Tag Archives: Agent Query

Query Quiz: What Gets an Immediate Deletion vs an Email Rejection?

imagesI’m in a bad mood. But I’ve made a commitment to myself to try to blog weekly. So. Here’s a quiz. Doing which of these things will have me just delete your query unanswered, versus me sending you a curt email? Answers are below.

  1. Send me a query with an attachment
  2. Query me with multiple projects
  3. Query me on Facebook Messenger
  4. Query me with a genre I don’t represent
  5. Query me with an age level I don’t represent
  6. Add me to a cc list with a bunch of other agents
  7. Get my name wrong or do a Dear Sir/Madame or To whom it may concern
  8. Send me a query that, if printed out, would go on for a few pages
  9. Re-query me with something I recently rejected
  10. Query me even when I’m closed to all queries
  11. Send me a query to an email other than my querylinda email
  12. Query me when I’m closed to queries, except for post conference, for a conference over a year ago, unrequested.

untitledOk, here are my responses: 1,6,7,9,10 all just get deleted, unanswered.

 

imgresThe others get curt responses, such as: “All queries should go to my querylinda@ email address” and “I only represent children’s literature” and “Sorry, but I really am closed to queries.”
imgres-1But just so you know, here’s what goes on in my head:

  1. Delete, mother fucker! Bwa ha ha!
  2. Why? Why would you do this? Why don’t you know not to do this?
  3. Really? Just. Really?
  4. You clearly don’t know anything about me. Ugh!
  5. Why? Why don’t authors do their research?
  6. Another delete! Yes! Yes! Bwa ha ha!
  7. What, the actual, fuck? Delete.
  8. Skim, skim, skim, skim.. sigh… form rejection.
  9. I can’t even. Delete.
  10. Delete. Just delete.
  11. How would someone think this is ok? Why would they think they’re special?
  12. Holy moly. Really?

Ok. So, I’m sorry I’m blogging while grumpy. I shouldn’t do that. But I haven’t actually given you any misinformation. I’m sure I’m not the only agent who’s thought these things. And I’m sure there are much nicer people out there than I. But I know you guys count on me for being a straight shooter. And I know you guys know I sometimes lack a filter. So. There you have it!

For the record, I am currently closed to all queries, except for the Open Call to Muslim Writers (who are not exempt from having to follow my submission guidelines).

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Literary Agents: 10 important things to know

Noun

helping profession ‎(plural helping professions)

  1. A profession that nurtures the growth of or addresses the problems of a person’s physical, psychological, intellectual, emotional or spiritual well-being, including medicine, nursing, psychotherapy, psychological counseling, social work, education, life coaching and ministry.

vintage-nurse-phone-imageDid you notice that literary agent isn’t listed? Newsflash! That’s because those who work in publishing are not in the helping professions.

I recently got a query that said, “I have no idea what to do next! Help!” I wish I had a rational response to that. I wish I could brush it off, knowing the writer is just naive and ignorant as to how the publishing industry works. I wish I was a kinder, more patient reader of queries. I could, and did, delete the email.

I’m sure most of you who are reading this blog post commiserate with me, and are shaking your heads and tsking appropriately. Because obviously none of you would ever put something like that in your query letter. You are all educating yourselves about the industry, as evidenced by doing things like reading blogs about writing and publishing. Nevertheless, I’d like to give you some information about literary agents and the procuring of one:

  1. The job of a literary agent is to sell manuscripts to editors, as well as broker sub rights deals (e.g. rights for foreign, dramatic, audio, merchandise, etc.)
  2. Agents get paid when they sell something; some agents also have a salary from their place of employment; most don’t.
  3. Some agents give editorial input to their clients; some don’t. It’s not required.
  4. Agents are regular people, so they can fall anywhere on the “nice” spectrum, from kind and nurturing to nasty and awful.
  5. You might become friends with an agent, but that’s separate and different from the agent/author relationship
  6. If you are un-agented and looking, don’t take it for granted when you have an agent’s attention and interest.
  7. Most agents aren’t all full of themselves and hoity toity, we’re just super busy (and perhaps, like myself, lacking patience).
  8. Most agents are book people who may or may not have the best social skills (see numbers 4 & 7, above)
  9. The primary job of a literary agent is to take care of the clients they already have. As such, responding to queries often isn’t on the top of the priority list.
  10. When interacting with literary agents be professional and keep your fingers away from the bars of the cage.

