Thursday, May 6, 2010

I'm Sorry, There Are Rules - So Deal With It!

In the last couple of weeks, I have seen a lot of writers on Twitter (as well as a few lurking on blogs and social network sites complaining about the rules in the publishing industry. It is almost becoming a regular occurance to see some writer complaining "I can't believe editors and agents are going to reject me over my query letter!" Or, "Give me a break, I have the best damn book out there and this person rejected me because of the first 3o pages!"

Now first of all, don't get me started on the attitude issue of these writers. Frankly, IMHO those "losers" and yes I am calling them that, have no business in publishing in the first place. But besides that point, there is a bigger issue here.

Yes, there are rules we are following here in the publishing community. It is the basic rules of business and professionalism. Honestly, if you can't be decent on some social networking site, or you can't demonstrate quality writing in a query letter, how on Earth do you expect me to be convinced that your book somehow defies the laws of gravity and really is amazing.

Look, is there one correct way of writing a query letter? NO! In fact, you can't sit in a panel discussion with multiple agents and agree with the right approach to the query letter. HOWEVER... there are components that have to be in that letter. End of story.

Let's try this one. If a publisher says they don't accept unsolicited manuscripts, then they don't. Your story is no exception and you will not get any special treatment. I don't really care who you are! I'll even extend on that one. If the agent or editor is currently closed to submissions, sending a query anyway isn't going to get you that request for more material. As you should know if you read this blog, I am currently closed to submissions until the first of June. Still, I am frequently screaming when I see email queries show up for me "What part of closed are you missing here?"

As an agent, I want to find writers that can follow directions and take critique from editors. I want writers that can follow the rules. If you can't do that, then that should tell you why you continually are receiving rejection letters from myself and other agents.

Sorry to break that one to you!



  1. I find it interesting to look at the age of people who say the rules should only apply to everyone else. It's not that everyone my age (mid-50's) is a rule-follower, far from it. But there is a different sense of entitlement floating around that I think may be a combination GenX-Y thing compounded by the ease of social communication via media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube. This is definitely a time of "YOU" in the truly personal sense. Your comments today made me wonder how bad it will get...before the pendelum swings back a little more to the middle. In the world of business I am continually amazed at the attitude/manners of those applying for jobs. Everything seems to apply to everyone BUT them. Unfortunately, the world of writing and publishing is a reflection of the same thing.

  2. So well said. You know, Mr. Eagan, I've got to tell you, I love when you tighten your grip on a subject.

    This is the only blog (maybe one other is close) for telling it like it is. I mean, don't hold back. That is exactly what people need. I LOVE when you get going. There isn't enough of that anymore.

    Well done. I also agree with the message.

    There is a serious "positive side" that people might miss though. For all the people self-involved with their ego, there is an equal amount of people following the rules. Therefore, the rule followers have a better chance than the ones who flout the rules.

    My latest post was on the same subject. I'm aghast at the attitude and disrespect of people in general today.

    Thanks for another great post Mr. Eagan.

  3. Hear, hear! I absolutely agree. Excellent post.