mss. (in this case only mss. about the Macintosh operating system, Macintosh computers, and Macintosh applications) I can toss at least half because they are for Windows.

Of the remaining mss., 40% will be in some unknown tongue that apparently has no standard requirements regarding orthography or syntax; it is not, however, English, so I can toss those aside as well.

I am left with 10% that might actually be worth looking at. I might find one that's possible. Maybe. if it's a good week.

If an author can follow instructions, they're already in the top 10%, so no, I don't think either queryfail or agentfail were "fails."

They were bloody realistic.

Toothpaste
04-10-2009, 08:51 AM
Here's a thought: rather than dismissing the many, many people who were hurt here out of hand, how about we consider the remote possibility that they might be on to something, and that maybe, just maybe, public mocking of one's potential clients--over freaking Twitter--may not be the most professional and educational *flash of lightning* way to ensure better queries in the future? I may not have an ear, but I think I can still read the difference between satire and vitriol on occasion.

Hmm . . . not sure when I dismissed anyone. In fact if I may quote myself from earlier: "I agree that some participating agents did go too far, and many writers had legitimate calm complaints."

My issue has never been with whether queryfail, agentfail, were wise or idiotic, but that the vitriolic responses to both were shockingly out of proportion with what actually "went down" as it were. As I also stated earlier: "Look I get people were offended, I get that others were not. But I also get that people have blown both of these things way out of proportion, forgotten that the participants are human beings, fallible, and that the majority of people involved HAVE been rational about it. To me it's the people who WEREN'T involved, who never even read queryfail, or agentfail, who are the biggest problem."

In case I wasn't clear about it I meant the participants in both queryfail AND agentfail.

In fact, I think my point was in general: There were good points made in both "fails", but unfortunately they were overshadowed by negative examples of each, as I also said earlier - "It's amazing how one bad apple ruins the barrel."

Also I don't think any agent saw queryfail as a means to an end, as the sole way to educate over the proper way to query. I think that's why many of those agents also have detailed blogs on the subject and guidelines on their websites. In fact I don't think the most important lesson about queryfail was actually the "fail" part, but rather for the interested person to learn what a day in the life of an agent reading queries is like. To see just how many people, despite the guidelines being posted many places, don't follow them, to see how many queries agents get in a day. And to see the immediate impression a query makes.

As for the humour issue . . . well again, there seriously is no point in us going back and forth on this one. You weren't amused. Others were. And it is highly unlikely either will convince the other to change their mind. And that's okay!

Lastly, why does everyone else get to be referred to by their handle, but I get to be my real first name? Can't I be Toothpaste? I like being Toothpaste. It's minty fresh, or sometimes cinnamon-y. But I don't use that kind. I tried once the whitener one, but the baking soda flavour totally turned me off. . .

badducky
04-10-2009, 08:56 AM
I refuse to call you Toothpaste, because that would be evil and wrong.

(Oh no! HandleFail! It's coming to a message board near you, Summer of '09!)

Cranky
04-10-2009, 09:04 AM
Toothpaste and I have gone around and around once before on the subjective humor thing, but I am in agreement with her here. It's because we've had this discussion before (in a different context) that I feel comfortable saying that, because she made the same point then and I agreed then as well that humor is subjective and that's okay.

I think everyone here does get that not everyone found #queryfail funny or even agree that it had some educational value. We don't have to all hold hands and sing kumbaya on this. Not even some agents agreed with it.

But that doesn't take away from the fact that some folks DID find it funny or educational, and I don't think there is anything wrong with them for finding it so, either. And I've been on the side where I was offended and upset, so I know very well what that feels like. At the same time, I have to give people the right to take away something else from an experience (or a piece of humor) that offends me.

I don't have to like it. Other people don't have to like it. And we don't have the right, imo, to browbeat people who disagree with us. They have a right to their opinion, same as we do.

And that's my two cents on the subject.

MacAllister
04-10-2009, 09:05 AM
Ohhhhh...badducky...you want Fail links? I can soooooo send you Fail links. Just be prepared to lose the next three months of your life.

badducky
04-10-2009, 09:08 AM
NO!

