Friday, May 21, 2010

How to be a kitten among chicks

I don't know if there's really anything I can say about The Great Agent Hunt that hasn't already been said, a jillion times over, and by wittier folks than me.

But as I looked at this cute pix, it made me think of the tweets I've seen recently by folks like Rachelle Gardner and Janet Reid and Marlene Stringer and Nathan Bransford and Laura Bradford and, oh, gracious, so many more. Periodically, they will tweet something that seems so obvious to me, like how someone queried them with Dear Sir when they are obviously a girl person or the querier will take six months to get the requested manuscript to the agent.

I flippantly replied back to one of them, saying, "Well, that's an easy automatic rejection." Some other author said as well that it made her queries letters look good in comparison.

And that's where the kitty and the chicks come into play. If you follow the rules (oh, yeah, you rebel you, we know how you feel about rules), your query is going to look as different as the cute kitty is in comparison to the chicks.

Say what you will, with as many queries flying at agents these days, there has to be some triage.

Most likely the folks who will read this post aren't doing any of these nitwit errors, but I was green once, oh, so horribly green, and it was Miss Snark who taught me the ins and out of the querying business on her infamous and now dark blog. I shall endeavor to pay it forward.

Be professional: If you were applying for a job, would you apply without knowing who your cover letter was supposed to be addressed to? Would you cold-call companies and ask the first person who answered, "You hiring? Cuz I'm a great worker, and you're gonna be missing out big time if you --"

No, I didn't think so. You'd take great pains to fill out the forms just like they wanted, to write the letter ever so carefully, to make sure there were no typos. You'd ask around and see WHEN they took applications -- is it every day, or just the fourth Monday of every month, and only from 3 to 5?

So query just like that.

Be patient: It was Miss Snark who warned us would-be nitwits to send off our partials and circle a date three months hence on a calendar and not worry our little heads (or most definitely the agent) until the date circled in red approached and then passed.

But patience applies to many other things as well. Writers are like the rest of population: We want it yesterday. And so we'll go off on little rabbit trails that look promising, but aren't. Hold fast. Don't give in to LuLu or any of those other "see your book in print TODAY" deals. You're worth the wait. You are SO worth the wait.

Research: This is of paramount importance, and it ties in with patience. Research agents. Research your genre. Research how to write query letters. Research how to write.

Don't fixate on one dream agent. That's like staring at a picture of Brad Pitt or George Clooney and saying, "That's the only man for me." You're blinding your eyes to the terrific under-the-radar agent who might just be your soul-mate agent.

Now go on. Be that cat among the chicks and let those agents hear you ... er ... yowl.


Piedmont Writer said...

Great advice. I don't know if you knew or not but I've been on a (supposed) blog break to send out queries for my Regency. I must be doing something right because I got a request for a partial 7 hours later. SQUEEEEE!

She's a totally top top agent so I should be really thrilled she's even bothering to look at it. I guess that's what happens when you're professional and know what you're doing.

Linda G. said...

Very good advice. :)

(By the way, Clooney's mine. Just so you know.)

Tawna Fenske said...

Excellent advice! The query process is tough, no doubt about it, but there are so many ways (like these) writers can make it easier on themselves.


Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Great post! Thanks for the encouragement and advice!

*trying out my yowl*

Cynthia Reese said...

Anne, I'm squeeing with you! WTG!! My hope is that you will find the agent that is right for you ... woo-hoo!

Linda G, keep your mitts off George. He loved me first. After Miss Snark abandoned him, I picked him up on rebound.

Susan, your yowl is positively powerful!

Lydia Kang said...

Classic advice and it never hurts to hear and remember this stuff!

Angie Paxton said...

Really great advice! Thanks for the refresher course. Especially the being patient part. I sooooo need to remember that.

Julie Musil said...

Cynthia, such great advice. Thanks for the reminder that yes, great things are worth waiting for!

Sandy Shin said...

These are some really great advice! :)

Nishant said...

Great post! Thanks for the encouragement and advice!
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