Thursday, February 5, 2015

Agents Do Get Excited About Submissions

When I started up Greyhaus Literary Agency, I remember having a chat with one editor from Tor
books. We were talking about expectations of submissions and so forth. Her comment to me shocked me at the time, but today, I can see what she meant. She simply said that roughly 99% of the submissions she saw were "crap". Wow! 99% I thought?

Today, I am not so sure 99% is an accurate number, or the reason for rejecting the project might not be so much about the quality of the work, but the mis-marketing of the work, but we are still looking at a huge number of rejections.

I am not the only one who sees this either. At the end of every year, many agents like to post their submission numbers to give writers an accurate perception of what they are working with. The number of rejections vs requests, and for that matter, rejections vs taking on new clients is a huge difference.

But today, I don't want to talk about the rejections (he says after 4 paragraphs of doing so). I want to talk about the positive side. As an agent, I do get excited about submissions or those great pitches we hear at conferences. I see these projects as really being the "diamond in the rough". It is that one project the back of my brain screams, "Yes, this is AMAZING and it will be THE book you are looking for."

So I request the project. I want to see more. I want to read this amazing book the author has just teased me with. And, like the authors, I sit back and wait for it to arrive in my INBOX so I can immediately get to reading it.

But what is most disappointing is not seeing that project arrive. The author may have had a change in heart. Maybe the story was not finished. Maybe the author had a panic attack and wasn't ready to move on. Sometimes, the author just took that pitch session because it was open, or just sent the project out as a part of a mass mailing, but never really wanted to work at Greyhaus. This is frustrating.

I do believe there are writers out there who believe editors and agents really aren't interested in signing on new clients. They seem to believe we are only out to protect those we have and that is it. This is far from the truth. We are looking. We are interested. In fact, just this week, one editor I have worked with asked specifically to keep an eye out for some new projects because she WAS looking.

I know I have mentioned this in another blog post before, but I want to mention it again. I think this goes right back to that excitement and desire to see projects.

There was an author who pitched 3 books to me at the Atlanta RWA Conference (not the last one but the one prior in Atlanta). It was Historical women's fiction. It was a Chinese Alternate History. I requested fulls of all of those. If you are that person, or you know that person, AND that story has not been published, I AM STILL INTERESTED!!! Yes, this person did not send me the project and yes, I did have an editor interested.


  1. What a shame the author missed the boat. It's hard to imagine going to the trouble of attending a conference, pitching, generating interest, and then letting it drop. I hope you do get the book of your dreams.

  2. I would read that Chinese Alternate History book. That sounds fantastic. I love alternate histories.