Seriously! It's 1AM in Atlanta, and I've got work in the morning!

I'm only awake at all because I lost three hours of work in a computer crash (that ate my BACKUP, TOO! Argh int he general direction of Bill Gates!)

aadams73
04-10-2009, 12:40 PM
Again, no amount of "frickin' get over it" will change the sense that many, many authors have that mocking doesn't help them. It often hurts, and turns people off from writing altogether. I'm a teacher and writer by profession, and I promise you there is no better way to lose a student than to mock him/her in the interest of "education." You may find it funny; they won't. Also, my use of "incredible" was perfectly appropriate, thanks.


I don't mean to be flippant, but honestly, if you're so sensitive that those comments turn you off writing then you're not cut out for this business. And if you can't read instructions then you're not cut out for this business(or pretty much any business).

Kathleen42
04-10-2009, 03:53 PM
Ohhhhh...badducky...you want Fail links? I can soooooo send you Fail links. Just be prepared to lose the next three months of your life.

*sniffle* I want fail links.

Calla Lily
04-10-2009, 03:55 PM
Last weekend I discovered that the LOLCats site has a whole row of tabs at the top now. *whimper* I spent three hours on the LOLcelebs tab and the Engrish tab. There's at least one Fail tab, too. Help!

badducky
04-10-2009, 05:21 PM
I should mention because it's come up in PM by people not PHeonixFury:

About student mockery - not every teaching scenario happens in a classroom, and not every classroom is an academic one.

In Basic Training, for instance, mockery is an important teaching tool.

In non-classroom settings - like, for instance Miss Snark, or Queryfail - quite a lot of people found the mockery of anonymous queries useful and helpful.

Many websites use anonymous mockery to teach people what is and is not appropriate behavior. You now those guys that used on-line mockery to "out" the problems they faced during their interactions with a call center, or a company? They are educating companies, beyond just that one, through mockery.

It is false logic to place the single, narrow teaching scenario of "an academic classroom" and apply those same rules as a universal.

Hope I cleared that one up for y'all.

ChaosTitan
04-10-2009, 08:17 PM
Why do the fun conversations always spawn when I'm away from my computer for the day?

Catching up and tossing out opinions...



As I am grateful to Absolute Write. Seriously, you guys are going in my acknowledgement section. So many things I know I absorbed bit by bit around here, and it meant I launched into the querying process feeling well-informed and half-way professional.

Ditto to Judg's entire post. And AW *is* in my acknowledgments. ;)


The difference between queryfail and agentfail is that while queryfail is directed at queries (the writing, not the person), agentfail is directed at people. It is much more personal and hurtful IMO.

Yes. It's something that I see commented upon time and again (and again and again....). Rejections are not personal, they are professional. They are rejecting a badly written letter, a boring concept, the wrong genre, a too-long word count, or any number of things that invoke "No."


I also get that some folks are frustrated by the lack of response to queries. Hell, I have unanswered e-queries from three years ago. Do I care now? No. Did I care a year ago, before I was agented or contracted? No.

Thing is, no one group will ever be satisfied. If all agents suddenly gave in and said "Okay, I'll respond to all queries, at the very least with a No," it won't be enough. People will start grousing because they want to know why the agent said "no."

Which is where (to me) queryfail came into play. This was the agent saying (yes, in a mocking and humorous fashion) WHY they are saying no. "No, you obviously didn't read our submission guidelines." "No, your query has half a dozen glaring spelling errors, so I tremble to see your manuscript." "No, my website clearly says I do not represent romance, so why are you sending me a frigging romance?" "No, your book is not the next Harry Potter, so stop claiming it will be!"

Methinks most folks really don't want to know the reason why they're being rejected.


Well, it is a bit different (not that I'm defending the whining). I regularly get unsolicited business offers but I don't really NEED the services. Agents need books to represent.

Only if the agents are actively building their client lists. Many agents read queries year-round, because they'll bend over backward to rep a really good book, if one happens to land on their desk. But that doesn't mean they need new clients or new books.

