Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why do they request your material?

This one always boggles my mind.

Why do agents and editors request material from writers. For that matter, why do they request full manuscripts from writers?

Oh, I know the comment they always say. I really can't make the decision until I see the manuscript. Yes, this is 100% true. I agree with this and I certainly wouldn't make a decision about any writer until I saw the material. Still, why do they request the material if the writing isn't what they are looking for?

As an agent, I try really hard to make it clear to writers what I want in a story. I post it online, I state it openly at conferences. I know when I open a submission or when I read a query, or when I hear a pitch if the story is going to work for me. Why? Because I know what I want.

When I hear editors and agents make the comment, "I'll know it when I see it." I think they are trying to say, "my gut instinct will tell me." I have had several stories that jump off the page at me just like that. I have heard pitches that scream to me like that. I know what they mean.


What I think they are really saying is "I really don't know what I am looking for." I certainly hope that isn't the case, but I do think it is.

I actually was sitting down with an editor once and we were talking about submissions. I told her about some of the writers I had and she questioned "why was I holding out and not sending her the stories." The answer was simple. I knew she wouldn't want the stories because it wasn't what her company would want. And yet, she still wanted me to send the stories.

I have even heard editors and agents openly say they request everything because they want to be nice. Huh?

Now, here is the funny part. This same editor, and I have heard others say the same thing, complain frequently about the amount of submissions they have to sort through every day. Why? Because of the situation just like the one above. They ask for everything.

O.K. so other than listening to Scott rant again (wow this is going to be a good week) what does this have to do with the writers. Easy answer.

1) Know that they request everything so don't get excited just because they asked doesn't necessarily mean they are interested.

2) Do your own research and know what they like. If they won't do it, figure it out for them.

1 comment:

  1. It would appear to be the week for rants and I'm enjoying them!