Monday, April 13, 2009

In which Renee becomes an Agent for a day, and learns a ridiculously obvious truth.

So, I'm sure others will blog about Nathan Branford's Agent for a Day thingy, but I'm gonna beat you all to it. Ha-ha!

The gist: Fifty query letters were posted on Nathan's blog at random times, and we "agents" were allowed to request five manuscripts.

Well, I decided right away that I was going to try and respond to all fifty queries today, just to give myself an accurate taste of the job. I met my goal, and let me tell you, it was no easy task. There were many, many lessons one could take away from participating in such an event. I learned a lot, and I feel like I better understand why agents do what they do. However, for me, the most poingant lesson was perhaps the most obvious one of all.

Querying is subjective.

I mean, duh. How many bajillions of times have we heard this, have we said it to ourselves? But, it was absolutely fascinating to actually see that.

Aside from the few just plain bad queries that made no sense, every single query letter had at least one person enthusiastically requesting a full. Every single one. And, even the most popular queries still garnered numerous rejections. Many people have been including their five picks in their posts, and most of them have not a single choice in common with mine. Everyone had different favorites. Everyone.

The whole experience kind of made me smack my forehead and think, "It really is subjective." And for that, I want to thank Mr. Bransford. Overall, the contest was a blast. Very, very, very interesting. What a swell idea, Sir!

P.S. It's still going (until Saturday, I think) so go over and give it a try!!


Miriam S.Forster said...

Hee hee... Good for you, getting all of them done yesterday!

I haven't had a chance to look at most of the queries yet. To be honest, I've been far more interested in the comments and the variety of ways people responded. Still totally fascinating, though.

sraasch said...

I got through all 50 in one day (but only because I had NOTHING else going on). I think I've decided I want to be a literary agent. Though none of the queries really screamed READ ME READ ME and I only requested 4 when we were supposed to request 5, I had a lot of fun reading all those queries. It was nice to get to be on the other side for a change!

Joanne said...

Agent for a day, sounds like a powerful position! What a great way to get a feel for handling what comes across their desks. And that's just queries, not to mention the rest!

Natalie said...

What did I learn? I never want to be an agent. I had no clue what was good and what wasn't. They all blurred together. I'd be that agent who stopped trying to get through the slush, lol.

Renee Collins said...

Miriam-Oh, I totally agree. It so interesting to see the different reactions. On every single query, there is at least one (usually more) who loved it, and at least one who thought it was terrible. So interesting.

Sara-heh, yeah I read about 15 through the day, and then pushed myself to finish them all last night. I just wanted to see if I could do it.

I have to say I was the opposite of you (see--subjective!) I had a hard time narrowing it down to five. If there had been no limit, I would have requested at least eight.

Joanne-So true! Queries are just one little part of an agents job. It's much clearer now, to see how busy they are.

Natalie-It was tough! I liked how Nathan added the element of picking the "golden" queries, because that made it more realistic. A real agent can't just pick the ones that fit their personal tastes, they also have to think about what could sell. And that makes things much more complicated.

Lady Glamis said...

Thank you for sharing this, Renee. It's a good truth to know! I think we slave and slave away over our queries, when what we should really be doing is making those queries really mirror the work we've written. That way, subjective or not, the agent is sure to see what our work will be like and whether or not they want to see more of it.

I didn't have time to do this, but I may go poke around and look at some of the queries.

In the end - WRITE THE BEST YOU CAN. There is no secret formula. There is not golden pathway to success (for most writers).

jessie said...

Okay, I read Jenn's post just before yours. And my interest is piqued. Now I am going to have to put off watching Seven Pounds tonight so I can read queries.

Renee Collins said...

Michelle-Exactly. The perfect conclusion.

Jessie-You should! It's really, so much fun. And so informative.

giddymomof6 said...

ACK! Everyone is talking about this! I didn't even know it was happening! She's I've been in my own lalaland for way too long! I think this is an amazing idea! I'm so glad Nathan did this, and it's so cool you played along! Jenni