Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Take it Personally...

This morning, literary agent Rachelle Gardner posted a must-read article for those querying writers who are getting fed up with agent responses-- or lack thereof-- to their work. It basically boiled down to this:

"Vent about your frustrations, but please, please, please: Refrain from making every complaint a criticism of agents."
At the risk of branding myself a suck-up or worse, I believe Gardner when she explains just how busy the average literary agent is. Query letters alone must take up an inordinate amount of time for what amounts to a fairly thankless head-ache of a task-- something I think we can all agree on.

But if literary agents really didn't care, there wouldn't be so many of them blogging about their experiences, and about what makes them keep reading a query letter or a submission. Agent blogs are my lighthouse, the flame that guides me through the querying process. The operative word being "guide"-- I take their word as guidelines, not Gospel, and it has helped me to craft my queries to where I have about a 20% success rate. Can't argue with results. And I get most of my information about what's happening in the publishing industry from agent blogs, too.

Just in case you've missed a few, here's a short list of agents who blog, which is by no means exhaustive, but these are the ones I check the most regularly.

Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency
Nathan Bransford of Curtis Brown
Jessica Faust of BookEnds, LLC
Jennifer Jackson of Jennifer Jackson Literary Agency
Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency
Janet Reid of Fine Print Literary
Kate Shafer-Testerman of KT Literary
Jenny Rappaport
Jill Corcoran

There's also a Blog Roll here on the Agent Query website, which is another invaluable resource for learning about a particular agent's likes and dislikes. After all, if you send off your query and a writing sample, and things go well, you could be in a serious relationship with this person for some time. Isn't it worth getting to know them a little before hand?

But just remember-- if they choose not to begin that relationship with you, it's not personal.

So perhaps as a gift to them, we could be a little gentler on literary agents this holiday season. That means no querying NaNo novels in December, folks! ;) And even if you've had a bad experience with a particular agent, remember they're all individuals who deserve our respect.

Happy Holidays, Literary Agents!

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