QueryFail/AgentFail/etc?

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MacAllister

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There's a brief list of links, 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 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

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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
 
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Cranky

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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

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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.
 

Kathleen42

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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

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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 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.
 
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WendyNYC

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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

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I have no idea what you people are talking about, but I thought the last sentence was masterful Mac.
 
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Mr Flibble

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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

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... 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

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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

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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, 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

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AgentFail is a BlogFail combined with a TwitterFail.

QueryFail was fun, though.
 

Exir

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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.
 

NicoleMD

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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
 
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