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Old Hack
03-06-2013, 10:42 PM
Literary agent extraordinaire, Carole Blake, has written an article for Bang2Write (http://www.bang2write.com/2013/03/29-ways-not-to-submit-to-an-agent-by-carole-blake.html) in which she lists a few of the problems she often sees in submissions, and explains why they're problems.

There's an added bonus in the form of a letter from a disgruntled rejected writer, which might make you realise the standard of the slush pile.

The comments are good too, and Carole's taking part in the discussion.

Siri Kirpal
03-06-2013, 10:49 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Vote that this be stickied.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

mellymel
03-06-2013, 11:00 PM
I agree. Sticky this!

Chris P
03-06-2013, 11:13 PM
Haha! Very nice! I can see well-meaning but ill-informed "experts" advocating guerrilla (or gorilla) querying techniques.

More serious question about #7, and related to a misunderstanding I had in another thread. If the agent passes on project #1, does that mean she gets crossed off my list for project #2 unless she's stated I could send other work? I know it would be bad form to send an unsolicited query for project #2 the next day, but I can't believe a "no" once means "no not ever."

Nekko
03-06-2013, 11:18 PM
Thanks Old Hack!
Great advice.
Read some and thought "duh, who would do that?", I have bookmarked the link for future reference. (Need to follow rules number 5&6 first!)

Old Hack
03-06-2013, 11:22 PM
Haha! Very nice! I can see well-meaning but ill-informed "experts" advocating guerrilla (or gorilla) querying techniques.

Funny you should say that.

When I was still a full-time editor I once received a banana in the post. A few days later, I received a photo of a gorilla from the same person.

When their ms arrived a few days after that, I was already primed to reject it.

Kayley
03-06-2013, 11:33 PM
More serious question about #7, and related to a misunderstanding I had in another thread. If the agent passes on project #1, does that mean she gets crossed off my list for project #2 unless she's stated I could send other work? I know it would be bad form to send an unsolicited query for project #2 the next day, but I can't believe a "no" once means "no not ever."

I read it as "don't send the query letter again for the same project", not "don't every query me again." I could be wrong with that interpretation, though.

Chris P
03-06-2013, 11:43 PM
Funny you should say that.

When I was still a full-time editor I once received a banana in the post. A few days later, I received a photo of a gorilla from the same person.

When their ms arrived a few days after that, I was already primed to reject it.

Good thing they gave you warning. Hate to have a bad query take you by surprise.

Chasing the Horizon
03-06-2013, 11:46 PM
More serious question about #7, and related to a misunderstanding I had in another thread. If the agent passes on project #1, does that mean she gets crossed off my list for project #2 unless she's stated I could send other work? I know it would be bad form to send an unsolicited query for project #2 the next day, but I can't believe a "no" once means "no not ever."
I'm sure #7 just means not to send the same project more than once. After all, if we couldn't query the same agents on our next project, those of us who query widely would be completely screwed because we already queried every reputable agent in our genre on our last book.

Chris P
03-06-2013, 11:57 PM
I'm sure #7 just means not to send the same project more than once. After all, if we couldn't query the same agents on our next project, those of us who query widely would be completely screwed because we already queried every reputable agent in our genre on our last book.

I figured so. That would shorten my list CONSIDERABLY.

kkbe
03-07-2013, 12:34 AM
I'd add to that list, "Don't query until you've run your QL through the gauntlet, aka QLH." Doing so would probably make most (if not all) of those 'don'ts' moot.

Heck, maybe that s/b #1. :)

Susan Littlefield
03-07-2013, 12:42 AM
Literary agent extraordinaire, Carole Blake, has written an article for Bang2Write (http://www.bang2write.com/2013/03/29-ways-not-to-submit-to-an-agent-by-carole-blake.html) in which she lists a few of the problems she often sees in submissions, and explains why they're problems.

There's an added bonus in the form of a letter from a disgruntled rejected writer, which might make you realise the standard of the slush pile.

