Friday, April 03, 2009

Authorpass and Agentpass Day

A few days ago I gave you the opportunity to share your gripes about agents, and I have to admit it gave me a bit of the agida. It’s really easy to read your comments and wonder whether or not I’ve done something like what you’ve described, and since I’m not perfect I’m sure I have committed more than an error or two. However, with every moment of complaining we all need and deserve a moment of positive, and as one reader requested, “any way we can also have an agentawesome day where we can give props to those agents who went above and beyond?”

And I’m happy to oblige. It’s always easy to complain, sometimes harder to share stories about the good things that happen. I’m going to start by sharing some of the stories about the authors who I think really have had their acts together. . . .

Kudos to the authors who remember that an offer of representation is an opportunity to make sure you pick the agent that’s right for you. While I always hate losing and of course hate the possibility that I might lose, I respect the author who gives me the opportunity to reply to a submission when she has an offer of representation and I respect the author who’s willing to say to me that she wants to talk to other agents.

Kudos to the authors who see the author-agent relationship as a team relationship, and just as I try to give updates and feedback to you, you keep me posted on what’s going on from your end. What feedback you’re getting from your editors, where things stand with revisions and what, if anything, you need from me along the way.

Kudos to the authors who take the time to listen and learn, who do the research ahead of time and to the best of their abilities who know and understand that publishing is a business and treat it as such.

Kudos to the authors who take a minute to approach me at conferences just to say hi, to reintroduce themselves or share a success story.

Kudos to all of you who posted your gripes and complaints. I’m not perfect, but I strive to be better at what I do every day, and while I’ll never read submissions fast enough and I’ll always feel behind in my client reading, your feedback helps me acknowledge my faults and work to correct them.

Kudos to everyone who sits down and writes a book and then writes another. Kudos to you for putting your dreams on paper and then sending them out there to be judged, critiqued, reviewed and hopefully enjoyed.

This is a frustrating and heartbreaking business at times, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I love this crazy job.

Jessica

124 comments:

Anonymous said...

Several agents along the way took time to write personal comments on my submission, even when declining. I received full length thoughtful letters. This helped me to better my manuscript and gave me hope to continue. It allowed me to know I wasn't kidding myself. I have an agent now after several rounds of trying, same book. There are plenty of kind, professional agents out there. I believe if they see potential in your work, they will give you some of their time.

Shaun Hutchinson said...

This is an awesome post. And very true.

My agent experience has been really great. My choice was made by his excitement about my book and through the submission and sale process I haven't regretted my choice once. He's not afraid to bump heads with me or give me his opinion even if he thinks I might not like it.

I think the real key is research. I looked for the agents I felt best suited my work and my personality. As a result I had choices and I was able to make a choice that really paid off.

It's really true: a god agent is worth his weight in gold.

Joan Mora said...

The majority of my experience with agents has been positive. Recently, I received a personalized 'no thanks' from an uber agent who isn't actively looking for clients but I queried her anyway. Very gracious of her.

Lots of thanks go to the many agents who blog. Sure, they could read a few more queries or partials instead, but I've learned so much from them.

My best experience to date has been with the agent who asked me to call her (yes, on the phone!) to discuss possible revisions. Whether or not she ends up taking me on when I'm finished revising, her suggestions have made my manuscript better and I will be forever grateful.

Juliana Stone said...

I love this positive vibe Friday! Jessica you really are a class act, and truthfully, there are a lot of agents out there who are of the same calibre. Mine included!
Have a great weekend!

Katy Cooper said...

I'm grateful to the agents like Jessica, who take the time to let us know the deal with publishing with humor and candor, whether they do it through blogs like this one, or by speaking at conferences.

I'm also grateful for the agent who passed on representing me several years ago: her rejection said that she didn't connect with my work to the degree that would allow her to represent it with the passion it deserved. I thought it was the perfect thing to say and while I was disappointed, I was also glad she had made that choice.

Tara Maya said...

Thanks for doing this!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. A post-venting malaise hit me and it's been hard to shake. Positive Friday is a wonderful idea and gives me the chance to say that when I was a complete newbie to the submission process... and before I had ever read a blog (let alone stellar agents' blogs), I sent out my first queries for a book that was a bit on the long side. As the rejections (form) rolled in, I just hoped for a little professional guidance before I made the painful decision to shorten my book. And agents provided (two within a couple days of each other) advice on shortening the work. They took the time to personalize the rejections regarding what is clearly a newbie mistake. Thanks for that! And I sent them thank you notes for their help. They will always be part of my road to publishing.

Keri Ford said...

Love the Happy Stories Day! Since this is all good, I don’t see why we can’t name names to give these agents what they deserve. (Delete me if this is bad and I’ll re-do.)

I received an offer of representation once. I contacted a different agent, Elaine Spencer, who also had my full. She read it either THAT day, or the next (it’s been a while). She didn’t offer, but did tell me there were several things keeping her from doing so. I declined my offer and took Elaine’s suggestions. Wow, best thing I ever did (it was 1-2 pgs, single-spaced of suggestions that I still have). Not only did it improve that particular story, it taught me so much about crafting a story that I still use to this day. Elaine didn’t offer, but it was still the better decision since I learned so much about my writing. I open that revision letter often when I’m stuck on a wip and sometimes I find what I need.

Also, and more recently, I queried Kevan Lyons. Minutes to respond to my query. A week to read the partial (that she confirmed getting), another week to read the synopsis, and gave me about 2-3 sentences of why she was passing. It was direct, quick, and I was very pleased. Will query her with next wip if I’m not represented.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Kudos to agents who DO reply to every submission. For every agent who leaves a submission unanswered, there are three that answer promptly.

Kudos to agents who read a new author and give them a chance to submit a partial. Even if it ends up as a rejection, it gives the author experience.

Kudos to agents who DON'T reject manuscripts based on technicalities like "the page numbers were on the left not the right". I know darn well I've sent submissions in and missed some detail from the submissions instructions. Yet, most of the time, I've received an answer.

Kudos to the editors and agents who read tons of submissions and still love their job.

And Kudos to agents and editors who blog, Twitter and give authors an inside view into the very HUMAN lives of agents/editors.

Thanks Jessica!

Tara Maya said...

Things I appreciate:

1. Agents who blog. Not only have they taught me so much as a writer, but, as a reader, I've come to trust the judgment of several blogging agents, and now read pretty much anything published by their clients.

2. Agents who, even if they don't blog, have a professional website.

3. Agents who accept email queries. Extra brownie points if they also accept email partials or fulls while still in the vetting process.

4. Agents who give some feedback when rejecting a full. I don't believe an agent ever "owes" anything more than "No" but I am grateful to those agents who take the time to give a little advice.

5. Agents make it clear if they want to see mss revised according to their advice again, whether as a general policy listed on their blog, or as a note on the reject.

6. Agents who attend conferences and participate in online contests, especially while they are building their list.

7. Agents who accept multiple submission queries as long as said query is not a generic spam blast.

8. Agents with a sense of humor. I admit, I enjoy seeing the queries so bad they make mine look good by comparison. I also love agents who can poke fun at themselves.

9. Agents who post query letters that worked, and why.

10. Agents who invest in building a writer's career.

lianemerciel said...

People to whom I'm grateful: you, Miss Snark, Moonrat, Kristin Nelson, Nathan Bransford, and many others for your informative and entertaining blogs. They were a fantastic resource when I was trying to figure out how to go about this whole getting-an-agent process, and they continue to educate me daily. I shudder to think how clueless I'd have been on my own.

Thanks to the kind people at Absolute Write for helping me beat my query into shape. The first version was terrible; the last one was good enough to do its job.

Thanks to all the agents who replied politely and professionally and double thanks to those who took the time to write a couple of lines of constructive criticism that helped me improve the manuscript. It was above and beyond the call of duty, and I appreciate their risking the crazy to give me feedback.

The same is true of editors. I never got any response from an editor that wasn't completely courteous, and many -- even the passes -- were helpful, specific, and encouraging.

Finally, of course, I am extraordinarily grateful for my super-awesome agent, Marlene Stringer, whose persistence, positivity and skill are amazing. I count myself exceedingly lucky to work with her.

Without help from all these people, I'd never have gotten anywhere, and I remain grateful to them all. I don't know that I'm ever going to get the chance to thank them personally, but I'm glad to be able to express some scintilla of it here.

nlnaigle said...

Not agented -yet- but appreciate those that set turn around expectations on partials/fulls (even if it's a long time!).

I also appreciate those agents that get out and mingle at conferences and through blogs. I want an agent that I'll mesh with and getting to know them on a more personal level (after all the research is done) helps insure we make the right match :)

Happy Agent Awesome Friday!
Nancy

PurpleClover said...

I appreciate the short "it isn't right for me" or "it's cute but I don't think I could sell this" rejection responses because those agents took the time to contact me and treat me with respect (I actually gloated about one of these *short* personable rejections). It shows me they respect me (or at least gives me the impression...and that is all I want - lol).

I appreciate agents (and editors) that blog and give us all the free advice. I actually like the idea of "queryfail" because it helps me construct a better query and know what they are looking for.

I appreciate the agents/agencies with websites that are up to date and give a lot of information. I think its more professional.

