When Agents Have Bad News
or… Don’t Shoot the Messenger
Did you know that I invented publishing? Seriously—book publishers, agents, querying, marketing—the whole shebang, I thought of it, created the system and built it from the ground up.
Wait—what? I didn’t build the publishing industry? You mean I’m not responsible for the lousy query system, and the difficulty getting published, and the fact that authors have to market their books?
Phew! I was worried there—because I’ve noticed that I’m often put in the position of having to not only explain some aspect of publishing, but to defend it. A lot of times the questions directed to agents have this tone that says: “You created this system and it’s broken—so fix it!”
I didn’t invent the system—I work inside the system, just like you do. Agents and editors are small cogs in the machine and we have little control over how the wheel turns. But even though we don’t have control, we do have to explain the way things work. And sometimes that can be frustrating—for us and for you. Especially when we have news you don’t want to hear, such as:
→ An agent can’t give feedback on every query that comes in.
→ Certain books (and genres) are difficult to sell, no matter how much I love them.
→ Once you get your first book contract, you’ll need to specialize in a genre.
→ Writing for the Christian market requires you follow certain guidelines.
→ Every genre, in fact, has guidelines.
→ Yes, you do have write pitches, hooks, synopses, proposals, etc.
→ Yes, I would prefer you have a blog and begin learning social networking.
→ All the marketing in the world can’t guarantee book sales.
When you hear an agent say these things, remember it’s because we know the system and we’re trying to help you work the system. We’re trying to get you published. So try not to hold the negative parts against us.
Q4U: What are some things you’ve heard along this publishing journey that you don’t like?
© 2011 Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent