Monday, November 11, 2013

This Is One Frustrated Agent

No, this is not a rant about a writer. This is really not an issue that makes me mad. As the title suggests, this is really a frustration that I do believe can be fixed. Of course, that might just be the guy in me that thinks he can fix things...who knows. The point - I'm frustrated.

I have seen a lot of this in the last two or so years, but the problem has really be increasing significantly. A day does not go by when I find myself having to write rejection letters to people who are really not getting it. These are author who are trying. You can sense it in their voice and you can see it in the work they are putting into their submission packets. But, it also becomes very clear that these are writers who have the odds against them in terms of seeing a true publishing career. They will become discouraged and quit before they figure out they have the power to fix the problem.

They just have to take the time to learn.

I think for me, the reason for this blog stemmed from a query I had just received. I have taken the time to eliminate a few details from the query because it is clear this person is trying. Still, I think the author's words say it all.

 [I]am not sure exactly how to write a query letter, so please forgive me for doing it wrong. I am an eighteen year old girl from the middle of nowhere. There is absolutely nothing remarkable about me; I’ve never really excelled at school, I am average at sports, and basically life. There is only one thing that I’m good at, and that is writing. I believe that you are either born with the talent, or you’re not. It’s not something that can be taught. I was going to write to you, asking you if you would be interested in a horror story that I have been working on for four years. I have reworked it many times, but then I read on your page that you are looking for ghost romance story. I actually have one of those; I would have to take it off the shelf and dust it off, but I have one. It’s not a typical one; the main characters don’t end up having sex, nor do they have a nice and tidy ending, but I have one, if you would be interested in that. I know that I am probably doing this way wrong; I am sorry, but if you are interested in looking at either story, 

This story is a tough one to deal with as an agent. Why? She is going to get a rejection letter for this but it isn't because of a poorly written query or the fact that this person is 18. Heck, this girl needs to be applauded for finally doing something. She will be rejected because I don't represent the genre. What is worse is that she does has apparently done some research and knows that I would love a ghost romance, but that isn't the one she sent. But that is not the point for today.

This is a writer that can be fixed! This is a writer who apparently has the passion, but needs one thing to get her to that point that she can do something. She needs EDUCATION! And, by the way, if you are reading this, don't be discouraged. We just have to get you down the right path!!!

This writer is not unlike a lot of writers out there. We have to take the time to learn a craft and learn the business before we jump into the middle of it. In reality, think about it. Do we just wake up and say we are going to be doctors or lawyers? No! We go to school. We spend our time in high school learning about the field we might want to go into. We spend time in undergraduate and graduate courses to learn how to do the craft well. We intern in positions. We do residencies for medical professions. We learn.

And yet writers sit down at a computer, write a story and send it out to be published!

Unlike this writer who believes, that you are either born with the talent, or you’re not. It’s not something that can be taught. This is where she misses the mark. You can be taught to write. You can teach yourself to write. You can learn to write. Now, being a NY Times Best Selling Author might not be in the cards, but you can learn and develop to become a successful published author. But it is going to take time.

Look, the markets are shifting all of the time, but writing and publishing simply will not disappear. Writers have to take the time to learn and understand what they are doing before sending out those manuscripts to every editor and agent on the planet only to get those rejection letters.

When I opened the agency in 2003, one of my goals, other than to represent romance and women's fiction was to open the doors to education. I keep this blog going to hopefully remind and inspire authors of the need to education. I also use this to teach when I get that chance. It is for this reason I always encourage authors to "ask questions" and learn all they can.

Again, I applaud this author for not just hiding away with this story and doing something. I want her to also realize the doors to education are always open but she needs to take the next stem and go through those doors.

And for all of you other authors out there- PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE. Don't feel the pressure to start publishing if you are not ready. Don't just jump into things unless you are ready. Learn and grow. I promise, you will know when it is time to submit a story. Your gut will tell you so.


  1. One day, I gathered enough confidence in myself to write the novel I formed in my head about ten years before. I wrote- what I thought was - the entire book. Then I joined a critique group. I also joined an online writing community. Since then, I have learned an unbelievable amount of information, and I also know that I still have more to learn. But that learning should never stop, even after I've become published. Congrats to the person that sent you the query quoted above. May she be put on the right path to learn her craft!

  2. Great advice, Scott. I agree, writers need to quit feeling sorry for themselves and think that their talent is all that matters. If you want to get paid for writing, then you are embarking on a business. And a business has its rules.