I appreciate the agents that accept queries via email because this saves the environment as well as time and money for me. :)

I appreciate the agents that respond to the commenters with non-judging replies because it shows they have a sense of decency and they aren't cut-throat. We all want cut-throat agents when it comes to selling our manuscript but when it comes to relationships we want to know we can deal with them without having a nervous breakdown. ;)

I could probably go on and on, but the point is I appreciate agents that are professional and respectful.

As for the agents that twitter and blog being too busy. Good god I can't imagine having to read queries for 10 hours a day without some reprieve.

Ooh...one more -I appreciate agents that allow a *few* grammatical mistakes because lord knows I type way too fast to notice I spelled tale as tail or too as to or didn't capitalize an "I". Which reminds me of the personable response I received from an agent where s/he didn't capitalize anything. I LOVE that. I will requery.

Anonymous said...

AgentWin=

Kudos to the agents who blog about the business and help us wibbly writers get our brains around that part of the job.

Kudos to the agents who remain accessible and open; taking on new authors, providing email addresses and updating info on what they're looking for.

Kudos to the agents who take time to reject fulls with insight and intelligence - you don't reject us, you challenge us.

Kudos to the agents who remain as professional as they expect us to be.

Kudos to the agent that responded to my query, even after an entire year. :)

Kudos to the agent that didn't bitch, whine and complain about me online when I didn't send her the partial she requested.

Kudos to all the agents that read #agentfail and were made thoughtful about their procedures and approach, rather than sneering and defensive.

Kudos to the agents that encourage and understand our visceral need to write. Even when we don't write best-sellers, even if we're going broke, using up our vacation time from our day job and our lawn is two feet hight - we must write. Some of you understand that. Thank you.

Erin Cabatingan said...

My best agent experience so far, was when I was rejected after asking to see several of my pb manuscripts. The agent had an assistant who wrote the rejection email, but she was very encouraging, telling me to keep writing and that one day I would make it. And then the agent also responded, telling me that my work was good, at I just needed to find the right fit and I would succeed. They were very encouraging for a rejection and I really appreciated it.

playingwithchildren.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

My thanks go out to:

The agent who read my full, suggested revisions, and offered to read it again: even though it was ultimately a rejection, you helped me make the book much, much better. That book did get me an agent.

The agents who respond to every query and believe it's unprofessional and rude to do otherwise.

The agents who read Agentfail without letting Golden Agent Syndrome block their eyes, but rather used it as an opportunity to see where they might improve.

My agent, who knows my characters as well as I do, and who never sugarcoats her edits. My books are so much better thanks to her.

M. Dunham said...

I wish I could add a positive story about an agent, but I'm not at that point yet.

Thank you for your encouragement to we writers as we struggle with aligning our left-brain/right-brain activities into a novel with snap, pizazz, and good grammar.

I'd personally like to thank the writing group that I belong to for their excellent job in molding us into more discerning writers, as well as their support for writing projects.

Just_Me said...

I think there's a numbered list above that says this all, but it bears repeating.

-Thank you to agents who blog. I live nowhere near a big town. I'm not going to make it to a conference any time soon. Your insight into the industry is invaluable and I adore you all for it.

- Thank you for sharing queries on the blogs. I dread query writing. I want to see what worked for you.

- Thank you for being the buffer between me and the editor's legal team. I have no clue what half of those words mean, they scare me, I'm glad I can trust you to steer me right.

- Thank you for posting what you want to see. I love the agent's website that has "What we are looking for this month". I may not be ready to query, but I can watch the trends and see what they want.

- Thank you to the agents who list on websites and blogs what books they would snap up. I've seen a few where I know my book could fit, if someone doesn't beat me to the punchline. It's a good incentive to work hard every day.

- Thank you to the agents who respond politely. I understand you won't always love every book you read. I'm a picky reader too. I appreciate when you can find something good to say.

- Ditto that for editors I deal with directly.

- Thank you to the agents who make me laugh. Really, J. , won't you please consider sci-fi? Pretty please?

Tess said...

Now this is a thread I'm happy to comment on! Delightful. Positivity breeds positivity and kudos to those many agents, writers and editors who choose to be thankful and patient and kind each and every day.

The Writers Canvas said...

Great blog idea for today, Jessica!

AgentWin:

* Agents who have responded to my queries, partials and fulls--and taken the time to write a sentence which explains why it isn't for them. Sometimes this helps me reshape the book for other submissions; other times it convinces me that perhaps the agent isn't the best fit for me. Either way, it's helpful.

* Agents who blog and offer insightful advice (Kudos to you here, Jessica!)

* Agents who attend conferences and are on panels so we can see/meet them in person (again, yay Jessica!)

* Agents who don't cop an attitude when we ask for status updates. Every time I've asked this from BookEnds, the reply has been polite and prompt. It's never the "I'm so inconvenienced to have to reply to you" response that sometimes other agents do have.

Thanks for the blogs and info, Jessica. Keep up the great work!

Elaine

jimnduncan said...

Other than the rare no reply to a query, my experiences with agents have been positive. I've met a couple at conferences, Jessica being one of them, and I'm always impressed the professionalism and general friendliness of agents. Also, they love books. You don't do a job like this without a great love for the work, and it's probably the only way they stay in it, because they have to deal with a lot of sniping, clueless writers in the process of finding good ones to work with. I think if all the whining writers of the world could be an agent for a day, they would quickly shut their traps and change their tune and be a little more respectful toward those who work in the industry. Writers who understand things even a little bit don't bitch. Agentfail should not have been anonymous. People should be willing to own up to their gripes and stand behind them. You shouldn't be posting in a public forum unless you're willing to be public about it.

Anyway, I hope agents don't get too offended by the clueless wonder writers of the world. You all do a pretty impressive job of dealing with a subjective industry. You take the time to educate us and clue us in with blogs like these, which certainly isn't a requirement. Most of you answer thousands of queries a year, taking much needed time away from more important things, even though you are not required to tell people, "thanks, but no." Even though, no repsonse means the same thing. I for one appreciate that effort a lot. I don't expect it. I don't need it. It's not unprofessional of you to not do it. I'm honestly surprised sometimes that more agents don't change their response policies. I'd prefer you changed your policies so you had more time to read partials and make needed phone calls and do needed paperwork. Writers can deal. Seriously. We need to paper our walls with something besides rejection letters anyway.

Anonymous said...

A couple more.

Thank you for:

Agents who blog. I've learned more about the publishing industry in the last few years than I ever thought I could know.

Agents who Twitter. Thank you for staying up on the latest technologies, for letting us have a little insight into your world, and for keeping your clients updated on your day.

Anonymous said...

Of course to my agent, who loved my book enough to work with me through the many, many edits it needed.

Thanks to the agents who wished me well and when I withdrew my MS from consideration instead of firing off a rejection.

Suzanne Rock said...

I'll just echo what everyone else is saying...

1. Agents who respond to every query, even if it is just a form rejection. Extra kudos to those agents who offer feedback when they aren't interested in the manuscript.

2. Editors who are friendly during pitch sessions and help ease a frazzled author's nervous. (I assume some agents do this, too. I just have never pitched face-to-face to an agent before.)

3. Agents and editors who take time to blog about the business. I can't tell you how many mistakes I avoided because I was able to sift through a blog archive. It also gives a snapshot of the business I wouldn't get otherwise.

4. Agents who somehow manage to keep all of their online information updated and current. It is very clear what they represent, what they are looking for, and where to send your query.


Thanks, Jessica, for giving us this opportunity. There are so many agents and ediotrs out there doing things right. It's nice to have a forum to acknowledge them.

Carol said...

I've only submitted a few articles, but received a response of some kind every time. I appreciated the handwritten replies, the form notices, and even the automated responses. Of course, my favorites were the acceptances :)

The blogs, articles, and forum visits where some agents and editors take time to share their knowledge and encouragement have been invaluable. There are several blogs that I read regularly, even though they don't pertain to my genre, because they share insights into the publishing world.

Thanks to all the agents, editors, and fellow writers who try to help the beginners in this business.

Trace said...

Kudos to an agent a couple of years ago, sadly I don't remember her name :(, who took the time to request my full ms, read it, then tell me that she really liked the story but had decided to focus more on romance stories.

I appreciated the fact that she took the time. She emailed me a few times about the ms. Although I was disappointed, I also felt happy that she had strongly considered my ms. :)

Karen said...

I'm in the middle of the querying process, but have had a few positive experiences:

The agent who requested a partial, but declined with a compliment regretting that it did not fit their needs.

The agent who remembered the partial he requested on my first novel when I sent him a query on my second novel - and requested the fulls of both. It made my week.

The agent who requested the full with a tailored comment about my query.

Its been a few weeks, but these responses are still keeping me going.

Paige said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paige said...

I got very lucky with my agent. She stuck with me when my first manuscript didn't sell. She worked with me to come up with another idea and she helped me through that idea to make it the best possible book it could be -- she sold that one, by the way. She's always there to help and answer any question, no matter how amateurish it might be. She knows my strengths and weaknesses better than I know them myself -- but I am learning because of her guidance. She's the reason for any success I have had and any I will have in the future. She's a skinny thing though, so I'll have to say she's worth at least twice her weight in gold.

