There is one word that explains why women don't like to ask men out first. REJECTION. Women have to have the babies, men should at least have to deal with the rejection.
I've gotten more than my fair share for this book. See the latest letter
Thank you so much for sending the "N" Agency sample pages of THE LIST.
After a careful reading, we are sorry to say that we don't believe that we are the right agency for you.
You deserve an enthusiastic representative, so we recommend that you pursue other agents. After all, it just takes one "yes" and with so many different opinions out there, you could easily find the right match.
CRAP! I don't know what to do now. I have gotten some good feedback on the idea of the book. Do I send it out to the second list of agents? Do I rework this book and resend it to the original agents? How do I write that query letter? Or do I just give up on this book and hope I can write another one? Argh!
I was thinking about posting it chapter by chapter on my blog, getting feedback from you guys. But I want to maintain the copyrights. I don't want someone to steal the idea. Sigh.
Good luck with all your publishing endeavors.
Well, one of the agents that was looking at the first few chapters sent me a note saying that she'd pass on the project. Crap. She said I was selling the idea rather than telling the idea. Dude, I can cut the first chapter out. Give me a chance here.
Regardless, that's one less person who can help me publish this book. It kind of sucks the inspiration right out of me to write another.
Rejection, Yet Hope
I received another rejection in the mail. Again, a little 3x5 card with what equals a "thanks but you're not Sandra Brown" rejection. I hate that I don't even rate a letter. Grr.
However, the karma forces in the universe aligned to make up for the bad agent experience described below, and I got a request from an agent (and a blogger, but I'll protect their identity) asking to see more of my book. Although, the email does say that it may take up to two months to get back to me, though they try to be faster. (The response came from an email query that I sent in the first batch of queries a month or so ago) Finding an agent is definitely an exercise in patience and getting thick skin.
So I'm perturbed, but cautiously excited. I'm back up to a total of two agents who were savvy enough to see the potential in my work, with over half of my queries still unaccounted for. Both agencies show a lot of potential and really seem to want to work with their authors over a career, and not just a book. Neither, however, is located in New York. I'm not sure if that should matter or not, but I guess I'll learn as I go.
, query letters
Update on NY Literary Agency
Well, I responded in a most formal manner, very professional, asking if they could answer a few questions for me. I used a list that the AAR suggested a writer ask an agent, but modified it to apply to me.
I got a response today, which I won't include all of, but here's the gist.
We have seen these questions before and realize that you are 'copying and pasting' the questions to me. Here they are with my copy and paste answers.
There's no "Hello, Carmen. Thank you for your questions." Nothing civilized. Just a snippy response. Obviously, I wouldn't want to be treated that way by an agent that would be representing my work. Not only that, but they answered questions that I didn't ask. The one I asked that they didn't answer was "can you tell me the titles of books you've published in my genre?" Can you say sham? And I'm so frustrated that I was taken in.
I will be nice, however, and respond with a no thank you. Kill them with kindness.
Remember when I told you about the one agency that asked for my full manuscript to read? Well, I got an email today saying that they liked my manuscript and wanted to represent me. I then did a search on the agency, because as part of signing the contract, they wanted me to pay to have a critique done of my work. They can make a recommendation, or I could use a third-party of my choosing. Turns out, the critique company they recommend is one of their subsidiaries. All over the writer boards there are BEWAREs and STRONGLY NOT RECOMMENDED.
Well, crap. I fell into a scam. I did send them back some questions that the Author's Representative group suggested you ask any agent that offers to represent you. We'll see what they say, if anything. I'll keep you posted.
Because the agency isn't legit, I'll post their name so other writers can be helped.
Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would like to proceed by offering to represent you. We feel that your concept and writing thus far has potential and that if polished and presented properly, we can sell it. To take the next step, please let us take a minute to tell you a little bit about how we think and do business.
To take the next step, please read the information below and follow the instructions at the end of this email.
Sherry Fine - VP Acquisitions: New York Literary Agency
P.S. We apologize in advance for the length of this email. This is at the behest of our lawyers. They like it when we say it the same way every time. If this email appears truncated at the bottom, please let me know.
INCUBATING TALENT: We are willing to develop new, fresh talent.
We did see a few improvements are needed in your work, but don't worry, we receive very few 'ready-to-go' manuscripts. Most manuscripts that we receive need some level of polishing before we can submit them to buyers. Over the years, we've learned that it is worth our time and effort to do what it takes to develop new talent. We've learned that incubating new talent makes good business sense.
We'd hate to lose a good writer by not accepting someone who is willing to improve. There are very few literary agencies that will take the time to develop talent. Most barely return emails. We've answered every email you've sent us, and we've kept our promises regarding turnaround times. We hope that you will acknowledge that our level of communication and professionalism already far exceeds that of other literary agencies. We pledge this same level of professionalism and courtesy in all
subsequent communications should we work together.
HOW CAN WE TRUST EACH OTHER?
