“It’s not right for us at this time.”
“I didn’t connect with the voice the way I’d hoped.”
“We’re not looking for books in that genre.”
The publishing industry has many rules and guidelines, lots of contradicting advice, and often polarizing opinions. I empathize with you writers. I can see how all this information buzzing about the internet is making things simultaneously more accessible yet more confusing.
- Whose advice do you take?
- How can you be sure X website has the most up to date information?
- What does that rejection really mean?
- Does the transparency on social media sites really help you query agents?
With more knowledge comes more questions. It was easier five years ago when you could pick up a copy of the Guide to Literary Agents, circle your agent selections, and send out your queries in the mail. Granted, every agent had different guidelines then as we do now, but it was a bit more straightforward. You would get a call if an agent was interested or you’d get your material mailed back to you with a form rejection letter 1-6 months later.
Things have gotten more complicated with some agents taking only e-queries or only paper queries, some agents have you fill out a template form on their website and more. Some agents engage you on email, some on the phone. With the current transparency of many agents and agencies on Twitter, Facebook and their websites there is more information to process and wade through. Don’t feel overwhelmed, we’re just trying to help you target your queries more accurately to get a better success rate.
Benefits of querying in the digital age:
- Up to the minute publishing deal information via Publisher’s Weekly, Publisher’s Marketplace and more
- Clear guidelines on every agency’s website that are up to date
- Websites like ‘Preditors & Editors’ that let you know who has shady business practices
- Networks of querying writers like yourself
- Finding critique partners over the internet that don’t limit you to in-person groups
- Instant feedback from agents and editors via email
- Agents and editors on Twitter constantly handing out great, free information about what we’re looking for and what doesn’t work for us
With information comes power. Use it to your advantage: wade through the volume to find the important facts; be the journalist of your career; evaluate your sources of information; learn the publishing industry from the outside; and take everything with a grain of salt.
Holy Grail of querying information? Agency’s websites. These are the facts, the rest is just hearsay.