Anonymous said...

This one is for the writers.

Thank you:

For the folks at Writer Beware who tackle both the scammers and the incompetents, throwing themselves in the line of fire so we don't get taken in.

For writers who don't believe in stepping on everyone else to get ahead and offer their help to their fellow scribes so everyone can become better.

For the writers who participated in agentfail because they believe writers also deserve respect.

For the writers who produce wonderful books so I can disappear into their worlds time and again.

spyscribbler said...

I'm grateful for any contact with an agent. I'm not making them money, and they have clients. It's all worthy of bonus points in my book. I'd like an agent with an awesome client-response time, and to be frank, query-response time and rejection protocol is not really going to do anything for my career.

I'll tenth all those who said thanks to agents who twitter, facebook, blog and/or have a good website. As much research as one does, it's nice to know a little more than what an agent represents.

Dara said...

And kudos to you and all the agents who give great advice and direct us writers into making our book the best it can be.

Kimber An said...

Agentpass: Agents and Editors who blog with an attitude of educating aspiring authors, realizing every one of them starts out knowing very little and must grow and learn before she becomes a bestseller who can make agents and editors lots of money, and that they'll learn very little from someone who ridicules their efforts to do so.

Agentpass: The agent who, despite being as incredibly busy and successful as any of the best, took time to jot down personal feedback when she rejected my Full. Out of all the Fulls requested of me, her personal response was the only one I received. All the others were form letters without even my name inserted. I don't expect personal response on any rejection letter, but to make it all the way to Full status (repeatedly) and get nothing but a form is frustrating. I shall treasure that one personalized rejection letter forever. It's helped me improve immeasurably.

Mel Hiers said...

Most of my agent interactions have been very positive!

There was one instance in particular when I first began the agent search that I'll never forget, though. I recieved a very kind personalized rejection from an agent. Even though I spelled her name wrong in my query. *headdesk* Huge queryfail on my part, but the agent responded with a lot of class. I really appreciated that. And I'm now paranoid about my salutations. :-)

And other folks have mentioned it already, but I also appreciate agents who take the time to blog. I've learned so much about the industry and the way things work from reading them.

Sharon A. Lavy said...

Thank you for the positive. If we keep thinking negatively about our craft we will fail.

Janeal C. Falor said...

Though I do not have an agent yet, my dealings them thus far have been positive. I appreciate those agents who take the time to blog and give of their time and knowledge so freely.

Though I understand why agents can't always respond to queries, I'm grateful when they do. I'm also always pleased when their submission guidelines are easy to find and clear. Bonus points for those awesome agents who do e-mail queries.

Thanks to those agents who offer personal insight to their taste via books they like or a list of things they are looking for. I'm so glad there are agents around to help us authors through the world of publishing.

DebraLSchubert said...

Jessica, First of all, I appreciate you. You gave me such a positive response at Query Holiday time and that revved my confidence up and has enabled me to query in a professional and enthusiastic way.

Kudos to Kristin Nelson and Jenny Bent for their personal communication. It meant a lot to me.

And thanks to all the agents who reply to queries, partials and fulls and don't leave us hanging or have rude things on their websites like "However, we usually do NOT respond when we are NOT interested - no response should be a clear enough indication."

ryan field said...

This is funny. I just left a comment on Janet Reid's blog suggesting an agentpass.

Anonymous said...

1. Agentpass to those who are simply put, kind people. It shows your professionalism, even if you're just blogging about your cat.

2. Agentpass for those that go out of their way to personalize the form rejection.

3. To those that give even a little feedback. "More specifics, etc" That little extra does wonders.

4. To those that have a mutual respect for writers, and writers that respect the duties and boundaries of agents.

5. Kudos to writers out there that take the time to help each other out.

Happy Friday

- Oh, and your agent blogs are appreciated around the board.

Wes said...

Thanks for your blog. It's very helpful.

A kind, thoughtful, and very successful agent made constructive comments on the partial I sent her. She was absolutely correct. As a result I'm doing a rewrite, and she will get an exclusive look at the revisions.

Anonymous said...

It's like any relastionship: How do you know an agent is right for you until you've already started "dating"? I have three fulls out w/ agents now--they've all held onto it from 5 weeks to 5 months--without a word. Ofr course, they all seemed excited at first. How am I supposed to know what's going on if they don't communicate?

Laura K. Curtis said...

Well, of course, kudos to Jessica for starting this positive thread! And for all the other fab things she does, both for her clients (like me) and for unagented authors (like I was when I first met her).

Kudos to all the agents who go to conferences, listen to pitches, and answer questions about the viability of those pitches, treating the authors with respect even if the story doesn't sound viable.

I interacted with several agents (and editors) along the way, and all were professional and courteous...even when they rejected me. I like to think this is because I researched them before submitting, but I suspect some of it had to do with luck--I didn't catch them on a bad day!

I've never waited more than three months for a rejection from an agent, and the three months was what was listed on the agency's website, so kudos to agents who have a good idea how long their response time is.

As others have said, kudos are due to all agents who take the time to blog and tell us writers about "the business" and what's going on out there.

And, at last, a special thanks to the unforgettable Miss Snark, whose advice remains even though she has retired from blogging.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the agent (who represents several bestselling authors) who took the time to write a full page letter explaining why she was rejecting my QUERY and then when I ask for clarification on a couple of points in that letter, wrote another full page letter.

She has a reputation for being very tough on her clients (and their success shows, I'm guessing, as a result of that toughness), but also for being a top-notch professional and a fair and kind person.

My goal is to work with that agent or someone exactly like her. Her letters to me gave me the courage to keep writing and, hopefully, improving. I know she could also turn down my current project. Still, she is the first agent I will query when my WIP is completed.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I didn't post in #agentfail because, having never worked with an agent or queried, I had nothing to add, but I do have things to contribute to #agentawesome. Kudos to all you agents who blog or have some presence on the net for dispensing free advice and making our research a little bit easier.

Thank you for your remarks on picking the agent that's right for you, even if it means telling one agent you want to talk to others before making a decision. I think a lot of us are so afraid of the process that we're willing to grab whoever will have us first, whether that person is the best pick or not. There might also be a bit of not wanting to step on anyone's toes or fear that insulting an agent with such a request will lead to the offer of representation being withdrawn. Thanks for realizing it's a TEAM effort.

rhienelleth said...

Honestly, I had nothing to say on the other post. Everyone's human, everyone makes mistakes, and I hope people don't hold mine against me.

But there are so many things I'm grateful for that have made this process so much more successful for me, that I had to comment. Plus, who doesn't like a little positive in their day?

~ Thanks to all of the agents who blog. I'm pretty sure I read most of you, whether you rep what I write or not, and your advice and comments about the publishing world and the query process have been absolutely INVALUABLE. I have no doubt I was able to skip having to learn some extremely painful lessons the hard way, all because of your time and hard work to put your experience out there. Kudos!

~ Thanks to all of the agents who have read my queries, synopses, and sample pages. Mine have been among those you've slogged tirelessly through, and even if I received a form rejection, I still thank you for reading.

~ Thanks to those agents who have seen something in my work that sparked enough interest for a personal rejection. Those handful of words have kept me going when I thought I would drown in a sea of rejection.

~ Thanks to the agents who have sat through pitch sessions at Cons. I've walked by and seen you sitting all by yourself when your ten minute pitch didn't show up, apparently unaware that they were giving up a valuable moment in their writing career, not to mention wasting your time and taking the opportunity from someone else who DIDN'T get the appointment, because the slots were all taken. I've also pitched to some of you. Those pitches were my first 'queries', my first conversations with agents or editors about my work, and they helped give me the courage to query widely and handle rejection.

~ Thanks to the couple of agents who have taken the time and energy to jot down personal feedback on my partials. Those sentences are as precious to me as a momentary caught-up-on-queries-the-inbox-is-empty moment is to you.

~ and a special THANK YOU to the agent who read my full manuscript recently, and took the time to call and spent nearly two hours on the phone telling me what you felt would make the book better. Really, truly, deeply appreciated. I am taking your advice, and I think the book will be far better for it. If you were to become my agent someday, I would count myself among the most lucky of authors.

For me, there is no question of whether or not I need an agent. It's common question a lot of writers start out with - do I query agents, or editors? My answer now is: Why wouldn't you want an agent?

Jenn Johansson said...

Jessica - Thanks so much for this opportunity. Such an outpouring of positivity is wonderful to see. :)

I agree with every positive comment that has been made so far but I'd like to add a couple of personal ones.

Thank you to the agents that go above and beyond and post helpful query tips on their blogs. Some of the ones that helped me the most were: Kristin Nelson, Nathan Bransford and Janet Reid (Query Shark). Here is an example of how thorough research of their tips can help your query.

My first batch of queries I got one request from. I went over all their information and sent out a second batch of queries. The second batch resulted in 9 requests. The improvement was insane and I attribute it solely to their helpful tips and information. Thank you! #agentawesome

Another one was Janet Reid, who took the time to respond to me on multiple occasions quickly and hilariously. She has been giving me tips on improvement since my initial query and hasn't stopped yet. Thanks Janet! #agentawesome

Also, thank you to all my fellow writers(both published and unpublished) that go out of your way to help other writers learn and improve on their projects. You are the reason this industry goes forward. #writerawesome

Jessica said...

