I learned yesterday that P&E's data is being used by this service. At present, P&E does not receive any payment for the use of its information. Of course, if they wish to contribute to the P&E defense fund, that would be appreciated.
Hi Dave, I'm the author of Querylyzer and I'll try and answer some concerns from this thread here. First off, I like your site and use it a lot. I'm sorry you're being sued, and it's something I'm prepared for myself which is why I've incorporated Querylyzer as a limited liability entity just in case things become untenable.
As for compensation regarding your information being used; as the P and E ratings being provided (I'm only capturing the Recommended and Highly Recommended ratings right now), you'll notice they are being provided as links back to your site (theoretically good for you) and as such not considered infringing activity of copyright infringement (see DMCA safe harbour rulings http://www.chillingeffects.org/dmca512/faq.cgi
But if you're embroiled in a legal battle right now with disgruntled literary agents/publishers, you and your lawyer are probably already well versed in these particulars.
If you really feel that strongly about these ratings being placed on Querylyzer, we can have a conversation about it, but it's just my opinion the more exposure you get for your site the better, and the more sites who recognize your ratings as substantial (I do), the more credibility P and E receives with the general public. Something to think about. Also, if the presentation is not in a manner you think is conducive to increasing traffic for P and E, that's something we can also talk about. I do like your site and will try and make you happy. You can reach me at [email protected]
As for some of the other concerns:
TOS - It's listed on the main page.
Permission to list agents - You don't need permission to publish contact information or anything considered 'A FACT' (ie publicly available names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses etc). Some guy in the States actually re-published all of the information held in his local White Pages and was not found in copyright violation.
Personalization : You can personalize queries as far as your address headers go, but the next release of querylyzer will have a drag and drop scripting mechanism that supports inserting into a query letter the titles that particular agent has represented. You'll be able to script certain agent details into the letter itself --- something like. "Having represented titles such as [TITLE1] and [TITLE2], <insert my novel> will be a good addition to your list." Stuff like that. Once I've completed importing all the previously published titles data into the DB and reorganized the query interface, this option will be available.
But speaking from personal experience, this level of personalization isn't really required. We had 3 beta testers use Querylyzer in its raw form (before it was a website), and the response rate was somewhere in the 3-5% range using simple agent headers. And this was with a bug in the original software that messed up some of the agents' contact information. We found that many agents, regardless of how badly we'd butched the format of the query letter, requested the manuscripts they wanted to see anyway.
One thing to wrap your head around Querylyzer is that it's s different mode of querying favoring quantity ahead of over personalization.
While there are many writers who will find the lack of personalization a deal breaker, there are many writers who've progressed to the cold query stage where it doesn't behoove them to spend hours and hours customizing letters that are being thrown out shotgun. But I do agree with what some of the writers have said - it's probably not a good first line attack when trying to get represented. Write your novel, personalize the hell out of your query letters for the agents you want, then, IF you get no love and find yourself shotgunning queries, load up querylyzer.
Further to personalization - again it's our experience using querylyzer that if an agent is interested in your material, they won't care if you send 5 pages when you're supposed to send 7 or 3, or none at all. Our beta testers composed query letters that were of roughly the same format and covered MOST literary agents requirements:
1. No attachments.
2. At least a low level of personalization (address header and salutation with the correct name)
3. Query letter itself.
4. Small writing sample of 5 pages.
What the proponents of personalization (using this term to describe a query letter where you get into the nitty gritty details of a literary agent's list) ignore as a feature of distribution is all of the currents and eddies that sometimes a query letter follows before it results in a phone call back to the author. For me personally, the agent who ended up representing me wasn't even on my distribution list, and the agent who forwarded my eventual agent my query didn't even represent fiction. Had I followed the process manually, my query would have never landed into the lap of the forwarding agent to begin with. So... something to be said for exposure.
Moreover, we found while testing Querylyzer that some agents who proclaimed themselves closed to queries and (if you didn't follow the rules of the website or use the website itself), were suddenly open to queries and their transmission format when they were highly interested in the material. Again, this is the advantage of distribution. More often then not, a writer will not send out that query letter if they think there is 0% chance of that query resulting in representation, but often that chance is actually greater than 0% when sending to these agents.
Another trick the beta testers employed in getting represented using Querylyzer was to (as abhorred this may sound to some writers) was changing the titles of their manuscripts, changing their names (writers do this all the time), and their e-mail account of origin so e-mail filters wouldn't pick up submissions that were rejected months ago (or have a harder time).
