Agents need to read, too

O authors. Dear authors. We’ve had this chat before, about how very necessary it is to proof your query emails to make sure you’re sending them to the right person – for instance, “seeking publication” instead of “seeking representation” from a publisher.

But agents are not exempt from this. I know you work in the industry. I know you’re busy. I know you’re repping a lot of authors and books right now.

But would it kill you to make sure you’ve copy-pasted the right name and reference into your query?

Because I will tell you this: It does not help your author’s case when you have very clearly copy-pasted (as in, I can see a different font and font size for this section) a reference into your email, and it is a reference to an author and book we do not publish. You’re obviously casting a wide net, and that’s okay…but please please please double-check everything in your email before you hit send. It doesn’t make you look good to have sent off a cold query with an entirely misguided opener, and it doesn’t exactly predispose us to looking favourably upon your client’s work, simply because we know we’d have to deal with you/your sloppiness in the future if we acquired the mss.

And yes, this has happened to us several times in just the past few weeks. It’s an epidemic.

And authors? If your book isn’t selling through your agent, you…might wanna figure out how you can look into how, exactly, that agent is making inquiries. To tell you the truth, I have no idea how one checks up on an agent’s progress, other than asking for submissions logs and responses, but I’m just cringing when I think of the response rate that that a screwed-up query from an agent who failed at Copy Pasta Class would get.

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  • http://twitter.com/Janet_Reid Janet Reid

    ” To tell you the truth, I have no idea how one checks up on an agent’s progress, other than asking for submissions logs and responses, but I’m just cringing when I think of the response rate that that a screwed-up query from an agent who failed at Copy Pasta Class would get”

    I could not agree with you more. I am an agent (hi!) and I’ve seen some of the queries my editor pals have gotten. I want to call the authors and shriek “RUN” but I would be thrown off the Agent Train if I did.

  • http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com Candlemark & Gleam

    You’re one of the awesome agents I always point to whenever someone starts questioning the use of such creatures. Great agents are SUCH an asset – you’re always helping your authors refine their work and their approach, finding the right homes for the right projects, and taking the stress out of all the management so that the author can WRITE.

    But there’s agents out there who just…eeep. EEP. I’m kind of disappointed to know that they’re plaguing everyone…

    I have the same impulse you do – to call up the authors and tell them to RUN! But I think the Editor Train has ejector seats, too…