So far every agent I've personally dealt with has been kind and professional, even if a bit slow. :-) And really, the pace doesn't bother me because it's obvious that reading takes time. Comments take time. Deals take time. So every time an agent has taken their time to give me feedback or even a personal rejection, I feel awesome. I appreciate agents like that.
(Not saying my time is not precious either, for any devil-advocates out there, LOL)

Anonymous said...

Many, many, many thanks to any agent who read the comments on AgentFail day. Whether you choose to apply any of the suggestions to your own practice or not, simply reading the 200+ comments means a lot. Thanks for caring :)

Juliana Stone said...

Well, here's a fun one for ya! I just got an email from an agency I queried almost ten months ago! LOL, on hand I'm thinking...well, at least they replied, but on the other hand I'm thinking...at this point, why would you even bother? I'm considering whether I should delete said email, or send them a little Squeeee, note that I signed with an agent in June and um, she sold my book to a NY house!
oh, well...ya snooze, ya lose!

Devon Matthews said...

Kudos to you, Jessica, for giving me the opportunity to have you read my work and do a critique, via your beginnings contest last year. I took your advice to heart and completely revamped the ms. So, be warned. Because you loved my voice, you're at the top of my list when I begin the query process.

I also want to thank Kim Lionetti, who gave me some great personal feedback on a previous submission, which she declined to represent, but I really appreciated the encouragement she gave me. Afterward, I realized the ms. wasn't quite right for the mainstream market and went on to have it published with a small press.

Thanks, Bookends ladies, for your professional, courteous, and downright nice treatment of this author!

Sooki Scott said...

The positive energy today is infectious.

It is believed our attitude is the median reflection of the five people we spend the most time with.

I wonder if our attitude is not also the median likeness of the five blogs we frequent the most.

If so, I'm happy to have BookEnds in my top five.




Confucius say, he who put face in punch bowl get punch in nose.

Diana said...

I really appreciate several agents and editors who blog and twitter, sharing their wisdom and interests. While there are many, I'd especially like to mention Bookends, Nathan Bransford, Janet Reid, Colleen Lindsay, Moonrat, and Rachelle Gardner for their insight.

I loved Firebrand Literary's Query Holiday. It was an awesome opportunity and a really cool way for them to address every writer's fear of being rejected because of a crappy query letter instead of a crappy manuscript.

I appreciate every agent and agency that has a strong web site that includes bios, books and clients represented, and clear submission guidelines.

Thanks to the agents and editors who give presentations at conferences. I know you're also there to find new talent, but by showing up and being approachable, you make the entire publishing industry less scary.

And finally, thanks to the people at QueryTracker.net, who have created an awesome database of agents, the clients they represent, and a means of keeping track of queries and submissions.

It's nice to be able to say all of these good things while having only one real suggestion for improving the agent/author relationship the other day. That's a better pro-to-con ratio than many of the other work relationships I've had in life!

Dawn said...

I'm just beginning. I've sent out only four queries and received two rejections. I'm in it for the long haul and have set up an email folder to collect any responses I receive.
I appreciate the agents and writers who blog and twitter. I learn a great deal and feel part of a community. So thank you. As lonely as writing can be, these things help a great deal.

Sara J. Henry said...

The first agent I contacted read my manuscript based on a recommendation from a friend and offered great feedback, which at the time I lacked the writing skill to incorporate. The second sought me out at a writing conference based on some early chapters - but I knew the middle of my manuscript wasn't ready. And the one and only agent I queried after that responded in 53 minutes (yes, I nearly dropped my laptop), read my partial in 2 days, and offered excellent feedback.

So in my admittedly limited experience, I haven't had a single bad agent encounter.

Anonymous said...

Huge AgentAwesome award for the agents whose rejections are actually addressed to me... like really, my name is on the letter, which also is on nice stationery and looks as professional as the query letter I sent.

I will also add that if I did ever receive a rejection letter covered in glitter (which agents mention receiving much to their chagrin) it would really make me smile. Use the Hello Kitty paper if you want, that's just fine! :)

Miss Lily said...

I'm grateful to agents, editors, and assistants who blog about the buisness and not always just about the query letters and what's wrong with them (It gets old unless they're different when you've been reading for awhile). Without you, I wouldn't have gained half the insight about the publishing buisness I have. You truly are professional and classy. ;)

I appreciate the agents, editors, and assistants who take the time out of their day to respond to all queries, even with just one word. Ya'll rock. It's no wonder the ones who do are loved.

Since I'm not querying yet, I don't have too much to say yet. However, I do appreciate the teacher who told me to do my homework on publishing before jumping in, and the many blogs I read from agents, editors, and assistants that agreed. It's by far been the smartest thing I've ever done, my own writing has improved for it, and I'm not even querying yet. So thanks! ^_^

Also thanks to my fellow writers out there for the never ending resources.

pauljessup said...

Kudos to my agent, who has to put up with my crazies, my moments of depression, and my anxiety over writing.

Agents have to put up with a lot, and the fact that authors are mentally unstable adds a lot to that!

JohnO said...

I really really liked it when agents closed the loop. If you asked for a partial/full and gave it a read and then pass, fine. Esp. if you do it in a reasonable time frame.

Better was when agents gave me a hint why -- even one line. I learned a TON from those. I know it's time-consuming and non-paying on the agent's behalf, but boy, is it ever good karma.

Now that I'm about to go on the trail again ... and guess who's high on my list of who to contact first?

sex scenes at starbucks said...

I had an agent write a detailed critique on a partial and even look at it again. I since realized it's not something s/he'd represent, but they did it because they wanted to help a writer. Period.

Jess said...

Kudos to all the agents like you who do your best to help us be as informed and professional as possible.

Kudos to the agent who emailed me a rejection eight months later with a note she had been on maternity leave and was sorry for the delay.

Kudos to the agent who was up-front with the partial and said I don't know the right editors for this instead of stringing me along or getting my hopes up.

I've had only professional or above average communicae with agents, really.

Mystery Robin said...

A big thanks to agents who take the time to blog and give us, aspiring authors, such valuable information about the publishing business and agenting in particular.

And thank you to agents who have encouraged me along the way and offered valuable feedback when they pass on a partial or full. I know they aren't paid to do that and it doesn't directly benefit them at all, but it does keep me going as a writer!

Also, thanks to agents who promote their clients book in encouraging, kind ways on the web. It makes me want to be part of the group!

Mystery Robin said...

Oh - and another thanks to agents who run contests, again with little personal gain and tons of time invested. I love those! I went from "join a crit group" on a hook contest from Miss Snark's hook contest, to getting full requests, and those little bits of feedback really helped along the way.

(and yes, I did start working with a crit partner)

Ella said...

Oddly enough, thank you to the agent who gave me a period of time when I believed my dream was possible. To Laurie McLean, who, to this day sent me the nicest rejection letter I've ever received. Thanks to Nathan Bransford(really fast responder ;-) and the other agents who do their best to make this journey less painful. Jessica,you've always been top notch. To the agents who remember me from previous queries and agents who pass along useful information, thank you. To Linda, my editor at Samhain, who gave me the opportunity to see my book(s) in print. I will always be indebted to you. Kim Whelan, Paige Wheeler, Stephany Evans, Clair Gerus, the list goes on; thank you.

Kelly Gay said...

Kudos to the agents who take the time to blog and educate us on everything from queries, to marketing, to the current trends. All of you have taught me so much about this industry.

And kudos to Colleen Lindsay who saw 'something' in my work, decided to take a leap of faith and go on this crazy publishing journey with me. :D

sue laybourn said...

I'm fairly new to the process but here's my tuppence worth:
1. Agents who, although snowed under, at least take the time to 'top and tail' their rejections. It's a small thing but it softens the blow.
2. The lovely agent who rejected my partial but took the time to complement my writing and tell me why the chapters didn't work for her.
3. Agents who take e-mail queries. If there's any UK agents out there, please take note!
4. Agents with good websites that explain what they want.
5. Agents who respond, form or otherwise.
6. #Queryfail, brilliant, informative and an eye-opener.

Susan Adrian said...

Yay, #agentwin!

Thank you to:

--The crazy-famous agent who took the time to MEET with me one-on-one at a conference to discuss my first book. It wasn't ready and she knew it, but she encouraged the hell out of me.

--All the agents who responded to queries politely and in a timely manner, whether it was a request or a rejection.

--All the agents who took the time to give me reasons WHY they said "no" on a partial or a full.

--The agents I've met at conferences. I haven't had a bad experience with one yet, contrary to #agentfail.

--Most of all, of course, to my fabulous super-agent Janet Reid, who took the chance. I love her passion and her persistence. Absolute #agentwin!

TrixieLox said...

I've had mainly positive experiences with agents during the querying process so this one is EASY. Agents pass because of:

- The friendly personalised email responses I had when querying
- Uber-fast response times
- Really useful feedback to fulls
- Great blogs like this and Tweets offering fab advice

As for my lovely agent, who recently took me on:

- Amazing suggestions for making my m/s even better
- Enthusiasm
- Always gets back to me
- Shared love of choccie
- Damn fast reader
- Good hairage

:-)

Anonymous said...

