This is a two-in-one post.
Part One: My Personal Query Update
As in previous posts, here are some current query numbers (note this is for both agents here at LA):
- Total queries sent from July 13th - August 30th: 1,251
- Queries sent with an unsolicited attachment (aka - automatic delete unread with no response): 91
- Queries which led to requested materials: 43*
*This request rate is very high for the number of queries received (even more so when you axe about 100 of them as automatic rejects for the attachments).
Part Two: My Personal Opinion on Query Updates
It's not a huge secret that I enjoy typing up posts and Tweeting to help authors find the right agents and/or publishers. I've been watching some of the online query-related events unfold, and I just want to split things up in a way that explains various query-related events.
There's a huge difference between giving advice and just being disrespectful. I try my best to be on the respectful end, but at the same time, if you're going to be disrespectful, I may use it as an example to teach others what not to do.
For example, Slush Pile Hell: While the author of the blog makes snarky remarks and pastes quotes from actual query letters, I feel they're trying to educate (in a humorous manner) people. It's no secret agents get hundreds and even thousands of queries (did you see the stats above?). Even someone like me who genuinely enjoys reading queries will get burnt out after a while if we keep seeing the same, big mistakes.
I'm not talking about word count or even something like putting the query in first person - I'm talking about the queries that come in the form of "Could you please let me know if you are taking submissions?" or "You're probably not even going to read this, but I figured, why not? Send it anyway." or "Hey you, So I have this story..."
Those big and disrespectful mistakes are things that should be pointed out. Those people, in my opinion, did not do their homework and didn't take the time to treat their submission in a serious and professional manner. So yea, SPH points them out and responds in a snarky way. He/she takes something that is part of our daily lives (as agents) and puts them on display for people to see. If you've ever wondered why some agents don't even reply to queries or why we get backed up, that's part of the reason - we have to sift through all of those.
(Note: I said 'part' of the reason).
More examples, such as #queries or #queryfail.
Sure. I've used both hashtags on Twitter. Every now and then when I read queries, I'll post why I rejected and then use the hash tag #queries. But I'll be very vague. Example, "YA paranormal. Not my style. Reject." or "Adult UF. Don't rep. Reject." I don't mention what type of PR (unless it's one of the big 3 - werewolves, vamps and angels b/c they're saturating the market) and I don't give super detailed specifics.
As far as #queryfail goes, I do it every once in a while, but in a similar way to SPH. I don't make fun of people and say "Hahahaha! Witches in outerspace! What WERE they thinking?" (I've never received a query for one of those; not gonna lie - if the pitch was good, I'd read it). I just try to point out the really rude and completely baffling things that come across my desk.
Finally, industry interns vs. industry professionals.
I was an intern for two agencies before I started working at LA. My Twitter account was locked during that time, and if I Tweeted about the industry, only my followers saw it - who were also fellow interns and mentors themselves. I never Tweeted anything about what I read, whether it was slush, partials or fulls.
Because though I was not an employee, I still represented those agencies. And it was not my place to publicly discuss queries (regardless of how vague I could've been), partials and fulls that were addressed to people who are not me. If I had Tweeted information addressed to those at the agencies, my T-Rex butt would've been fired.
Now, I represent myself and the agency as an employee. If I discuss queries, partials and fulls, then I discuss those only addressed to me - not anyone else here (except for numbers, as seen above - those are just numbers and don't give out any form of information like genre, etc).
And while my blog dictates that the views on this blog and my Twitter account are strictly my own and not that of my employer, I know people will still judge based on what they read here and on Twitter; ergo, I make it a point to ensure that the people I work with have full access to the information I post and even discuss it with them from time to time. I don't do or say anything that I feel will directly affect or harm the agency.
I'm not anonymous. I'm not an intern. I'm not hiding my credentials. You know who I am, what I do and how long I've been in the business. I want people to trust me as an agent, a source for current information in the industry and as a blogger. I make it a point to be transparent in a professional manner, so that when you have a question about something publishing related, you know you can find the answer here without worrying about the source.
Also, as an intern, when you go for a job, you'll be Googled. It's a guarantee. If you spend time networking with industry folks (as anonymous or not) (whether it's this industry or not) and get a job interview, what if you're potential employer looks down on your Tweeting messages that were not sent to you? How can they trust you'll be confidential about their information if they were to hire you? You've just burned a bridge that could've helped pave your way to a great career.
As far as anonymity goes, this is what I've learned from watching others: no one's ever anonymous. Ever.
A fellow colleague once said, "Publishing is the tiniest big business you'll ever encounter." I agree. It's a big industry, but the networking is super tight - even if I've never met someone, I've at least heard of them.
As a former computer teacher, I used to tell my students, "Don't put anything on the Internet that you wouldn't put on a billboard off of a major highway." And I still stand by it. Why? Because even if you think you're anonymous and no one will ever find out, chances are someone will. Whether it's through word of mouth, process of elimination or even just some good, ol' Internet searches (hello, IP address?).
Interns are great. Seriously. #WonderIntern (my clients seriously created a hash tag for her) is awesome, and #SuperIntern (from the summer) was just as kick ass. Neither of them Tweet about anything they read in the office. Ever. And they don't offer advice, because they're still in the learning stages, as all interns are. If you go to the doctor, are you going to ask the doctor for advice or the intern?
Yet they're still very valuable to us and very much a huge part of our company.
The Internet is a great source of information, but it's also noisy as hell. I hope this helps you filter it a bit better.
Next post will (hopefully) be a video! *dances*
Happy weekend to all!!