Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Doesn't This Attitude Offend Anyone Else Out There?

As I recently mentioned in my post The "House" Effect though Miss.Snark's blog is a bit too gruff and unkind at times for my tastes it is filled with a world of information. (One must simply glean out the pics of GC and let Miss Snark drool at times.) So while perusing this blog today I found a short entry discussing email queries with a link to yet another agent's blog, entitled Lit Soup and belonging to agent Jenny Rappaport. I obviously do not know this agent from beans, (and I am sure after this post if she ever sees a query from me she will burn me in effigy.)

Anyway I am on my happy way and I click on Miss Snark's link. Personally, I happen to think email queries are the ONLY way to go, and I am always astounded at the fight against them that is being waged in the agent/publishing industry. However, that is a personal view though based upon where I live and not so much the "saving trees" aspect. When sending out queries, partials, ms. etc. authors who do not live in the USA, have some huge hurdles which I am not sure agents, editors and publishers fully appreciate. First off, if the agent demands normative mail (meaning they will not take the time to sign for a Fed-Ex package for a non-client), depending on the time of year and where you are in the world, an air mail letter can take anywhere between 4-20 days to get there. Four days is great, but twenty is a real long span of time. An ms. sized envelope can take 2-3 weeks as well. Okay, so you say time is time is time. Nothing one can do about that and that is why it is called snail-mail. Cool. BUT now let us discuss SASE's. Agents hate IRC's (International Rely Coupons) and for this reason most agents will not accept them. I don't blame them. I hate them too. I once, a few years back, had to purchase IRC's here in Jerusalem, which is a very modern city. In order to get IRC's I had to get to the Main Post Office and speak to one specific person (who of course was always out!) and then they had to make a special order for them. It was a royal and very expensive pain in the ass. All this because some agents refused to take email queries. On top of that, the SASE, even if it is used by the agent to say "No Thank You" after say 6 weeks, now spends another say 2 weeks (on a good day) in the mail. What in the US would be 2 days there, 6 weeks on the agents desk, 2 days back is now at best 2 weeks+6 weeks+2 weeks. Thus I find snail-mail queries annoying at best. But this is MY problem, not the problem of an agent.

So let us return to Jenny Rappaport entry on email queries. At first she takes us through a circular route of 2 email addresses (one preferred and one not preferred) where queries come in and are filtered straight into a folder. Then she tells us:

"This is one of the reasons that I don't like electronic queries because they can often get lost for several weeks before I decide that my poor electronic folder is too full and I really should deal with them."

Okay, so now I know if I want to send a query to Jenny Rappaport I do it by snail mail. That is kind of obvious. She is the agent, she prefers it this way, and that is that is that. It is her prerogative.

So I begin reading on how she handles snail queries. Email is kind of X'ed out so let us go to snail mail. Right? Logical?

Now Miss Rappaport tells us that she works from home. That is great. So do I and so do millions of other very successful people. But here comes the kicker She writes:.

"Occasionally, I'll misplace your query--this is not my fault. Or rather, it is the fault of my boyfriend, who decides that certain piles of stuff need to be moved around, etc, for whatever reason he is currently moving them. I love him dearly, but the boy does have flaws. You'll just have to deal with it, the same as I do, since my office is in my home."

Am I the only one that finds this a bit off? The attitude of a "professional" completely cavalier. Am I the only one that stops and says, WOAH. Wait a sec... Just what the hell is going on here? I spend hours and days on a query letter to get it just right; I want you as a perspective agent (after all you do list you accept queries); I decide I am willing to wait weeks and weeks and weeks to get my answer back; my hopes and dreams are in this letter which you solicit by saying you accept queries - and now I am at the mercy of your boyfriend and his desire to tidy up what you admit is a huge pile of queries?????????????????????

Miss Snark can go and on about how dumb we writers are. I wonder why she does not look at this entry in a blog of a fellow agent and say outright just how cavalier and rude such an attitude is.

Am I the only one offended by this? Are hopeful writers so cowered that they will accept any attitude, any method in which they are dealt with and spoken to? Are authors so devoid of the most elementary parts of self-respect that they will put all that work at the mercy of a tidy boyfriend???????? We must be a very sorry lot of people to engender such an attitude.

I used to hear jokes about the agent not liking the ms. cause the agent had a fight with the spouse the day it was read. I always thought there was a bit of truth in that, cause we are all humans and our mood effects us. But to be told flat out that my work is at the mercy of a boyfriend, no matter how unimportant it is in the scheme of I have seen the ultimate Hutzpah!

Doesn't This Attitude Offend Anyone Else Out There?

(This blog entry was posted on Absolute Write Forum as well. You are welcome to read what others think of this...)

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Categories: short stories, writing, on writing series
Getting Wasted - Writing & Editing & Publishing Short Stories

Edited With Qumana

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As a snarkling I want to start by saying I love Miss Snark's column. I think she provides a lot of useful information, and I believe she has her heart in the right place. I've had a number of email conversations with her and I don't think she's snarky at all LOL.

For example: she refuses to use affiliate links to amazon which would enable her to get a kickback for any purchases that are made by snarklings. She doesn't identify herself or attempt to solicit customer via the website.

Yes she rants, but I don't find her grumpy. I think of it as a persona and a darn funny one at that. I love her wit. Of course I also like the damaged genius portrayed in "House". I like eccentric quirky personalities. I think they make life interesting

As for Jenny. Yes I read that link too. Did you check out the comments? Someone queried her on the boyfriend losing paperwork (and rightly so). She was pretty defensive about it, stating that it wasn't permanently lost and she always finds them eventually. I immediately crossed her off my list of agents I would ever submit to. Lucky I write non-fiction so it's not an issue

I think it is good manners to acknowledge all correspondence including queries. I would like to see all queries responded to. If via email then a return email stating the query has been received and will be processed in approx xyz weeks and either please don't call us we'll call you, or if you haven't heard from us in xyz weeks then please feel free to contact us again.

For snail mail, the sender could include a prepaid postcard (with IRC) and the agent could stamp it with their name and a similar message. Or, pop a sticky label on it with the message. To me this is just sound business practise and good etiquette. The reality however is that most authors have to grovel for time and attention and it is almost a case of "treat em mean to keep em keen"

I'm fortunate. I live in NZ where publishers take submissions directly and are happy to send acknowledgement of receipt. Yet another good reason to live in Godzone :)