I'm thankful to the agents that take the time to address me in a rejection letter by name...somehow it feels more personable and the sting is not as painful. Also, I am thankful and grateful to the agents who requested a partial or full mss, even if in the end they rejected it. It gives me hope and lets me know I'm on the right path.

Eva Gale said...

I felt bad for some of those people yesterday, I really did.

I've never had a bad experience with an agent. They've all been kind, timely and gone above and beyond polite.

And I love that a lot of you blog and twitter. I like knowing you as people, getting to know your senses of humor and how you work.

Maria said...

I love agents who blog, agents who respond quickly, agents who respond in the time that is stated on their website. I like agents who stop accepting queries when they really don't have time for them or don't wish to add to their client list.

I love agents who treat everyone the same--other agents, editors, clients, potential clients--with respect, always.

I love agents who keep their website updated--not just with submission guidelines, but with client information, client news, and book covers. I love agents who had links to their client websites, to their short stories, to the client bios.

I love agents who blog about books, not just their client books, but books that they truly love because we are all in this business over love of story. I want to hear about what they are reading and what they are liking. I want to see the cover, I want to know why it was a special book.

Thanks to all the agents for participating, reading and even asking the question if only in their own mind.

green_knight said...

I love agents who make me feel we're on the same side: we love books, we love great stories, we work hard to bring them into the world.

It's easy to forget that most agents became agents because they love books; thanks to all the agents who remind us of this.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

An agent who rejected my ms took the time to analyze my first chapter, told me what was good, and what should go. She then told me about two big mistakes I had made throughout the ms that were easy to fix once she pointed them out. She didn't have to do that. Now my ms is stronger because of it. Had she not told me, my writing would have remained weak, and chances are great no other agent would have told me the truth. That isn't their job.

Anonymous said...

One agent (I think it may have been the agent's assistant) wrote "Don't give up!" on the bottom on my rejection letter. That's one of the things that's been keeping me going. I have received plenty of professional personal rejection letters, and have rec'd very few non-responses (except from agents who use email exclusively). I worked in publishing and read the slush pile--it really is the most depressing job in the world and I would NEVER do it again, so KUODOS to agents who still read slush!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to my agent, who actually cares about me, not just the money she gets from my books. When I went through my divorce, she was supportive. When my father died, she sent flowers. She's a great agent, and an even better person. Many thanks to her and all the other great agents like her.

dawtheminstrel said...

Thanks to the two agents who read my full manuscript and gave me feedback that let me edit and improve it. Thanks to the agent who told me he wasn't right for me but kept emailing me to encourage me and check on my progress. Thanks especially to the agent who signed me. She's communicative, supportive, enthusiastic, and professional. I feel very blessed.

Dorothy Winsor

Anonymous said...

I didn't participate in agent fail day, but I am happy to participate in agent pass day.

I am thankful to the agents who sent a personal rejection and complimented my writing.

I am thankful to the agents who sent a form rejection.

I am thankful to agents who blog and to people with a sense of humor.

I will be thankful to the agent who someday takes me on as a worthy client. Until then, I will hone my craft, network, learn the industry, and prove myself.

Thanks for the opportunity to spread positive vibes.

~Lindsey S

Heather Wardell said...

A huge agentpass to the agent who, about 6 weeks ago, took the time to write a response explaining a pacing problem with my manuscript.

I didn't know I had this problem (basically, repeating myself in the dialogue tags and the actual dialogue) but once she pointed it out it was so obvious to me.

I've revised and now have two fulls out for the book (one with her). Regardless of whether she chooses to sign me, she's changed the course of my writing forever and I'll forever be grateful.

Lisa Iriarte said...

I would like to compliment an agent who rejected me so nicely that it hangs on my classroom wall. This same agent is willing to chat with me on Facebook, and later this month she is coming to speak to my students about writing and publishing.

archangelbeth said...

I have, happily, never received an insulting rejection from an agent. I've gotten some very nice ones, even the form letters.

I'm going to single out Diana Fox for her wonderful personalized rejection of my partial, which included some spot-on weaknesses that I'm working on addressing. I don't think I can get the whole thing down in word-count as far as she'd like, but I'm still working on doing my best and it's gonna be a tighter book now. She also had the excellent taste to sign up someone else whose work I admire, whose book will be out this fall -- so I thank her for that as well as I look forward to that book!

Thank you to the agents who blog. I may not follow twitter except on special occasions (the format makes my brain hurt), but it's good to be able to see what people like. I think it was from reading agent and author blogs that I realized that my book needed to lose the first chapter entirely. While I needed to write the chapter in the first place, it didn't need to stay.

(Though all the fun, blogging agents do break my heart harder with the rejections. Alas, alack, I do not achieve passionate "gimme book so I can sell it!" from those I admire. Oh, well; I'll get over it.)

Thank you to agents who accept email, and a double thank you to the ones who say whether or not they want HTML email or if they want plain old ascii. (Marking the italics/underlines is a bit harder in ascii, but I understand not wanting someone's HTML overriding the font preferences that make it possible for the agent to actually, y'know, read the email.)

Hooray for agents who keep their submission guidelines easily found, detailed, and up-to-date. I like knowing that a rejected query is due to story-content or quality, not because I inadvertently hit the agent's pet peeve. The story I can market elsewhere. The quality I can work on.

[A boo to any authors who whine about having to follow font size and style preferences; my own eyes are bad enough already that I will never begrudge font/size requirements from anyone else whose livelihood depends on vision. If I can't read 6-point flyspeck, neither can an agent!]

Hooray for the agents who are on top of their work and can keep their clients informed! You're probably more amazing than I can imagine.

A thank you for all those agents who read through the /agentfail -- yes, there was a lot of negativity there, but you're probably the ones who won't do the things that make writers bitter.

Tabitha said...

Kudos to you for being brave enough to post first #agentfail and then this followup post for praising agents. All these positive comments give me a warm, tingly feeling. :)

Anonymous said...

1. Kudos to Miss Snark, because, seriously, I think most newbie writers would be awash in a sea of nitwittery without her. I started looking for an agent after her blog went dark, but what's there is still the ultimate resource for me. There's so much useful information, and reading through all her crapometers has really taught me what NOT to do.

2. Kudos to Janet Reid. Her regular blog and Query Shark are two things I've learned a lot from and don't think I could do without.

3. Kudos to Kristen Nelson. She is incredibly helpful. I loved her Agenting 101 series, not because I ever intend to embark on such insanity on my own, but because it really helped me see what things to look for and what questions to ask. Her inside scoop on queries is also helpful.

4. Kudos to Nathan Bransford. Every weekday he brings so much interesting information on what's going on in the publishing industry, and really tries to engage his blog readers.

5. Kudos to the authors who really try to connect with their readers because they want to, not because they think it will sell more books. Most of us can see right through that, and I, for one, really appreciate it when an author truly appreciates his or her readers.

Anonymous said...

I thought this was for agents and, writers... aren't any agents out there going to say somet positive things about writers? I'd love to hear some. Queryfail was so disheartening, it would be nice to hear an agent talk about the successes and the writers they love working with.

Dan Geilman said...

This isn't so much an agentpass or authorpass item as a look as a publishingpass. I can relate with feelings of frustration expressed by a lot of people over lack of response from agents or editors. I’ve felt the same things. I can understand why people think the system needs an overhaul but if we want to overhaul publishing, we might as well overhaul hiring procedures for all corporations in the world.

Take just a minute to think of your ms our query letter as a resume and your agent/publisher hunt as a job search. This really shouldn’t be too much of a stretch since I’m sure all of us hopeful writers are would like to make writing a full time career move.
Assuming everyone out there has worked or looked for work at some point, you all know how important your resume is. It’s the document that decides if you get an interview or not, especially if you never meet anyone in person. I’ve spent many, many hours fine-tuning my resume to hit the key words, proper format, etc… that will help me get noticed. My resume is a summary of almost fifteen years of work and education. What's the difference between this and a query letter or ms?

When looking for work, you research companies that are looking for people with your skills. Sounds a lot like researching an agent or publisher, doesn't it?

Most companies, not matter how fantastic your resume or work experience may be, will never contact you because: 1) they don’t need you right now, 2) there is somebody that better fulfills their requirements, or 3) you’re really not as great as you think you are. Would you really expect a personalized note from a company explaining why they have no interest in you? If they tell you on their website that it is their policy to do so, then sure, expect a reply but if not, really, how realistic is it to complain about not being told what you would need to do to become desirable to them? Why should we treat the publishing world any differently?
Finally, how many of us have ever seen a bad resume or application posted on the web for laughs? I know I have and have laughed at the really bad examples. It’s not just agents and editors that laugh at the people trying to get jobs with them. When an example is bad enough, most people will laugh. It’s not nice. It’s not fair. It is life.

Rejection stinks. I feel the sting with every form rejection or lack thereof. But somehow, when looking for a job in my field, I never once considered the HR people reviewing my resume as jerks or unprofessional for not contacting me. They weren’t interested because I wasn’t right for them. They are the experts on what they are looking for, not me.

