Survival Instincts

I follow a number of agent blogs.  Whether they are right for me to query or not, I find there insights valuable.    Jessica at BookEnds, LLC agency’s blog wrote the following post:

You say in your query, “all published books today are crap.”
I represent a number of published books.
Therefore you are telling me that I only represent crap.
So, if you want me to represent your book for publication, your book must be crap.


Wow!  I know that querying is a difficult process.  We all want to stand out in one way or another, but committing literary agency suicide is not an option for me.

Everything I’ve researched and read has never led me to understand that a query letter can, under any circumstances, be insulting or condescending.  Quite the opposite, a query letter should be concise, well-written, reflective of your project and treated as a professional correspondence.

The world is full of stories, some that interest us and some that don’t.  Passing judgement on those who have been successful when we are at the beginning of the process is NEVER a good idea.

Be kind, be prolific, be confident and be persistent.



  • Liela,
    Even a canine like me knows vinegar ain’t fly catchin’ material. You’re so right. Not only that, agents are a clanish bunch, tend to talk about folks who “stand out” in a negative way, and you need no scarlet letter to add to the query woes. One other thing- a query should be an individually research pitch. “Form” letters find their way to the circular file quickly.

  • Absolutely! I completely agree. I have my basic pitch, but each letter is an exercise in following directions. Each agency has their own specific set of requirements. With each letter I send out, I adjust to the feedback I receive. The query process is just as educational as the process of writing the novel!

  • Agents are very sensitive these days, when in past years they were more hard shelled. Self-published kindle books scare them, especially when young book buyers don’t care who published what they feel like reading. Young people don’t have the aversions to self-published books, and they don’t see the need for the qualitative filters that agents and editors provided in the past. My agent has encouraged me to self-publish my orphaned novels while she represents my more commercial ones. And yet, she fears that one day she may be representing the film rights to my books instead of the books themselves. I’m old school, but I am forced into the blog world of networking because book marketing is changing so rapidly. The craft and imagination of creative writing remains grounded in principles, but everything else in publishing relationships is rapidly shifting.

    • I would agree that the industry is in a huge state of flux as agents and authors attempt to bridge the divide between hard-copy and electronic publishing. When the dust settles, I do believe that both will learn to exist.

  • Pingback: My Reasons For Not E-publishing « Escaping the Inkwell

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