An agent's needs can be judged by doing a little research. For example, Colleen Lindsay is currently closed to submissions, and yet she still gets queries. These are all unsolicated queries, and she's blatantly said they're getting deleted unread. The only thing she needs right now are for agent-seeking writers to read her submission guidelines.



I am surprised that some people here are awfully willing to leap to the defense of a badly thought out exercise, so desperate are they to avoid even the impression of being in disagreement with a few (and only a few) agents,

Thank you for telling me why I'm "willing to leap to the defense" of these agents. I didn't realize it was because I was so desperate to not be thought of badly. :rolleyes:



I don't mean to be flippant, but honestly, if you're so sensitive that those comments turn you off writing then you're not cut out for this business. And if you can't read instructions then you're not cut out for this business(or pretty much any business).

QFT. This isn't directed at anyone in particular, but it needs to be said. Frankly, I'm ecstatic I didn't reach the stage I'm at five years ago. I was too sensitive about my writing, too quick to take things personally that just were not personal. I didn't take criticism well. I've grown a lot, especially after finding AW, and I'm able to see things in their proper perspective.

I don't know if queryfail and agentfail were good or bad things. But in the long run, both exercises got us talking. And if even one or two writers are able to learn something from all of this, and to fix up a query that might otherwise have gotten a quick boot, and eventually give us all one or two new amazing authors to enjoy...wasn't it kind of worth it?

Kathleen42
04-10-2009, 08:19 PM
For those, like me, who were looking for a transcript, the Chico Writer's Group has one here: http://www.spontaneousderivation.com/2009/03/09/all-of-queryfail-march-2009-in-html/

Cav Guy
04-10-2009, 08:55 PM
Personally I think both are a total waste of time. The power dynamic between agents and authors is nothing new...and in many ways it's same as between a teacher and his or her students. The student is responsible for reading the assignment and turning in good work, and the teacher is responsible for grading and evaluating that work and (when needed or possible) providing constructive feedback to make the next assignment better. Students who turn in crappy work should expect to fail, and teachers who publicly mock students should expect to be disliked and/or flamed. Such is life.

In so many ways it's a symbiotic relationship...we need agents, but they couldn't exist without authors. So I'm not especially inclined to deify either group. We're all people trying to make a living at the end of the day...and both xfail "projects" were stupid from that standpoint. Just sayin'...

Scribhneoir
04-10-2009, 10:40 PM
I haven't reached the point where I'm ready to query agents, so I have no personal war stories and no frustrations gnawing at my soul. However, I long ago decided that I would not query any agent who had a "no response=no" policy because I find that to be an unprofessional way to conduct business. <shrug> My opinion only, and one that I'm sure will not cause any agents to gnash their teeth in frustration.

Now that Nathan Bransford has revealed that it's also secret agent code for "not looking for new clients" I kind of feel it's also a slightly dishonest way to conduct business. If you're not open to new clients, don't be open to queries. It would save everyone a lot of time.

But I do understand that while they don't want new clients, they're also unwilling to take the chance of missing out on the next JK Rowling. I also understand that there's always going be a certain number of writers who don't follow the guidelines and would query in spite of the fact that the agent is not accepting queries. So agents take the easy way out -- keep the gates open, but ignore the queries that come through them. This is never going to change, no matter how many complaints are aired via forums like agentfail, so all writers can do is decide for themselves whether they want to approach those agents.

The agents who've responded to agentfail for the most part show their respect for writers every day on their blogs. Yet even they seem bewildered by the level of frustration writers showed on this issue, as if they truly don't understand why being ignored tends to generate anger rather than joy. Agents are busy, even form rejections take time, auto-responses are tricky, they explain. Fair enough.

But I have to wonder if agents would consider "no response=no" to be a professional business policy if they were on the receiving end of it. So, to any agent reading this, please tell me -- if the editors you submit your clients' manuscripts to suddenly announced that they would only respond if the answer was yes, would you just shrug and accept it because editors are busy people? Especially if this policy included no acknowledgment that your electronic submission was received, and no parameters telling you when silence becomes "no" instead of "haven't gotten to it yet"? Would you consider that professional? Not practical, not convenient -- professional. Just curious.