This is my small rant for a publishingpass. It’s a business, just like any other. We all hope we can get a piece of the pie but seem unwilling to play the game by the industries rules. Do you do that in your professional life as well?

Bobbie said...

I queried an agent w/my first five pages and got a rejection back from her. Not only was it personalized, it was full of suggestions and advice on how to make what I had better--several paragraphs worth of suggestions. She said it wasn't for her and she had just sold something that was too similar to my book but that she hoped I would keep going because "it's worth persevering with to get it right." I was blown away by her thoughtfulness and her efforts to help me when it wasn't going to benefit her in any way ever. It's the most perfect rejection I've ever received.

I've had bad experiences with agents, but they make the good ones all the brighter.

And like others commenting here, I'm grateful for agents who blog and twitter, who offer up less personalized advice but advice nonetheless. I'm grateful for agents who express appreciation for writers and who love their jobs, even when it's hard.

Marilyn Peake said...

Jessica, thank you for such a beautiful and caring post. It made me proud and happy to be an author, despite all the difficulties and pain of the struggle. Since this is Authorpass and Agentpass Day, I thought I’d approach it a little bit like Thanksgiving and mention some of the publishing industry people for which I’m thankful.

I’m very thankful for literary agents who have blogs, interact with authors and take the time to explain their query process in detail. I first discovered that such a thing existed when I happened upon Nathan Bransford’s blog. His graciousness, wit, appreciation of literature, and deep respect for both established and newbie writers shine through on his blog and provide a source of inspiration for writers. From Nathan’s blog, I recently discovered this blog, Colleen Lindsay’s The Swivet blog where I learned that today was Authorpass and Agentpass Day, Kristin Nelson’s Pub Rants, and the blog of Janet Reid. Eventually, I hope to learn how to sign in and post on all these wonderful blogs.

I’m thankful for the many ways to publish, for all the information available on the Internet, for all the honest and decent small presses that publish nonmainstream books, for sites like Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors that allow authors to report and find out about the dishonest ones, for the awards available even to small press authors. (I recently won three Finalist Awards in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, which has given me a week of jubilance.) And, last but never least, I’m thankful for all the wonderfully supportive and fascinating authors I’ve met and worked with along the way.

Doug Eakin said...

Like any business, there are the good and the ugly. For this business to survive, people need to remember to treat everyone with consideration and repect. As in any business there is a steep learning curve to begin with, which then flattens out after awhile, but the learning never ends. It is the few who forget from where they began that tend to become arrogant. Many thanks to those who attempt to educate and lift some of the mystery to the processes of finding an agent and getting published.

writermomof5 said...

I'm so glad you did this! There are many reasons to give kudos to agents but because I'm kinda getting to this late in the day, I think everyone coming before me hit on them. So I'll relate something more personal.

Recently, in response to a query, an agent sent me a rejection that was not only personal, she remembered a prior submission that I had made a few months before and commented on both.

I know a rejection is a rejection, but this one made me feel like she saw me as an individual instead of a number in her in box.

Dorset Girl said...

While of course the process is frustrating when you're on the outside trying to get into the 'magic circle', I found every agent I approached polite and very professional. The agents I queried replied quickly, and when I had offers on the table, those reading got back within hours. I found it really hard to choose, as all the agents who offered were so great.

My agent is fab. He drinks Guinness. He doesn't complain about my potty mouth. And he has a beard. Which is obviously why I decided to sign with him.

Anonymous said...

My Agent Pass goes to Janet Reid. I was very impressed with her response to Agent Fail. Unlike several other responses, Janet picked out the legitimate complaints and considered making improvements (except for the messy desk thing, that was silly). Donald Mass and a couple of other agents responded well also, even though they were anonymous agents. Thank-you for taking the time to consider ideas on how to make our lives better. Jessica thank-you for giving us the opportunity to air our complaints. There were some over the top complaints, but there were good ones also.

So My Agent Pass goes to all of those agents who realized the bloggers weren't all nuts, and that we don't see agents all the same.

Oh this is an Authorpass that goes to Rick Daley for starting a website dedicated to improving query letters, and all the writers who didn't throw their fellow writers under the bus to kiss butt.

Laraine Herring said...

I love love love my agent. Love her. It took about three years of soliciting to find her, but it was worth it. From the first phone conversation, we were on the same page. She's driven great distances to come meet me in person when I've been in her time zone (I live on the west coast, she lives on the east coast) & she's been honest and discerning. We've sold three books together.

When I was in the querying stage, there were only a few agents I heard nothing from. Most I got a handwritten note -- one I got a very detailed note w/suggestions for the book, even with a pass. I was thrilled by that. I teach creative writing, so I know how long it takes to effectively comment on a ms. That someone would do that for a writer they weren't representing said a lot about them.

Have I said it enough? :-) Love, love, love my agent.

Lucy said...

I'm noticing a trend here.... Happy authors are patient, professional, do their research, and have realistic expectations. Hmnn....

Jessica, Nathan, and all of you who go out of your way to provide so much thoughtful commentary and advice through your blogs, thank you.

And kudos to the sweet lady a few years back who sent me a rejection, of sorts: she was closing her agency, and kindly offered me a recommendation to another agent.

Carmen said...

My agent has a "no response means no policy." She doesn't have a website or a blog. So how is it she gets a big #agentwin from me?

* She's been an agent for 15 years. She knows everyone in the business and has a great list of accomplished clients. Before she got into the agent game, she was an award-winning editor.

* She responded to my e-query and asked for a partial the same day I sent it.

* She read my partial over lunch the day the post delivered it, and immediately requested the full.

* She finished reading the full on the outbound flight of her vacation abroad, and emailed from an Internet cafe to offer representation.

* She worked with me to prepare my ms. for submission within days of returning from her vacation.

* The last bullet point will have to wait for the official announcement on Publishers Marketplace.

Many of the commenters on #agentfail wouldn't have submitted to my agent, based on her policies.

I'm sure glad I did.

Anonymous said...

My agent is made of win. She stuck with me, enthusiastically, after the first book she repped for me didn't sell, even though I *cough* went a little crazy *cough cough*. And the next book I wrote, she sold in a two-book deal.

Also, I think what you ladies here - and Janet Reid, Kristin Nelson, Nathan Bransford, and other blogging agents - offer to writer is a fantastic thing (including, of course, our dearly de-blogged Miss Snark). Writers have never had it better when it comes to getting industry info and being informed. So ... thank you!

Mags said...

Oh! We're naming names? Awesome.

Ben LeRoy, publisher of Bleak House Books, once heard 250 words of mine read at a conference and thought it sounded alright. We talked.

He doesn't publish what I write, so he took it upon himself to introduce me on others in the biz, and to writers he thinks I'd gel with. I've got a couple of good friends out of that. And a number of requests.

He's your basic freak of nature.

KateMessner said...

This is awesome - I actually did something similar on my blog, declaring today "Say Something Nice Day," not only about agents & authors but in general.

http://kmessner.livejournal.com

All the #agentfail/#queryfail talk was a bit overwhelming. We all fail sometimes, but I think most people out there are doing their best in this world, and that's worth noting, too. Thanks for this!

rantonson17 said...

I have not yet had the pleasure of working directly with an agent, since I am new to publishing. However, as a newbie, I am grateful for the opportunities I've had in recent months to "visit" with various agents by reading their books and/or following their blogs.

Thank you to each of the following agents(in no particular order, and with apologies to anyone I forget):

-Jessica Faust and Rachelle Gardner for offering informative websites and blogs, complete with specific but friendly insights into what they like to see from authors

-Nathan Bransford, whose fun and informative blog has led me to discover blogs such as Jessica's and Rachelle's, and whose website is filled with equally useful and practical advice for writers

-Betsy Lerner, whose book The Forest for the Trees not only offers keen insight into both editing and publishing, but also provides illuminating descriptions of the different types of writers and helped me see where I fit into those categories and how to improve my habits

-Noah Lukeman, whose books The First Five Pages and The Plot Thickens have been praised by many; I have learned a great deal from both (sometimes to the dismay of my characters!)

More than the informative websites and the funny and insightful blogs, though, I am thankful to these agents for being accessible, down-to-earth, and sounding so friendly and interested in supporting authors that I feel really encouraged about the whole writing process.

Of course, writing is a business, competitive and not for the weak-hearted; but based on what I've read from these agents, I would consider it an honor and a pleasure to work with each of them if the opportunity arose, and I thank them for giving us writers a bit (and often an awful lot) of encouragement. I doubt I would be as serious about pursuing my writing career if not for people like you.

I simply cannot wait to finish one of my novels so that I can get started on working with an agent.

Kelly said...

Thank you for:
1. Agents who blog. I know this has been said, but to those of you who take the time to make posts on the publishing business, writing, etc... THANK YOU. I've been helped by several agent blogs and as soon as I finish my novel, the agents who have helped me are on my query shortlist.

2. Agents who take the time to read hundreds of queries a day and STILL respond to each and every query. While a rejection is not always fun, responses are always wonderful. I know this takes time out of the ever-growing to-do list and appreciate agents who still take the time to respond.

