Wednesday, June 01, 2011

An Agent's Work Is Never Done

I'm constantly amazed at the numbers I see coming from agents--how many queries they get, out of those how many partials or fulls they request, and how many new clients they sign on. It's remarkable, really.

For example, Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency received 120 queries last week. Of those, she requested manuscripts on, wait for it... none. Zero. Zilch. And going over her stats back through April, her figures are consistently the same: over 150 queries with zero requests for manuscripts.

Why?!? Why is it so hard to find representation? Well, it's a fair assumption that if you don't follow the agent's guidelines or send her (or him) something the agent doesn't represent, you're going to get nowhere fast. Agents don't want you to send them your rough draft--your manuscript should be so polished you can see your reflection in it. While most agents are willing and able to help you make that thing ready to sell, they don't want to have to correct your grammar, punctuation and spelling.

Also, take rejection gracefully. There are all kinds of reasons why an agent passes up your manuscript--it's not in a genre they represent, they just signed something very similar, the story isn't to their personal liking, etc. They all want something they think they can sell to an editor--if they don't sell books, they don't eat.

That's why doing your homework before you hit the send button is so important. This is a business. Treat it like one.

1 comment:

Colleen Love said...

I kinda feel sorry for agents! I've seen people say the rudest things. People have to realize a rejection isn't personal. It's business.
Anyway, I won't get started on people and their manners, or the lack there of... Good one, Sherrill! :)