While the majority of writers appear to be genuinely grateful for agents, others seem less enthused. I’ve read blog posts where agents are put right up there as Satan’s right hand man or woman.
They sit back in their office on the 32nd floor of a Manhattan high-rise, grab a cup of coffee and then mull over a newspaper for an hour or so. The phone rings, but they surely won’t answer it since they’re too consumed with the happenings on Page Six. Emails ding away in their inbox, but they don’t bat an eye–they’re too busy setting fire to your query letter while toasting marshmallows in the conference room with their colleagues. They forward your email to other agents in their office and mock your storyline until it’s time to place the lunch order.
Literary Agents aren’t sitting back wasting the day away thinking of how to ruin your career before it begins. They don’t have time. They make money if your book sells. I imagine them to be more like the judges on American Idol, sifting through the hundreds of thousands of hopeful contestants until they find their top 12. It’s a tough job, but someone has to go home unhappy.
On the bright side of this analogy, the people who made it to the top 24 are great singers (writers), they just need some more polishing.
If you send out a query letter that doesn’t follow the format, how can they make a split second decision regarding whether or not your manuscript will follow the format? Is that a chance they are willing to take while sorting through the other 300 query letters that came in this week? Probably not.
Most importantly don’t be discouraged. Keep improving your query letters and keep sending them out to agents who rep your genres. If you get a rejection, pick yourself up-brush yourself off and try it again. Don’t send a nasty follow up to the agent that rejected you either. It may feel satisfying for a second, but it’s just bad karma in the end. Send them happy thoughts and move on; you’ll feel better playing nice. Like my mother always says, you catch more flies with honey.
I don’t know about you, but I’m going to think of my agent as my best friend or partner in book selling crime. The Huck Finn to my Tom Sawyer and not the Darth Vader to my Luke Skywalker. XO