The comments are good too, and Carole's taking part in the discussion.

It's all common sense. I can't even believe anyone would do the things she says not to do, but they must. :)

Snowstorm
03-07-2013, 01:12 AM
Thank you for posting this list, Old Hack. I just can't comprehend some people!

Quantum1019
03-07-2013, 02:23 AM
It's all common sense. I can't even believe anyone would do the things she says not to do, but they must. :)

Agreed. It would never occur to me to do any of those things. Writing/ publishing is a business. I wonder what the total amount of time is per year that agents waste dealing with childish stunts and silly shenanigans when they could be evaluating serious queries from writers who know how to act like adults.

Expat-hack
03-07-2013, 08:05 PM
I'm just surprised that would-be-clients could find her at parties. I'm not invited to parties where there are literary agents in attendance. (Probably a good thing!)

Axordil
03-07-2013, 08:31 PM
Along with some of the commenters, I thought the under-the-bathroom-stall-door was urban legend...oh dear.

Old Hack
03-08-2013, 12:11 AM
I'm just surprised that would-be-clients could find her at parties. I'm not invited to parties where there are literary agents in attendance. (Probably a good thing!)

Carole is a party animal. And many of the parties she goes to are thrown by writers' organisations like the RNA, which has parties full of editors, agents and publishers.

If there's a good writers' organisation or conference where you live, which focuses on the genre in which you write, it will almost certainly be worth joining, and attending some of the functions.


Along with some of the commenters, I thought the under-the-bathroom-stall-door was urban legend...oh dear.

Sadly it's not. If you look for me in the comments-thread to the article I linked to, you'll see my own version of that story.

wampuscat
03-08-2013, 12:21 AM
Sticky!

itsmary
03-08-2013, 12:22 AM
I'd add to that list, "Don't query until you've run your QL through the gauntlet, aka QLH." Doing so would probably make most (if not all) of those 'don'ts' moot.

Heck, maybe that s/b #1. :)

This is probably the best advice. (Or if you don't submit to QLH, at least have someone who doesn't know you critique it.) You can follow every generic, common sense rule on querying and still not get anywhere if your query isn't enticing.

wampuscat
03-08-2013, 12:48 AM
This is probably the best advice. (Or if you don't submit to QLH, at least have someone who doesn't know you critique it.) You can follow every generic, common sense rule on querying and still not get anywhere if your query isn't enticing.

Not to mention QLH often points out weaknesses in the MS that weren't noticed by the author or betas.

Ken
03-08-2013, 01:02 AM
27. Do NOT slip your synopsis under the door of the ladies loo I am occupying. It happened. Once. I suspect that woman will never do it again.

... wonder what Carole did? :-)

Axordil
03-08-2013, 07:24 AM
... wonder what Carole did? :-)

Were I in that...position...the temptation to crack wise about the manuscript's appearance coinciding providentially with the TP running out would be strong.

Old Hack
03-08-2013, 11:27 AM
You could always ask her in the comments-thread following her article.

shaldna
03-08-2013, 04:28 PM
There's an added bonus in the form of a letter from a disgruntled rejected writer, which might make you realise the standard of the slush pile.



The language pattern and terminology used in this letter marks it out as someone from my neck of the woods. Oh the shame.

Ken
03-08-2013, 05:09 PM
... whatever it was it was justified.
What was that writer thinking?

Not sure if I'll post the question.
Kinda shy about that sort of stuff.
But I will check out more of the site.

Good tips in the linked to one here.

(That's one possiblity, Axordil :-D

Ashwood
03-09-2013, 04:04 AM
Oh man! That letter from the 'children's book' author had me in stitches. Although I was cringing through most of list (who on Earth are these people?!), it's super informative! Thanks for sharing!

JulianneQJohnson
03-09-2013, 04:49 AM
Thanks for posting that article, it was hilarious! I can't imagine doing any of the odder things, but I know when people get desperate to be noticed they can do some crazy things.

