Newbie Agent Drowns in e-mail! Full Story and Film at 11!

As the news of my being crowned an agent spreads, the influx of queries to my in-box is increasing at an alarming rate. I’m not sure whether to dance the happy dance and open a bottle of champagne or run crying into my room and hide my head under a pillow. In the comic book of my life I hear the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.” But I’m not Spiderman and in my misfiring memory somehow it’s James Earl Jones’ voice saying that phrase, which makes no sense at all. And then for no explicable reason I can hear Spock’s dying words, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” But what the f%@kΒ  does any of this have to do with writing or querying me or finding an agent or improving your craft? Why are you reading this blog anyway? Are you my friend? Are you my father? Did I guilt you into following me? I’m sorry I don’t have time to give encouraging and constructive criticism to all the nice people to whom I’m sending rejections. I hope they know it’s not personal. I’m trying to pick one person each day to write a kind, encouraging note to, when I reject their work. When I ask for a revision and resubmission I really mean it. When I say it’s not right for me it’s because it’s not right for me, whether that has to do with it being poorly written or not a genre I read or needing more work than I can help with or just not my cup of tea. Dear blog followers, I must go now. I just heard the ping! of another query dropping into my mailbox.

Do you believe there is such a thing as constructive criticism or is it all just criticism to you? How many unread e-mails are in your inbox?


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10 responses to “Newbie Agent Drowns in e-mail! Full Story and Film at 11!

  1. Linda – You are the red flag and the writers are the bulls rushing into your email box. I like that you have a goal of writing one personal and encouraging note a day. Considering how many queries you can get in a day, that’s a huge bonus to the person who receives it. I completely believe in constructive criticism. If you want something bad enough, checking your ego at the front gate is imperative to making your writing, your art better.

  2. D’accord, Rhona. Now that Chris Sambuchino has spread the go-tell-it-on-the-mountain good news, da support group has her back.

  3. Chere Linda,

    “Imagine for a moment that you’re a literary agent. It’s 11 am, and your assistant has just delivered the pile of query letters from today’s mail. It’s got to be at least 100 letters. This happens every day, and today you’ll get over 100 new email queries as well. You read 52,000 queries per year, and in all that material, you’re hoping to find a few good new projects….Out of 100 queries, there may be two possibilities. Not bad for an hour [whole article explains how to DO IT ALL in one hour!], and who knows, maybe you’ve just discovered the Next Big Thing.

    And that’s why you love what you do; the possibilities are endless.”

    — James C. Vines, NY literary agent
    excerpted from Making the Perfect Pitch by Katharine Sands

    Keep on truckin’,

  4. Stefanie Lipsey

    Congratulations, Linda on your new position! You are kind to write positive comments to your writers. I do believe that constructive criticism is essential to growth. My inbox? I have 223 unread emails. The dishes and laundry have to get done, my kids need to be driven around town, but most emails can wait.

  5. Rhona

    The Mystery of Agenting. . .

    87 unread in my inbox. Half of which I will never read. Despite your constant protestations to the contrary, you are a very nice, kind person! Own it!

    Now on to the real meat of the matter: how many mountains have been obliterated in the search for coal, let alone diamonds and gold? Your hunt for gems is at least environmentally friendly, and you’re contributing something valuable to society!

    Not enough?

    There’s a great line repeated a few times in the movie ‘Shakespeare in Love’ that applies to your current dilemma (for ‘theatre’ read ‘publishing’):

    Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
    Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
    Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
    Hugh Fennyman: How?
    Philip Henslowe: I don’t know. It’s a mystery.

    It will all turn out all right! πŸ˜‰

    • I’m really not as nice as you think. You’d be shocked. I curse like a muther fucker. I have an internal lambast-o-meter that’s off the charts. And I have no patience for… well, for anything. All that “niceness” is a cover for the cranky curmudgeon that I truly am. Ask my husband.

      • Rhona

        The plain truth is: if you were as horrible and mean as you say you are, you wouldn’t be worrying about those queriers! I bet you a pound to a penny, I could swear you and any team of sailors you may chose at your convenience, that I can swear you all under the table!

        And as for the opinion of husbands. . .