3. Agents who take the time to respond with a personalized rejection when they think an author is not quite there, but on their way. This is something extra that the agents don't *have* to do and yet there are many agents that do it anyways and that is awesome.

4. Agents who are still in the business. It's getting tough, and it's good to know there are still agents who believe in the industry and are willing to work to get the books they believe in published.

5. Agents who accept queries, period. Many agents have a full plate with their existing clients and could very easily close their doors to new writers and only take queries on referrals from existing clients or contacts but the fact that they are still open to putting up with the avalanche of letters and emails that comes from accepting queries is commendable. It's nice to know that you don't necessarily have to have connections to get published. You just have to write a great novel and a fabulous, professional query. Most dream jobs do not operate like this. With most dream jobs, you can't just write a letter stating your case and expect to get the time of day.

Being an agent isn't easy, I can imagine. It's a tough business and it's hard enough to go to bat every day for authors but to add on the negativity that will come from some makes it even tougher.

So kudos to all the above-board (read: those not on the 'author beware' list) agents :)

Julie Weathers said...

In no particular order.

Kristin Nelson, Jessica Faust, Jennifer Jackson, Jonathan Lyons, Lucienne Diver, Janet Reid, Nathan Bransford, Miss Snark and Rachelle Gardner for having interesting blogs which are also supply a wealth of information and encouragement.

When I was querying in a past life, all we had were the books. The information was often out of date and it was a total crap shoot about what they really wanted and how they wanted it. There were guidelines, but the books were already out of date by the time they published.

I kept all my query letters and the rejection letters. I cringe now when I look at them because I really did some stupid things. Where was #queryfail, Miss Snark and all the others then?

Thankfully, you all take time out of your busy lives to blog, archive helpful information and continually put out valuable advice.

Special thanks to Richard Henshaw. I sent him a query for my suspense novel years ago. He wrote back a personal rejection saying he loved the characters and writing, but he was so swamped with present clients he was afraid it would take longer to do my manuscript justice than I deserved. He asked me to think of him if I didn't find an agent soon or had another work in the future.

It may have been a form rejection for all I know, but I know he at least read it and he made me feel like he was honestly trying to be fair to me.

Nathan Bransford always stays positive and posts some wonderful information. It's like a course in publishing.

Janet Reid. She makes me laugh and she encourages me. Regardless of how the manuscript turns out, I will always be her number one fan. She has a way of cutting straight to the chase that sometimes bothers people, but I find it utterly refreshing. She is a pure delight at a conference.

Jessica Faust and Miss Kim. Bookends doesn't mind tackling the hot topics. There is always a lot of good information here as well as fun for all.

Jonathan Lyons for sending me a pm and suggesting two awesome agents when I was whining about him not repping fantasy.

Rachelle Gardner for having such a fun, uplifting and helpful blog.

Jennifer Jackson for query wars. Love it.

Rachelle Vater. Pure awesome with a smile. A fascinating woman to visit with and a remarkable agent. Everyone I spoke to who met her commented on how wonderful she was.

Donald Maass. His books and workshops are well worth the money and time. I haven't spoken to anyone who didn't learn from his classes. Even though I want to pull my hair out and scream, his advice is spot on and worth the Tylenol. It's not always easy, but the results are worth the pain.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for having this prompt today, BookEnds. Sadly, I don't think it's going to counteract the negativity of your earlier agentfail prompt. Just goes to show that good intentions often backfire, for agents, for writers, for everyone.

I'd like to praise all the blogging agents and editors, including, of course, BookEnds; especial thanks to those who respond to commenters. Your opinions and suggestions are very helpful, and it's much easier for authors now than ever before to craft a good query, target submission appropriately, find professionals in the community willing to help. Thanks so much.

green ray said...

Last night I was number #200 and tonight I think I'm number #100. I guess more people like to complain. But, I have to tell you, as a former actor, literary agents are FAR better than talent agents in the way they treat people. I left the acting business for that reason. In spite of certain gripes, lit agents in general are a polite, civilized bunch. I'd love to see an Actor's Agentfail. It would be much, much worse. Their favorite word is: NEXT!

Elissa M said...

What? Only 100 comments? Maybe a lot of those agentfail comments were repeat snarkers...

Like most of these posts, I give thanks for all the agents who blog and freely give their time to educate writers about the publishing business.

I have to also give a shout out to Writer Beware, and Predators and Editors, who are clearly in the writer's corner.

And I'm extremely grateful for all the online writing communities, where people who live far from the madding crowds (like me) can connect with fellow writers.

There is much in this business that is good. We all should focus on those things, rather than stew in vitriol.

Anonymous said...

With one exception my experience of searching for an agent has been remarkably pleasant. Kudos to the agents who take a few seconds and write a short sentence for rejections. While it's not as long as form rejections, the personal touch is really nice.

Maribeth said...

My agent is brutally honest, encouraging, tenacious, and savvy. For 17 years, I sold books without an agent, but now, with the publishing climate changing so rapidly, I can't imagine being in this business without one. It is a team approach, too, and I've been thrilled with the process. Kudos to a fantastic agent!

Fawn Neun said...

Kudos to the agents who take time out of their day to keep writers updated; Jessica, Nathan, Janet, Kristin, Rachel. We love you.

Thanks to the agents who know there will never be another Miss Snark and don't try to emulate her.

Thanks to the agents who respond quickly, yes or no, and allow me to get on with my life.

Thanks to the agents who take the time to comment on partials and fulls.

Thanks in particular to Kim Lionetti, who amusingly had the same problems with my ms. that I had before I sent it. :)

As for writers that send in to my lit 'zing:

Thanks to writers who understand that when I decline a short story, it isn't personal. I know you don't because you keep submitting work and I love that. Just because one piece won't work for us, doesn't mean I don't think you're a wonderful writer and another piece won't be a perfect fit.

Thanks to the writers who don't mind making revisions and take my suggestions for improving a piece seriously.

Thanks to writers don't think they need to suck up.

Thanks to the writers who do some of their own self-promotion - you are helping all of us, really.

Keep writing.

Keep agenting.

This really is a collaborative effort.

garridon said...

I don't have an agent yet (still hoping), but I do have my own good experiences here. I run a pitch session at a writer's conference and have seen some great things:

1. One agent was unable to attend because of a last minute family problem. One of the other agents took all her pitches in addition to his own. We had to work with him personally to help get him through all those people, but he saw every last one of them.

2. This one kid came in--probably eighteen or nineteen. Scared to death of the agents. We tried calming her down, but she was just too nervous. Got her over to the agent, and he made it a good first session for her. She came back smiling and happy she'd done it.

3. We always end up with a situation where we have a writer who was scheduled, but for whatever reason isn't able to see the agent (it ranges from they were given the wrong time, to their agent being called away, to the writer being late, etc.). When something like this happens, we let the writer wait while we start checking in to see if any agent can see them. In all cases, the only times the agents have refused to see the writers has been because they don't rep what the writer has. Otherwise, they've been gracious to take them, even when it means skipping their break.

Julie Weathers said...

I thought this was for agents and, writers... aren't any agents out there going to say somet positive things about writers? I'd love to hear some. Queryfail was so disheartening, it would be nice to hear an agent talk about the successes and the writers they love working with.--

If you follow agent blogs, they quite frequently mention why they like working with certain authors, what an author can do to impress an agent, what authors actually did to impress agents, what makes an author a pleasure to work with etc. So, in reality, every day is authorpass day.

Julie Weathers said...

Since I am now kind of awake, I'll add some more.

Jacqueline Winspear. I met her at Surrey IWC in the elevator several times and each time she asked me how I was enjoying the conference. Later, I had a blue pencil with her and she was incredibly helpful. Very nice, very professional and classy lady as well as being a talented author.

Paul Stevens editor. I had a pitch appointment with him. I stumbled through my canned hook and he smiled when he should have groaned and rolled his eyes. We started talking about the main and the research I had done into the premise. He mentioned the trophy buckle I was wearing and said I obviously knew horses so that was a plus. It devolved into a discussion about Celtic and Sarmatian women warrior burial mounds. He asked how long it was. 165,000 words, but I'm trying to get it down to 135,000 words. Handed me a card and told me how to submit.

I'm sure these agents and editors get mortally sick of people stuttering out their speeches, but they find a way to put the person at ease.

Bernice Lever. A poet and teacher who graciously accepted a blue pencil with me even though I write epic fantasy. She gave me some very valuable advice on the manuscript even though she kept reminding herself, "Prose, Bernice, not poetry."

Jo Bourne, who has two Rita finalists this year, and is always so gracious with advice about writing. Such a talented writer and a gifted teacher.

Diana Gabaldon who is another very talented writer and yet finds time to teach and offer advice.

All the agents, authors and editors who do workshops and conferences. They really do make a difference.

Anonymous said...

I'm basically dittoing Carmen. My agent has a No Reply=No policy as well. The agency doesn't have a website. He doesn't blog or Twitter.

