Maybe I read too many agent blogs

Last week, one of the agent blogs I read gave a piece of advice about query letters that really stuck with me. Essentially, he said to think of what everyone else will say and then say something different.

Am I the only one who finds this extremely unhelpful? The internet abounds with query letter advice. Don’t use colored paper. 12pt Courier or Times New York. One page with a max of two paragraphs for plot and one for previous publishing credits. Must include genre and word count. In the more nebulous realm of things it must also be informative, business-like and entertaining. And now, on top of that, it has to be unique. I would go crazy if every time I thought I had a good idea for a query, I had to scrutinize that idea and wonder if everyone else had the same idea.

I saw an agent-assistant blog that made fun of queries that used rhetorical questions, so now I guess that’s a bad idea. I feel sorry for agents and their assistants who have to read the same sort of query letters over and over, but we authors are floundering out here, too. In the submission process, the query is rapidly becoming more important than the novel. All agents say that the important thing is to write a good book, but that’s losing some of its truth. Many agents want just a query before any material, so that query has to knock their socks off.

I guess I gotta go take my rhetorical question out of my query letter.

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8 thoughts on “Maybe I read too many agent blogs

  1. I read that blog advice, too, and agree that it’s frustrating. If there aren’t specific guidelines, I’m just going to write my query the way it sounds best to me, and hope it’s good enough.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I’m enjoying reading yours.

    Carol

  2. Hi Barbara – Thanks for stopping by my blog. You’ve got a nice joint here!

    You can certainly learn from agent blogs but I stopped reading them & eliminated the links from mine awhile back. There are so many ‘formulas’ & instructions, not to mention the new blogs popping up with the latest ‘here’s how you do its” – just makes ya nuts. After a year of “studying” (not querying) I pulled that plug, moved on & took my own path. Reading about what dopes writers can be (according to some – not all), & how the odds for success were so miniscule & how there’s no money to be made anyway, seemed a waste of time & energy. I enjoy what I do, the way I do it & I’m making some $$$ outside of my day job while I’m at it. Investing less time on agent blogs (I prefer writer blogs) leaves more time to actually write, rather than fret about how to please some twenty-something-just-outta-school-expert. Am I cynical? Nah. Stubborn? Maybe. (Heck – the ‘experts’ don’t even know what publishing is going to look like in year or 2.)

    Okay – Just wanted to stop by, maybe raise some eyebrows, get people flustered. (Kidding)

    BTW – There are SOME good agent blogs.

    Dave

    • I should clarify – I write for kids. My work is targeted more toward boys. Not a great commercial market so interest among agents & editors, (regardless of query quality, t crossing, i dotting, or even content & style) isn’t & wouldn’t be so great. The fact that I can’t dream up a way to put a vampire or dragon on a surfboard or in a fast boat doesn’t help much, though the thought… no wait, that’s not true. Never entered my mind.

      Just didn’t wanna sound like a bitter curmudgeon.

      • You don’t. You sound like a writer who’s been on this merry-go-round a few times, which I have to. There are days when I’m all pep and can-do attitude. And then there are days when I’m extremely bitter. I hear, just write a good book nowadays, and it makes me want to scream!

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