Friday, November 11, 2016

External Lists of Editors and Agents Have Limits

The intentions of these sites are good and noble. The creators are trying to create a clearinghouse that lists the names of editors and agents. Within these lists are contact names, emails, web addresses and certainly what these people are looking for in terms of projects. But these sites have some limits.

I am bringing this up as I work through over 100 new email submissions this morning. As I scanned through the list quickly, I found that far too many authors have used these web sites to get the contact information. The end result? These are all submissions for genres Greyhaus Literary Agency does not acquire. The limits these websites have is entirely user error, and by user, I mean the authors.

First of all, let's simply start with the websites. Again, the creators do a pretty good job of keeping up to date with the information they post. But as we all know, this industry changes a lot. What was good one month may completely change in three months. Some of the other sources rely on changes and recommendations made by the authors as they get information. Like Wikipedia, many of these changes and notes are added but not necessarily verified so now there might be some chances of information that might not be quite right. It doesn't happen all of the time, but I have found places where people have done this with my submission information.

But here is where we find the real problem. As I said, it is really user error. Far too many authors are simply not doing their homework before sending out submissions. These authors simply grab those email addresses and start firing off their works to the editors and agents. They are then shocked when they receive a rejection letter.

I have received responses from authors after I sent a rejection saying they thought the information on that external site was simply "the things the agent is looking for at that specific time." They believed that the agent or editor still acquired a lot more beyond what was listed.

I am always amazed at the fact that my listing on most of those sites says two major things: A) that I acquire only romance and women's fiction; and B) [this is the big one] that authors should visit the website of the agency and review the submission guidelines before sending any information.

Had these people visited the site, they may have found that their psychological war thriller set in Korea is simply not romance or women's fiction. But more importantly, they would have discovered exactly what I want in a submission. This last part is very important.

I have spoken here about first impressions all of the time. When you send a submission, that is the first impression you are making with a potential editor or agent. If your first contact shows you simply cannot follow directions, we have to question whether or not the problem is your literacy skills, or you are someone who will be difficult to work with.

Sure, these sites provide a starting point for authors, but that is all it is - A STARTING POINT. You should not simply start firing off those manuscripts without taking the time to visit the website, read exactly what they want, send only that information, and start off on the right foot. You might find some greater success with your writing career.

Now, I am off to reject a few more of those authors who, if they had read this post earlier, might not be getting a letter from me today!

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