Monday, January 05, 2015

Query Management

I recently got an invitation to a query management system. To the best of my understanding its a service in which the author submits the query to the company who feeds them to me based on my likes and dislikes, the appropriateness of the query and the condition of the query.

In the email they said specifically that I would no longer have to deal with the following:
1. Authors who don’t listen to instructions2. Incomplete and irrelevant queries3. Email flame wars with wounded authors4. Query-borne viruses5. Lost queries and requests for status reports

Which for some might be great, but for me this is a little too sterile. See part of the query process is using the query to get to know the author. If the author doesn't listen to instructions how does she break the "rules?" Sometimes not following instructions are what endures me to the author. Other times it makes the decision to reject for me. I know it's not someone I could work with.

What about irrelevant queries? Just the other day I got a query for something that I'm not looking for at this time. But the idea was so intriguing I had to request it. If the proposal intrigues me the same way the query did I bet I have a new client in an area that I didn't think I wanted a new client in.

And flame wars. I have a secret love for flame wars. They shake up the day, amuse me and, let's be honest, they give me something to blog about. But, they also teach me a lot about an author. Recently I had a situation where I asked the author to keep me in mind if she wanted to make revisions or for her next work. She sent me back a very condescending, snarky email. Decision made. I don't need to read her work ever again.

As for viruses and lost queries. I've yet to receive a virus from a query and if a query is lost it can be resent.

In other words, I think sterilizing the query process too much can actually be a detriment. A query isn't supposed to be a form. It's supposed to share a bit of the author and the author's work with the agent and we can learn a lot more from what's between the lines than from what's simply on the page.



Larry and Rebecca said...

I love this post. We live in a world that is becoming increasingly impersonal. Yet, we still do business with people, not businesses. I'm sure that the management system you mention is a fit for many agents and publishing houses, but I personally would rather work with someone who, like me, enjoys the personal touch and who recognizes that not everything is set in concrete.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

On the agent side of the offer it does seem sterile but what's the deal on the author side? Do they decide where best to send my query? Do they slap my knuckles with a ruler if I step out of line?
The intermediary thing sounds like authors are allowed to be lazy because the management team does all the work. And you guys get to be safe from little-old-almost-old ladies like me. Yup, you should be a-scared of me. Although, my viruses are best handled by NyQuil and nice cup of tea,decaf please, or I'd be up all night sending you flaming emails.

Elissa M said...

I feel the query process is something of a two-way street. Any agent who uses an outside query management service to screen queries (as opposed to an in-house intern or other employee) probably isn't for me anyway, so the service would be doing me a favor if it rejects my query.

Mostly I think the "service" is a scam aimed at agents (for once) instead of authors.

Tracy Campbell said...

Super post. Sounds like the query management service should be the Predator & Editor list. And my eyebrows almost went through the roof when I read about the snarky reply you received. She or he should be thankful you took the time to respond. Thanks for sharing.

AJ Blythe said...

Not sure that I'd want to send my query through that system. I'd like to know that my query actually got read by you, as opposed to some unknown deciding whether or not it was worthy of your attention.

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...

Carolynn: I haven't checked into it very closely, but I don't know that it provides much of anything to the author. In this case I think it's a database that agents are supposed to browse. I'm not sure anything is really sent out.