As the manuscript that got me represented was an older one, it had already been through the system, but after I changed the name and account of origin, it eventually found a home.
I can hear the gasps through the monitor, but remember, your goal is to get published, not make buddy-buddy with literary agents who could care less about you. The goal here is publication. PERIOD. If you're not doing absolutely everything in your power to get published, then you probably won't, especially in a world with millions and millions of writers all competing for the same shelf space. Remember, all it takes is one YES, and if you were to ask most unrepresented/unpublished writers if they'd trade 1000 nastrygram 'go to hell' rejection e-mails for that one one phone call, that trade would be made more often than not.
As for agents spotting a Querylyzer based query; not likely to happen. On the order screen, you specify an email account to use. Querylyzer doesn't sent out any emails itself, instead using a distributed approach. The software logs into an email account of your choice and generates the query letters from there so it's as if you had sent them. Because popular providers such as Gmail and Hotmail hide the IP address of the sender from the receiver, the email's origin is anonymous - or at least as anonymous as in that it came from you. Querylyzer also abides by all provider send policies, keeping its thresholds well under published limits. For example, Gmail allows 500 messages a day, Querylyzer caps its send rate at 300/day for this provider. You can monitor your job in the 'My Job's panel to see the current status of your job.
Duplicate Email boxes - One of the features I've yet to implement is a warning notifying the user that they're sending to the same e-mail box (ie [email protected]
). It's on the TODO list but for now, a user can simply sort their outbox by e-mail address and filter them out manually. Once a query has been sent to an agent, the date is recorded in their query list, so they can easily go back and find the agents they've yet to send a query to.
Integrity of the agent list - I don't have any literary agents on my list (or at least none to my knowledge) that aren't bona fide agents. If you see one that's a scam artist, let me know and I'll remove them from the list. I've also personally gone through the list and e-mailed each one with a bogus query letter to find out which e-mail addresses were valid. Moreover, the list is updated (almost daily) through an extensive system of bots that scour the net for literary agents' contact information and incorporate them into the list. And no, facts, including contact information is also NOT subject to copyright, therefore subject to reproduction and publication.
15 cents an email - Yeah, it costs. I'm a sympathetic guy when it comes to writers but the software behind Querylyzer is pretty sophisticated (Querylyzer also has the option of only sending queries during business hours) and if you compare the time it would take you to manually query every agent on the planet (if you elected to do this) vs how much your time is worth, then it's up to you to decide the value of the service. It won't be for some, I know, but for others it will be. I don't even want to know how much time I've spent over the years querying and when I set out to query one of my trunk novels, I wasn't going to sink all my evenings and weekends into doing it again - hence the software. But if you could take one of your trunk novels (something that's collecting dust and has no chance of publication) and snap your fingers and have a query letter/sample in the inbox of every literary agent known for $150 bucks while having those X hours back to yourself, then you'll find value in the service. If not, ok, I get it.
As for being lazy - ..... sort of, but it's a question of how much your time is worth. As a writer myself, I know what a pain it is to get time to write. You've got family commitments, work, god forbid a hobby other than writing, etc etc. Writers who can't find the time in the morning to get some work done often work in the wee hours when they're tired and grumpy and wondering how much work they could get done if actually at the peak of their mental game etc etc. Hey, been there, still there now.
As for my views on literary agents - these are well known. I find their requirement to the process as abhorrent as some would find Querylyzer, but writers have to acknowledge what they are told thousands of times a year by other writers - writing is a business. Agents are in the biz to make money, and that's absolutely fine, but the door swings both way too. I often frown on writers who come to these boards and talk about literary agents as if they're some kind of delicate spoiled child you can't offend, much less offer a letter of business association when they are in THAT business! (OMG did I offend that agent by sending them an email!? Did I follow their submission requirements EXACTLY? Do they have a big white board somewhere with all the names of the writers who've offended them and I'll never get a book published for the rest of my life OMG NOOOOOO!). Bleh. Fire off those queries! Let agents worry about their own sandbox.
Querylyzer is best used:
1. With trunk novels.
2. With new novels that have reached the cold-query shotgun stage.
3. With writers who simply don't have the time to spend hours and hours querying.
I can be reached at [email protected]
Dave email me when you get a chance.