I’m happy to answer any questions in the comments section below. Here on the blog I am available to help people who are just learning the do’s and don’ts of the industry. I would say that there are no stupid questions, but I’m just not so sure about that any more. (Just kidding. Ask anything.)

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What I’m Currently Looking For

il_340x270.457543657_n4i3Non-fiction: I’m not currently taking on new non-fiction projects.

Memoir: I’m not currently taking on new memoir/narrative non-fiction projects.

Short fiction/Essays/Screenplays: I don’t represent these.

Picture books: I like them quirky, offbeat, and funny. If it’s going to be sweet, make sure it’s not saccharine. If it’s going to teach a lesson, it shouldn’t be didactic and preachy. If you use rhyme, have the rhyme serve the story, not the other way around. If you don’t know the difference, it’s probably not a good idea to send it to me. If you’re not an illustrator, don’t include pictures or illustrator notes (unless they’re integral to understanding your story).

Middle grade: As with everything I’m looking for, I’d like to get a story I’ve never heard before or an old story told in a new way.  I like boy main characters and strong girl characters. Yes to historical. Yes to realistic contemporary. I’d like to get a great MG scifi. Fantasy’s ok but  I’m not partial to portal fantasy or “found an amulet that takes us to a new world.” I’m so tired of nerds overcoming bullies (in fiction, not real life). Please don’t compare yourself or your work to Roald Dahl. You’re not and it’s not. It’s a rare story featuring animals that I’m drawn to, but if yours is extraordinary I’ll take a look. I like nerdy MG mysteries (think Blue Balliett and Ransom Riggs).

Young adult: Basically the same as MG. I’m not a “gritty and urban” lover. I’m the wrong person for sex and drugs and violence and abuse, so if it’s dark, have it be dark for other reasons. The dystopian ship has sailed (as has paranormal romance) so unless you’re bringing something totally new to that conversation, don’t send it to me. I’m pretty bored with “and then she/he finds out she’s/he’s got to save her/his “kind.” I do like retellings of myths, fairytales and legends. Think Malinda Lo’s ASH or PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS (which is MG but you get my point, right?), but put a new spin on it and find something not yet done. How about a feminist tilt? Think MISTS OF AVALON for teens.

Adult: Yes, same as YA and MG! What I don’t represent: thrillers of any sort; most mysteries; anything overtly/covertly pushing any religious point of view. Fantasy? Yes, but again, no portals or amulets. Sci-fi? Yes, but low on the sci part. I’m not as smart as you think I am. I like family sagas. I like historical fiction where famous historical figures show up (think Barbara Kingsolver’s THE LACUNA or SEX WARS by Marge Piercy). I like magical realism (think Alice Hoffman’s PRACTICAL MAGIC or Sue Monk Kidd’s THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES). I like most of the books on this Goodreads list, which includes many different kinds of fiction (don’t get fooled by the title).

How to submit to me? Short, snappy, professional query letter with the first 20 pages of your manuscript in the body of your email. Don’t send me an email asking me if it’s ok to query. Don’t ask me in the comments section of this post whether <insert what you’re writing> would be something of interest to me. Put “Query” and the title of your manuscript in the subject line. Send it to QueryLindaEpstein (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you’re not sure whether you have something I’d like, do your research. I’m on Twitter, Facebook, have been interviewed, and have blogged enough here that you should be able to get a sense of who I am and what I’d like. If you’re still not sure? Just send it. What do you have to lose?

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