Esopha
04-10-2009, 11:53 PM
Another brief thought:

I think that agentfail, like queryfail, was meant to educate as well. After all, Bookends hosted it, and they're a lit agency themselves.

I think that both of them had a great capacity to educate, but that was mauled by poor diction a few people who had to use them as opportunities to bathe in vitriol and post unprofessional comments. Which happens a lot on the internet.

I am not surprised.

ChaosTitan
04-11-2009, 02:23 AM
So, to any agent reading this, please tell me -- if the editors you submit your clients' manuscripts to suddenly announced that they would only respond if the answer was yes, would you just shrug and accept it because editors are busy people? Especially if this policy included no acknowledgment that your electronic submission was received, and no parameters telling you when silence becomes "no" instead of "haven't gotten to it yet"? Would you consider that professional? Not practical, not convenient -- professional. Just curious.

I'm not an agent, and I do understand the point you're making with this, but you're comparing apples and oranges. Agents and editors simply don't DO the same things, so you can't just turn the tables like that and have the argument hold.

Agents receive hundreds of queries a week (I've seen some who say they can get up to two thousand in a single week) from prospective writers. Editors don't receive anywhere near that many pitches from agents in a single week. Agents do their homework--they know who to pitch their project to, they know the editor's guidelines for length and genre, they know who's actively looking for what. It's their job to know these things, so they can effectively pitch their authors to the right editors, and the editors can, in turn, request the material.

This is where your argument breaks down. Editors request to read these manuscripts, so ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a response will be given. Just like agents who request partial/full manuscripts will, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, reply to the author.

If agents started sending mass queries to editors that were badly written, poorly spelled, sent to the wrong house, not a genre the editor bought, way too long in word count, or ridiculously bad in their execution, and those same editors had inboxes overflowing with hundreds and hundreds of the same...maybe editors would have reason to start a "no response=no" policy.

#

Some seem to think it's a case of a few bad apples spoiling the barrel. More like it's a pile of hay hiding a couple of great needles. YMMV.

Twizzle
04-11-2009, 05:32 PM
Just like agents who request partial/full manuscripts will, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, reply to the author.



Let's be honest, the numbers are probably much worse than that. :( Never mind fail posts, personally, I've seen quite few comments about this round here in beware and ask an agent about agents not responding to requested material or taking a very long time to respond. Also, it's happened to me and those close to me. Not enough to get my panties in knots, but enough to know to suspect it's less than 99.

I also suspect that for every query that was used as an example of bad, a hundred more even worse were sitting in that agent's inbox.

I didn't participate, I didn't agree with either, but neither side lied as far as I can tell. All those things happened, and some of the things that were given as examples happen more frequently than either side seems to want to admit.

But smart agents and smart writers will use these 2 disasters to their advantage. There's opportunity in everything. They will go thru, look for what they're doing wrong, and attempt to change. After all, smart agents want the best writers to query them with the strongest projects. And smart writers will glean who to query and who not to query. So whether it was good or bad, ultimately someone will benefit from these events. It's just good business to do so, and publishing is after all just a business.

ChaosTitan
04-11-2009, 06:22 PM
Let's be honest, the numbers are probably much worse than that. :( Never mind fail posts, personally, I've seen quite few comments about this round here in beware and ask an agent about agents not responding to requested material or taking a very long time to respond. Also, it's happened to me and those close to me. Not enough to get my panties in knots, but enough to know to suspect it's less than 99.

I'll concede the numbers could be worse. I admit, I've been lucky in that every full or partial I had out received a reply at some point (although one partial did take ten months), so this is only my experience. But I won't count "long time" in the same category as "no response." A response is a response. :)

Scribhneoir
04-11-2009, 11:37 PM
I'm not an agent, and I do understand the point you're making with this, but you're comparing apples and oranges. Agents and editors simply don't DO the same things, so you can't just turn the tables like that and have the argument hold.

I agree it's not a perfect comparison, but it's as close as I could come up with. Yes, the editor/agent relationship is quite different than the agent/aspiring writer relationship, not least of all because editors recognize agents as professional colleagues and treat them accordingly. Agents all too often look at aspiring writers as an annoying but necessary evil and also treat them accordingly.