What he does do is respond to my emails almost immediately, from my query letter onward. What he does do is always, always keep me in mind when talking to editors; he's always looking to make a connection for me, to interest someone in my work, or to interest them in the idea of working with me at some point in the future. What he does do is always, always come to the phone immediately on the rare occasions when I have to call him about something, and what he doesn't do on those phone calls is rush me off the phone; he always has time for me, even if I'm just indulging in a few minutes of OT insecure moaning when the actual business part of the conversation is over.

He reads my submissions quickly. If a question comes up here's there.

I'm very happy, and consider myself very lucky; and as Carmen said, if I based my submissions solely on whether or not I would get a response, and whether or not the agency had a website, I never would have queried him. I'm so glad I did.

I'm grateful to all the blogging agents for taking the time. I'm grateful to all the blogging editors, as well, and to Evil Editor specifically. I'm grateful to everyone at Absolute Write and Writer Beware, and to all writers who take the time to post information on writing and publishing on their blogs (something I do as well). And to all of the agents, editors, writers, everyone who make up this community; who post on Twitter, who spend time at Facebook, who let us get to know them. I'm grateful to the agent who rejected me, but when I signed with my agent actually visited my blog to congratulate me; to the other agents and editors who have occasionally visited my blog and commented, as well. It means a lot, even after you have books on the shelves.


And to add another Miss Snark story...when I signed with my agent I emailed her and got a wonderful, enthusiastic response. When my book sold I emailed her again, and got an even more delightfully enthusiastic response; I literally had to leave the room for a minute, I was crying so hard and didn't want to scare my kids!

Dawn said...

I got a phone call from an agent today. She called to explain why my book wasn't the right fit for her and then offered suggestions on where it might be a better fit. I was so thrilled I couldn't use my words.

Anonymous said...

Great stories! So why don't you give credit to these fab agents and ID them? You'd do us all a huge favor!

debmarshall said...

Thanks to blogging writers, agents, editors-I learn so much from you all, and know my writing has benefited.

Thanks to the agents who have replied and encouraged us to carry on-"this work has merit" helps when self doubt does creep in.

And in the same breath...

Thanks to the agencies still open to submissions. These are the-no reply means a no thank-you. Their other option is, I'm assuming, being closed. (there are a couple that are way up on my list, based on who they rep, and experiences of those being repped by them)

Thanks for having a web presence, a site, a blog, a page on publishers market place, agent query and so on...makes the researching "tip of fingers".

Thanks to the writers who blog about their agents, or share on boards who their agents are-helps with the researching as well!

giddymomof6 said...

I want to give a HUGE shout out to my totally awesome agent, Kirsten Manges! She's amazing! And she's been really inspiring and supportive from the beginning! She's even learning a whole new genre just for me, after she signed me on for another genre. The best part is I count her as a friend. Jenni James

Mags said...

Janet Reid took the time to sit down with me at a conference to discuss my book. This was not a scheduled meet, it was her own time. I also had the opportunity to witness her interactions with a couple of her authors. When she gushes about how much she adores her clients, she's either absolutely genuine or she's the biggest sociopath I've ever met.

I didn't catch any other indicators of sociopathy, so I'm going with the genuine thing.

Barbara Poelle, same. Same conference, same obvious respect and regard for her clients. Also, she made me laugh out loud with her phrasing of a request recently, and funny = awesomeness.

Sorche Fairbank also took time out to discuss my manuscript with me, then sent me her notes scribbled on the original, at her own expense (I'd only encluded SASE for response, not for the materials).

Rupert Heath passed on the partial with a long response that was kinder than most full requests. When I thanked him, he responded with another long email sharing further thoughts about the book and it's place in the current market.

Holly Root is responsible for said funny email from Barbara Poelle. I've dealth with her twice now--once for each book--and I'd totally throw down with anyone who dissed her. Seriously.

Author Randall Peffer spent a lot of time with me over the course of two conferences, on his own time, to discuss my work and give advice and guidance. He's awesome distilled to it's essence.

Author Sophie Littlefield is soon to be published, and watch out. She's easily my favoritest about-to-be-a-superstar ever. She's unbelievably nice and funny, and freakishly supportive of anything that breathes.

There. Two agentfails, eight agent/authorpasses (including the one a little way up about Ben LeRoy), and I didn't even have to think about these. There are certainly many more.

The market may have gone to hell, but the people working in it haven't. Not by my math, anyway.

I'd also like to thank the Academy.

kristin-briana said...

While querying my first novel I received a rejection on a partial that informed me how much the agent loved my voice and character, even though she wasn't crazy about the genre (YA fantasy.) She invited me to re-query with a more contemporary novel, and she returned my partial ms in an envelope...with a cookie recipe. AGENTWIN!!!

Honestly, I have had hardly any bad experiences with agents. I understand the reasons for "we can only respond to queries we're interested in" and I appreciate the "dang it, we'll send you a response even if it's a rejection because we're just that determined." I appreciate both form rejections and personalized rejections. I especially enjoy form rejections that are polite and encouraging - because it shows that even though the agent did not have time to write a personalized rejection, they care enough to be polite and courteous.

Southern Writer said...

I have no agent and nothing ready for submission, but I can tell you about three great agents I'd throw down for. The first needs no introduction. Everyone remembers the lovely Miss Snark. I remember when my friend Sonya first told me about her. I clicked over to her blog and remember saying, "Man, she's kinda mean." ROFL Naturally, she taught me more about this business than I could ever have dreamed I'd need to know. One of the things I learned was that she wasn't really mean. She was kind and charming and someone you would want to spend a lot of time with. Along with the next two candidates, she very graciously provided personal content for a birthday video I was making for a friend, which really made it special.

Scott Hoffman and Jeff Kleinman also sent birthday wishes for the video. I knew they'd met the birthday girl, so I sent them an email and asked if they would like to add their regards. I had replies and all the material I needed from them in less than fifteen minutes.

None of the three had to do it. They could have ignored my requests or taken weeks to get back to me, if at all. It's small kindnesses such as those that tell me these are three NICE people, human people with hearts, who I would love to have represent me if I could pick from every agent in the world.

morphine-moniza said...

I love love LOVE agents and writers who blog and help out newbies like me by writing about the industry. Publishing would have been completely unfathomable to me without all the wonderful blogs. I'm from a tiny country that doesn't really have much of a publishing industry so i really wouldn't have had any access to agents or editors if it weren't for the lovely informative blogs.

Anonymous said...

What about the wonderful agent of a friend, who offered to answer any questions I might have, even though he passed on my partial, because he knew my querying situation was unusual and because he's a nice guy. I've taken him up on his offer, and he's responded quickly and kindly several times to questions. That's agentpass, for sure.

Tina M. Russo said...

Agida. That made me laugh. I only hear that word when I go home to Buffalo, NY.

Kenny Celican said...

I'm still reading the comments on the AgentFail thread; I'm a day or two behind what with the day-job search and all. However, in light of the repeated comment of 'have an autoresponder for queries', I have to give a shout-out to Bliss Literary and the Onyxhawke Agency for doing just that. In both cases it was a simple 'the internet has not eaten your submission', but that's exactly what I was worried about, really. Also, for Onyxhawke, points for posting one version of his guidelines and linking to it everywhere else rather than reposting, meaning there is only one 'official' set of guidelines.

Vic said...

Janet Reid; what a class act she is! I am always inspired by her professionlism. I'd give anything to have her represent my genre.

Donald Maass; An incredibly inspiring dose of reality with every word. What more can an aspiring author ask for?

Nathan Bransford; for going above and beyond the call of duty to educate and inform.

Venus Vaughn said...

Thank you for this. I haven't had any dealings with agents yet (except for hearing them speak at our local RWA) and I wrote down the name of every agent mentioned in Agentpass. They will be on the top of my list to query.

It's a shame to see the paltry number of writer's mentioned - but probably for the best too, given the business.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Rachel Vater added hand-written comments to a rejection. They were lovely and helpful. I took all her suggestions.

Janet Reid for her "Holy S* you can write!" She's a dear friend too.

Three editors kept me writing too. I still quit once a week. But Pixie Warrior saw publication. I small history book comes out this year. Two short stories are out there. I seriously would have given up if not for the two agents named above.

... And ... other authors ... A. C. Crispin who made me rewrite my first chapter more times than I can count. Hi Ann!

Medi (I'm not sure he'd want me to include his name) who is expert on medieval arms and armour who pointed out flaws in my pixie princess's adventure with a sword. How nice that was.

My editor too. Deena Fisher is very insightful.

And he from Xanth who sent kind words when one of his books knocked mine out off the number two spot on the mobipocket best seller in fantasy list. Pixies pouting! Indeed!

All these things mean much to me.

Janet Reid especially has sustained me with kind words through discouragment and ill health. Thanks so much.

Only Messages said...

thanks man its really helpful

Anonymous said...

I know I'm way late to chime in here, but couldn't resist. Just call it agentpass month. In a burst of excitement, I called (yes, yikes, major faux-pas) an agent I'd submitted to after I received an offer to buy directly from a publisher. I now realize I was still small potatoes to the agency world (this was not a big publisher). Still, this agent actually called me back to say she understood why I had called, but was still passing. I thought it was 'agent awesome' that she took the time to personally call me back to tell me rather than leave me hanging- which I would have understood once I'd realized my blunder.