Dreadful Romantic
03-09-2013, 05:20 AM
I've read an anecdote from an editor who was approached while on vacation--inappropriate, of course, but still not as low as slipping something under the door of the bathroom!

thehundreds
03-10-2013, 01:59 AM
Oh man! That letter from the 'children's book' author had me in stitches. Although I was cringing through most of list (who on Earth are these people?!), it's super informative! Thanks for sharing!

Seriously. My fear is that for every hard working, aspiring writer who tries to act professional, there's one of these people. Scary stuff!

S.P. van der Lee
03-12-2013, 02:01 AM
Thanks for the list! This helps me a lot :D

Donna Pudick
03-14-2013, 05:07 PM
Number 6 is my favorite beef. A client who continues to revise a ms, even after it's been submitted to several editors, drives me mad.

mdgreene50
03-14-2013, 05:13 PM
kinda sets one to thinking... Could a query letter be so bad that an agent just had to see the MS for a good laugh?

Not a goal I aspire to, BTW.

Phaeal
03-14-2013, 09:19 PM
Along with some of the commenters, I thought the under-the-bathroom-stall-door was urban legend...oh dear.

I think the right response would be to tear up the offering and flush it. If the writer was hanging around outside, you'd then say, pleasantly, "Oh, I took care of that thing for you."

Donna Pudick
03-15-2013, 12:40 AM
Not putting any I.D. on an attached submission is a bad thing. Happens a lot. One more step for an agent to do before passing the ms on to readers.

Windcutter
03-15-2013, 03:09 AM
Read some and thought "duh, who would do that?"
Precisely my thoughts. :)

I wonder how many queries are horrible or like this, and how many are just meh. Professional, clean, correctly done, but meh. Somehow it seems like the worst fate for a writer.

Old Hack
03-15-2013, 11:29 AM
If you have a look at Slushkiller, on Making Light (I think there's a link in our Publishing Resources room) you'll find a breakdown of the problems usually found in the slush pile. It's very good.

Wilde_at_heart
03-15-2013, 06:41 PM
It's all common sense. I can't even believe anyone would do the things she says not to do, but they must. :)

Exactly. Part of me suspects that the people who need this sort of article probably won't be the ones reading it...

Eliza azilE
03-16-2013, 08:25 PM
This is amusing, but does anyone know of a place where the stupid, unprofessional things agents do are listed?

JessH
03-16-2013, 09:54 PM
#19 especially, but I read the entire list. Wow . . . persistence isn't always a good thing. Who follows someone into a bathroom? The only thing that might get you is a restraining order!

Old Hack
03-16-2013, 10:11 PM
This is amusing, but does anyone know of a place where the stupid, unprofessional things agents do are listed?

Here's a thread you might like (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=28961).

You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder where agents are concerned.

WriterTrek
03-19-2013, 04:48 AM
Heh, I don't think I'd have considered doing any of those things, so I guess that puts me (and all of you) ahead on on a curve that I didn't even know existed!

nkkingston
03-20-2013, 10:24 PM
Exactly. Part of me suspects that the people who need this sort of article probably won't be the ones reading it...

A lot of them look to me like it's probably not net-savvy people submitting. Things like not having your own email address, for example, or thinking gimmicks are a good idea (because no one else has ever done that ever). Some will be the result of bad advice, but I think a lot are the result of guesswork because they don't even know what they need to look for to find any advice in the first place.

GypsyKing
03-22-2013, 06:04 AM
After reading that all I can say is...

Saints bless all agents. Preferably with whiskey.

xamich
03-22-2013, 06:07 AM
I'd add to that list, "Don't query until you've run your QL through the gauntlet, aka QLH." Doing so would probably make most (if not all) of those 'don'ts' moot.

Heck, maybe that s/b #1. :)

Hah! Yes. I'm guilty of this with five before my brain rapped some sense into me. Now I'm waiting patiently to put my QL through QLH and wincing when I get a form rejection.