Will this perception ever change? No. Too many (mostly bad) writers vying for attention. Agents have all the power at that point and if they don't feel like answering all their business correspondence, they won't. All I hoped my question would do is maybe make an agent think a little more about the issue instead of brushing off the complaints as nothing more than unreasonable expectations. Then maybe they'd find that setting up an auto-response wouldn't be so burdensome after all.



This is where your argument breaks down. Editors request to read these manuscripts, so ninety-nine times out of a hundred, a response will be given. Just like agents who request partial/full manuscripts will, ninety-nine times out of a hundred, reply to the author.

This is where I hoped my little thought experiment would take root. Right now, agents get responses. I wanted them to imagine what it would be like NOT to get responses. Would agents be so accepting of the silence=no way of doing business if it was happening to them? Saying it never happens and never will happen because agents target their submissions kind of misses the point.

And, yes, I do realize that agents are innundated with queriers, most of whom run the gamut from competent-but-dull to illiterate-lunatic. That makes their job much harder than that of editors. I appreciate that. I just wanted to know if agents really consider "no response=no" to be professional or simply expedient.

I don't know . . . maybe it's just because I worked my way through school at a place where courtesy towards demanding hordes was taken very, very seriously, but I think even the illiterate lunatics deserve an auto-response rejection.

ChaosTitan
04-12-2009, 02:02 AM
Agent Ginger Clark has actually addressed the issue of Auto Responses, as well as a variety of other things in this post: http://gretchenmcneil.blogspot.com/2009/04/agentfail-response-from-non-failing.html

Wayne K
04-12-2009, 10:41 PM
Originally Posted by Judg
As I am grateful to Absolute Write. Seriously, you guys are going in my acknowledgement section. So many things I know I absorbed bit by bit around here, and it meant I launched into the querying process feeling well-informed and half-way professional.

I have to go along with this too. I started saying the same thing about AW as an acknowledgement soon after I got here.

MacAllister
04-12-2009, 10:48 PM
From Chaostitan's link: (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.

So I stopped responding, and made it very clear on my Publishers Marketplace page what my policy was.

As for an automatic response—that’s something I have considered doing. Then I remember that every so often, one of my clients will email me a question with a subject line saying, “Quick query for you.” I would rather they not get an automated response, treating them like an aspiring author.

I suppose I could just hit reply on every email, and paste in a form response, but—please see my earlier experience! Some stranger saying “screw you” or “Wow, you’re an asshole”….I try not to take that personally, but some days it would just really get under my skin.

I know that 90% of the people I would be replying to would behave professionally, but it’s that 10% that keeps me from amending my policy.

EditorialAnonymous (http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2009/03/queryfail.html) talks about a letter she received from Erin Murphy, on this same subject:

I have been queried via email by a man writing as [redacted], whose email ID says [redacted]--so I'm not really sure who he actually is. He has queried me at least once a month since November for an adult historical novel--the same novel in every query.

In November and December I sent him form rejections, which state clearly that I only represent children's books and outline my submission policy. After that, I just deleted his inquiries.

I just got another, and this time I sent him a firm reply asking him to remove me from his email list and stating how many times I'd heard from him already.

This is what I got back:

"I know you would like to be left alone. But you are a literary agent, and I have a job to do. And I do apologize for any future queries that you must receive.

"But until [my novel] is published, you will be queried."

I totally, totally get why some agents think "no response=no"--however imperfect--is the least horrible of the available evils.

Wayne K
04-12-2009, 11:52 PM
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.

I didn't think about this before. It does bother me when I get no response at all but I don't sweat it. It does make me wonder if they got it at all though. That happens.

people who write screw you or something like that, I would send them a "We took another look at your proposal but then we got your e-mail..."

C.J. Rockwell
04-13-2009, 12:23 AM
I haven't read either Agentfail or Queryfail, but having read the countless uproar on this thread, I have to say something, if only to work through my own frustrations.

I'm not going to pretend that I understand what agents and editors go through on a daily basis, and I repsect the hard work they do whether or not I wanted to be a writer. By that same token, I'm not going to pretend that they're not wannabe writers out there who make things harder for the serious writers harder because of their shenanigans.

