Recently, a follow blogger talked about the challenges and stillness associated with querying literary agents in January. But I find that no matter when you do it, this is a cold and lonely process that mainly results in either no response or a very late and canned note saying something like “unfortunately, this piece is not for us . . . have a nice day 🙂 ”
This agent query business is a corrosive experience that can melt any would be author down to the bones. It works mainly by sending short query emails (or snail mail) to agents carefully selected based on that person’s indicated interest, prior work, tweets and blogs. The amount of information provided varies depending on the agent’s submission instructions that yo-yo between a short query to a more complex submission that could also include a synopsis, a bio and one or more sample chapters. Generally, I’ve been told that one should only send out a few submissions then wait patiently by the computer for a response before sending out another round. To say the least, in this day and age of instant gratification and short attention spans, this labor intensive process seems rather outdated.
A new way must be found to rattle the agent’s cage, to enable your work to rise up to the top of his or her slush pile. Matter of fact, you don’t even want to be in that garbage heap! You want a flash of light to jolt the agent’s world, to bring your work to the forefront long enough to make the agent want to see more. Of course, your work must be spic-and-span.
This new method may piss them off. But that constructive conflict is needed to put your work in center stage just long enough for the agent to see the shine of your work. What do you have to loose? What’s the difference between no response, an indifferent agent rejection and an annoyed agent rejection? But, having been stirred, that agent may see the golden light of your work and forget all about their ruffled feathers.
Speaking of gold, I’ve observed that book publishing today is much like the 1848 California gold rush. Anyone could jump in. But back then, the only ones who made money were the ones who sold the shovels. It’s time to change the rules.