Nadia Lee | NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author of Contemporary Romance » Blog Archive » #agentfail

Jessica Faust opened up her blog for #agentfail and oh boy…! A lot of anger and frustration from everyone there.

I skimmed most of the comments and here’s my take on the entire topic.

No Response = No

It’s just like how recruiting for my first job hunting went. You can send your resume, but unless the investment banks and consulting firms wanted to interview you, you didn’t hear back.

I understand the frustration, and I think it’s always ideal to have agents write you back and say “no”. But I never let this deter me from querying agents who I thought would be a good fit. It’s absolutely silly.

OTOH — I never gave agents who sat on my query for months a chance to offer. I didn’t even tell them I got an offer. I figured if they go by no response = no, I don’t owe them the courtesy of withdrawing the query after two months or so.

BTW — requested partials and fulls do deserve the courtesy of notification and a chance to offer.

Requested Partials / Fulls Deserve Personalized Rejections with Specific Comments on Why They’re Being Rejected

I disagree with this. The only thing an agent owes a non-client writer is a yes or no. If you want some detailed feedback, join a critique group.

Timely Response to Slush / Non-Clients

I think this is a nice wish item to have, but I don’t think a slow response should deter one from querying agents. First of all, reading queries / slush is the last thing on an agent’s to do list. And it should be. An agent should give top priority to her clients.

Besides, things happen. Maybe the agent is in the middle of negotiating five different deals. Or maybe the agent’s busy dealing with a client crisis. Or maybe the agent has a big personal issue that must be dealt with ASAP.

You never know.

I was very lucky; I had an offer of rep from my agent within a week of querying her. (Note: I already had a polished manuscript ready to go. Don’t query unless you have a finished and polished manuscript.) I’ve also had very fast responses from other agents.

But some people had to wait longer to hear back from my agent and the other agents who had been very timely with me. And the vice versa has been true as well.

The most important thing for you to consider if you’re an unagented writer is whether or not the agent is responsive to her clients.

My list of #agentfail:

  • agents who neglect clients
  • agents who can’t sell anything to big houses (nothing to do with personality, but having an agent who can’t sell anything to big legit houses is pointless)
  • dishonest agents
  • incompetent / ignorant agents (the kind of people who don’t have any publishing industry experience, don’t understand publishing contracts, etc.)

Of course, YMMV.