I can only speak for what I know, and myself, however limited that is. It's still honest.

I take pride in doing everything in my power to make my work the best it can be. Through AW I've learned how vital it is to make a good first impression, to push my limits as a writer, to learn in the face of constant frustration, etc.

I've done my fair share of research on the publishing industry, learning everything I can. That said, it seems the more I learn, the more brokenhearted I feel about some of what I've learned.

It's easy to say something like, "Take the time you normally complain and make your book better" but I feel that blunt statement in some ways does more harm than good.

Why? Because it implies that we must throw away our feelings.

Most writers don't want to publish just one book and only one book. Many of us want to share tons more stories than that. But if it takes 30 years (Over a third of the average life expectancy) to get one book in the best shape possible, the chances of sharing more diminishes somewhat. Unless you're a super fast writer, plus an even faster editor of your own work, this is a problem.

Think of how many good writers have published one book every decade/half decade or so.

Think about the countless writers who died early in the lifetime, and only have a handful of books make it to the masses.

We have our whole life to achieve our dreams, to improve our skills, but as many songs, movies, and books constantly remind us, we don't have forever.

Unless someone develops a way we can live an extra 100 years without our bodies deteriorating, and maintain a 40 year old's vitality at the very least, there comes a point where we either give up out of frustration/old age, or because we nearing death.

Whether or not you believe in a God of any kind, I refuse to believe that our only lot in life is to work and suffer. Otherwise the only movies and books we'd see would be about post-apocolyptic turmoil.


If the only reason we live on Earth is to work, suffer, and die when our time came, why were given the ability to dream, to hope, to have emotions. If no one ever achieved their dreams, much of what's happened in our history would never have happened.

We have to survive to live, but survival isn't LIVING.

No matter how na´ve, childish, or immature this sounds, that's just the way I feel.

Medievalist
04-13-2009, 12:43 AM
We have our whole life to achieve our dreams, to improve our skills, but as many songs, movies, and books constantly remind us, we don't have forever.

Unless someone develops a way we can live an extra 100 years without our bodies deteriorating, and maintain a 40 year old's vitality at the very least, there comes a point where we either give up out of frustration/old age, or because we nearing death.

I understand that.

At the same time, to be blunt (and I'm not directing this at C. J. or anyone explicitly) some people really aren't ever going to be published. They don't write well enough. Most people who submit to publishers, agents, and editors, don't write well enough, or don't get story, or character, or English--they just don't.

I used to be a music major. I had years of lessons--keyboard and flute and various related instruments. I practiced, every day. For hours. I worked.

I sucked.

I really sucked. I realized it, finally, at the end of my junior year. I didn't have what it took in terms of the minimum skill level, and that thing called talent, to have a B.A. in music, and I never would.

I moved on.

C.J. Rockwell
04-13-2009, 12:59 AM
I moved on.

To what?

I only ask because many say that, but they never say what they moved on to.

There are only so many times you can go through countless broken dreams before you either-

1. Give up on ever having a dream come true.
2. Never stop trying.

For me, I've been through so many dreams before coming to writing, and if this doesn't pan out for me, I have no idea what else I could do.

In that sense, I can understand why many try for things they may not achieve.

Who wants to reach the end of their life and never did anything that-

1. Were good at
2. They loved

As someone important told me many times, It's that simple.

Twizzle
04-13-2009, 10:12 PM
But I won't count "long time" in the same category as "no response." A response is a response. :)

Definitely, agreed. I only included it in reference to those very long responses that people inevitably chalk up as nonresponses, only to find some gawd awful time later, surprise...

Medievalist
04-14-2009, 09:00 AM
To what?

I only ask because many say that, but they never say what they moved on to.



I switched at the end of my junior year to an English degree. My hope/goal/desire was to teach.

I'm writing for a living.

I loathe writing. It's too much like work.

HConn
04-23-2009, 01:01 AM
And please, please, PLEASE someone tell me the Xfail meme is about to expire and be replaced by something that doesn't use a verb as a noun-forming suffix.


"Oh, QueryFail, No!"