You don't know us, and we don't know you. We like your work, and hopefully so far, you appreciate that we have treated you professionally and efficiently. Yes, we use forms, but that's so that we have more time to answer your questions about specific problems or nuances. We are looking for authors that are reasonable in their expectations and in their own evaluation of their work. We don't want prima donnas.
If we were in your shoes, we believe you should be looking for a professional relationship with professional people who will ultimately benefit your writing career, whether your work is sold or not. We never promise a sale. However, we do promise that we will work with you on a professional basis and do what we can to promote you and your work to our buyers.
What do we mean by "Polish your work"?
We are very concerned about what we present to our buyers. At a minimum they
expect the mechanics of punctuation, grammar, spelling, and format to meet or exceed industry standards.
I think you can agree that your work needs some level of polishing. However,we don't think you should take just our word for it; we would like to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the improvements can be made.
This step is equal to an investor trusting a certified public accountant; if there is an independent review on the table, we can each relax and trust each other, and spend our time strategizing marketing, not arguing over whether the work is ready to present or not.
What we have learned over the years is that nothing is more invaluable than having an unbiased, critical review of an author's work as a roadmap for bringing the work to market. In writing circles this is called a critique. We want you to have a critique of your work. You might already have one, or you may need to get one.
HAVING A CRITIQUE PROTECTS YOU from unscrupulous agents. Having a critique protects US from egocentric writers who think their work is just fine like it is. If the critique says, "Green light--good to go" then we can start marketing immediately. If the critique says, "Some improvements can be made in grammar, punctuation, etc," then we can pause with you while those changes are made.
On and on, blah blah blah. (Slap my head) DOH!
, query letters
Old Hat and a Scare
Another one for the collection
Thank you for your interest in (agency and website). Please know that I appreciate and respect the time, effort and imagination you have put into your manuscript. I wish that time would permit me to respond to your work in a more personal manner, but the volume of submissions that I receive does not allow me to do so. I have read your query letter and brief synopsis and am sorry to write that I am declining further interest in this project. Please feel fre to query me with future work.
And then I got an email from the agency that wanted to see my full manuscript. Scared me to death to open it. Turns out, it was just an acknowledgement that they received my email and manuscript file. DON'T DO THAT! Ack. :)
Two More for the Collection
Two more SASEs came back to me in the mail this weekend, filled with wonderful little rejection letters. My writer friend tells me it's part of the game. I have to keep repeating that to myself over and over. :) Seriously, though, I'm really going to write a book with my rejection letters. I've never seen such drivel written on letterhead, unless you count the memos at my office. :)
Thank you for submitting your query to our agency and giving us the opportunity to consider your work. Unfortunately, in today's increasingly tough publishing market, we cannot offer you the support that you need for your project. Currently, we are cutting back on our client list and are extremely limited as to what type of fiction and non-fiction we will be pursuing.
Our limited time precludes us from recommending other agents or publishers more suitable for your book. But, for an excellent resource on finding an agent and publisher for your book, we recommend Jeff Herman's WRITER'S BUIDE TO BOOK EDITORS, PUBLISHERS AND LITERARY AGENTS (Prima, 1998)
Please do not allow this letter to discourage you. Many best-sellers have been passed on numerous times prior to being successfully published.
We wish you the best of luck finding an enthusiastic agent and publisher for your book.
Don't allow rejection after rejection to discourage me? Ok, that's not HARD or anything.
Because we receive a high volume of mail, we are unable to respond personally to each query. We appreciate your contacting us about your project, but it does not fit our need to expand our current client list.
We may not request more material because we are not taking on new clients in your genre at this time. We have a broad and balanced list and do not want to represent too many similar books. Perhaps you have written something we don't represent such as sci-fi, fantasy, horror, children's or young adult, sports, essays, scholarly subjects, poetry, cookbooks, gift books, coffee table books, short stories, war memoirs, stage playes or screenplays. Or, we may have recently accepted something that is too simliar, which is often the case with nonfiction. As a matter of personal prefernce, we do not choose to represent works with pervasive themes of physical, sexual or substance abuse, gratuituous vioulence or violation, or those with an unredeemably negative or dark done. It could also be that we just don't feel you are ready for publication yet and are too early in your career. It takes a long time to master the craft of writing - and even the greatest writers were once beginners themselves and received many rejections.
Of the thousands of query letters we receive every year, only about a dozen manuscripts a month are requested. From these, about ten new clients each year are accepted and their work sold to publishers. And even then we have received numerous rejections for writers who are now bestsellers.
We do wish you success in your publishing ambitions and regret the necessity of sending you this form letter response. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to represent you. Our website, has information that you may find helpful in pursuing publication in the future.
Whew! Could you just say "no thanks" please? This letter exhausts me. Plus, it has several mistakes in it (I typed as is), so obviously you are not the agent for me. It would help to have an editor that actually knew how to EDIT! Geesh. And it goes on and on and on and on. It may not be this, or it may not be that. I think they forgot
1. It may not be written by a human
2. It may be written by an alien
3. You are not Janet Evanovich
4. You are not Sue Grafton
5. You suck.
, query letters