Oh, to Dream

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Oh, to Dream

PaperstackAs some of you know, I came to agenting through a bit of a side-hatch. I’m not a former editor. I didn’t complete UC Santa Barbara’s nine week literary agent training program. I wrote and tried to place my own material before moving to NYC to find a job in publishing. Once here, I applied for an internship at a literary agency, worked hard (and for free), and accepted a position once it was offered.

When I started as an agent, I made several lofty pledges to myself. Since I’d been on the receiving end of form rejections, I vowed to try and avoid them as much as possible. Because I, too, had waited for months to hear back from agents, I held my hand over my heart and said “Three weeks! I’ll respond in three weeks!” I promised I’d never become jaded because I was going to be an agent of the people, who would break the mold and be a hero and etc etc etc.

Folks, I’ve now realized that all those pledges are simple to say, and harder to do. As much as I want to honor those sacred vows I took, it’s become increasingly more difficult as the volume of queries has increased and I’ve focused more on my own clients. Then there’s conferences, and contests to judge, and lunches…I know, I know, I’m making excuses, but I simply wanted to address why things have been taking longer than usual.

I’m trying to catch up. I’m trying to put queries a bit higher on my list of priorities (you’ll notice, perhaps, that I haven’t been updating the blog as much recently). I do still yearn for more terrific projects to pass across my desk (virtually, of course). I’ve just come to realize that the superhero agent of the people is a bit harder to pull off than I imagined. But hey, if I can’t be Batman, Robin ain’t so bad, right?

Love,

Your friendly neighborhood Agentman.

Paperstack
  1. I always liked Robin better — cooler mask, brighter colors. Good luck, Boy Wonder.

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  2. Thank you, Agentman. We all appreciate the effort. No apologies necessary.

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  3. Agents and editors are human too, and only have the same 24 hours a day to look at queries–and that’s if they don’t sleep.

    Seems like you guys do a great job at upstart crow.

    Thanks for the update 🙂

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  4. Nice to see an agent with so much empathy for the other side of the desk. All your query people appreciate the effort and the sentiment, I’m sure!

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  5. I appreciate that Agentman responds to each query, even if it is taking longer than usual. I imagine that reading all those queries while wearing tights and a cape must get uncomfortable at times.

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  6. I think it seems impossible to slog through the queries, let alone complete any other work. I think the form rejection is just a fact of the writing world. It IS scary as a writer to believe that you have a great piece of work, and to realize that it just may never get read. I hate the thought of that. But that’s why we don’t give up our day jobs.
    As far as the blog, we all just like to be updated that there are actual real life people in this agency. Perhaps an unpaid intern could fill in with updates from time to time. 🙂

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  7. Agentman, Agentman, friendly neighborhood Agentman,
    Is he smart? Listen dude, he eats text just like food,
    Hey there, here comes the Agentman.

    I appreciate your empathy and nobility, but I think I speak for everyone when I say… “I just wish he could stick to walls”… well okay, maybe not everybody, but those of us who wish for those kinds of things.

    munk

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  8. I’m sure because you’re reading this and on this site that you already know Agentman is awesome, but just in case you ever question it, know that I have had the distinct pleasure of being rejected by Agentman on more than one occasion and each time he was gracious, helpful, and prompt.

    And if he keeps it up, he’s going to get even more queries.

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  9. You had me all excited about the link there for a second. I’m not far from UCSB. *sigh*

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  10. You got me on the link too!!

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  11. As long as you don’t say, “Holy Badly Written Query!” when you read mine, I’m totally cool with the Robin image.

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  12. Thanks for taking time to update the blog we’ve come to enjoy; you seem to be the lone voice right now.

    After returning yesterday from a week in NYC, I wonder you have time to work at all. The shows, parks, clubs, museums, bookstores, concerts…my pulse quickens as I type. I would kill, okay–maim, for a raw food restaurant in my state! So the fact that you live there and actually hunker down on a daily basis, makes you, Mr. super hero agent of the people, a better person than I.

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  13. Hey, you were already my hero. I actually GOT a rejection letter from you. That seems to be unusual these days, so I’m appreciative!

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  14. As someone who recently suffered through a large wave of rejections to my queries, I have to say your polite, personal and encouraging rejection was a breath of fresh air. It actually got me reading your blog on a regular basis – so well done!

    Here’s a friendly suggestion – to you feel the query is a “form query”, send a form rejection. If someone has bothered to write you personally, then return the favour. But hey, you’re Agentman – I’m sure you have already though of that!

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  15. The fact that you do, in fact, reply puts you head and shoulders above a lot of other agents. Thanks Agentman. I know we all appreciate your efforts.

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  16. Thanks for the info. I always liked Robin better too. 🙂

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  17. C’est impossible, L’homme d’agent!

    It seems like the gatekeepers need gatekeepers. Soon, there will just be a long line of keepers. It’ll be great – like ‘whisper down the lane’. A manuscript will start as a dippy romance and, by the time it reaches you, it’ll be an action-packed adventure.

    (BTW- keeping your safety in mind – next time you’re donning your costume to fly around Gotham, don’t forget Edna’s position on superhero capes)

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  18. Thanks for caring enough to worry that it’s taking you longer to get through your pile than you’d like. But we understand. And we’d rather you take the time to consider each query rather than quickly rejecting it to get through the stack quicker.

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  19. We appreciate all the personalization, even if it takes a little longer (and three weeks is nothing in publishing time so don’t stress about that). Thanks, Agentman

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  20. Dear Agentman,

    It’s nice to know that the query process isn’t too much easier from the other side either. It seems to be a necessary evil that just can’t be worked around. If there were some way to magically know how good a MS was without having to spend the time reading it, obviously queries wouldn’t be necessary. Or if agents somehow had time to read every MS, or at least a partial until it became obvious that it wouldn’t work, we’d all get our books published right? Maybe, maybe not.

    Anyway thanks for sharing about this. It’s nice to know there are humans out their doing their best to make it suck a little less.

    Speaking of which (i hope it’s okay to post a link) any novice writers frustrated by the query process would probably enjoy my blog. It’s just a novice writer and new blogger’s clumsy attempt at catharsis, but it might make you laugh.

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  21. it’s nice to see an agent who cares!

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  22. Thanks so much for caring and remembering how it feels to be on the other end! Your lofty pledges probably have a lot to do with the fact that so many people want to query you.

    Both Batman or Robin are great, as long as you don’t go Joker on us and say, “I’m gonna to make this query disappear…”

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