Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Agent for a Day

Yesterday, I spent most of the day polishing a new wood floor we installed over the weekend. In between coats, I participated in Agent for a Day on Nathan Bransford's blog. He invited writers to send in real or fictitious queries and then selected 46 of them to post on his blog. Interspersed in the mix were four query letters that worked, sent in by authors that the book is already published or will be soon.

Our job as the "Agent for a Day" was to go through the list, read them and respond with either a rejection or a request. We were only allowed 5 requests.

Let me tell you, it was so interesting. I started out with personalized rejections commenting on things that could be fixed, but it wasn't long before I was just tired of trying to point that out to people--or I got to one with so many things wrong that I didn't even know where to start.

I know understand why many/most agents send form rejections. It isn't their job to tell us what's wrong, it is our job to help each other figure that out.

Another thing that struck me as I was doing this was how many authors ignored some or most of the rules. And, as NB said, these queries are sent in by people who follow his blog and volunteered for this, these will be better than his regular slush pile. It stunned me how many people simply didn't follow any directions whatsoever.

In spite of this, I think most of those participating found themselves having a hard time deciding which requests to make. There were simply more great ideas than 5 and it was tough to narrow it down. One even put it in his form rejection "I am sorry to say I cannot request anything further at this time. I am only allowed 5 requests a day and I have used them all."

... Boy, I tell you what, if I got that on a form rejection I would be quite angry. I am sure we all get rejected by agents because it's just a bad day or whatever at some point... but to say that in the rejection would be foolish. I know he was just doing it for sake of the contest, but I just laughed when I read it.

Last note, but not least. I was sad to see that Nathan had to patrol the comments to keep people from being downright rude about queries. I'm so disappointed to see that. There are ways to help people know what is wrong without being hurtful and if you aren't skilled enough to use words in that way then you shouldn't be a writer. These people put #queryfail to shame.

On that note - say something nice to your writer friends today. Encourage them. We'll all be better off if we're in this together. :)

Oh, and look! My new floor!!


  1. I am jealous of your floor! It looks fabulous! Glad you could do the agent thing. It sounds like it was a great experience for a lot of people.

  2. I read a few, didn't comment on any, but I hear what you're saying. Whew.

    Congrats on the floor too!

  3. Nice floor! I participated in Agent for a Day as well and think I'll blog on it tomorrow or the next day. It was hard, but not in the ways I expected. We'll see how it turns out.

  4. Lady Glamis - Thanks! I love it :)

    Jenn - Thanks! Yeah, it was quite the experience.

    Cindy - Cool! I will watch for your post :)

  5. Beautiful floors!

    I popped over to Nathan's blog and read some of the queries and responses. I can see where you would get really tired of reading them all. That only reinforces in my mind how you really need to make your query stand out (in a good way).

  6. Melissa - So true! Queries are crucial in this industry, no if's and's or but's about it. :)

  7. I blogged about this too. :D

    Wasn't it so fascinating? I really feel like I understand agents better after this.

    So, which were your five picks? Mine were 9, 20, 24, 36, 38. I really, really wanted to pick 10 and 18, but I couldn't.

  8. Funny, I didn't participate but I loved reading the comments - which is what I blogged about today. Actually, I'd prefer a short and sweet 'no thank you' from an agent as opposed to some flowery words that still mean no - if they're not going to give personal feedback, which I in no way expect, of course!!! Of course, manners are important. I was also sorry to see that the comments needed policing.

  9. I love your last sentence - yes, we should support each other!

    and I love those floors! oh! beautiful -- I love wood floors....

  10. I'll have to go over and look and Nathan's blog. What a great idea.

  11. Great minds think alike! I just posted a blog about Nathan's experiment. LOVE the floors. :)

  12. Hello! Bumped into this blog and just wanted to leave a comment. I took a little time to spy on the Agent For A Day experiment and was amazed at how quickly I felt overwhelmed! Now I have a lot more sympathy for agents. I can't imagine doing that every day plus trying to manage a list of clients and run a business.

    ps - noticed your mormon mommies blog. I, too, am one of those! very fun!


  13. Your floor looks great. I read some of the queries, but there was no way I could read all of those with everything else I had to do.

  14. I'll have to check out the Agent For A Day. Do you mind if I add you to my blogroll? I don't know where else to send the request, so here will do.

  15. Your floors looks perfect. I love your closing sentence that we should support each other so as to cloud more successful people together. Visit me at my blog and look forward to your guidance and advice, if you have the time to do so, Cheers and have a fruitful day everyday,

  16. Your new floor is gorgeous! I LOVE it! And I love Nathan Bransford, he's simply amazing isn't he? What a great idea for everyone! i'm glad you joined in the fun! Jenni PS I'm BACK! eeeh!

  17. Renee - It was very interesting. To be completely honest, I can't remember. I need to look it up and see. I think 38 was one... it's all a blur now. LOL THIS is why you are supposed to put your original query with your partial! Because a day later, the agent doesn't remember anything.

    Amy - so true, it really was surprising and sad he had to do that. And, yes! The comments were fascinating.

    Kat - Thanks!

    Jessie - definitely, you should check it out.

    Karen - Thanks! LOL you know how long it took. :P

    Tess - Welcome! So nice to meet you. I will go check out your blog in a bit. :)

    Lotusgirl - Yeah, it really took some time.

    littlescribbler - absolutely, go ahead :) Thanks for wanting to add me!

    JamesOh - Welcome! nice to meet you! I will be heading over to check out your blog today. I got your e-mail too and will respond soon.

    Jenni - Yay! hello again! :D Thanks for loving my floors! :)

  18. I still haven't been by to check that blog.
    But your floors are gorgeous. You would cry if you could see the sad shape mine are in.

  19. Floor looks great! I hope doing those chores releases the creative side of your brain to work on your WIP. :)

    I found the Agent for a Day experiment really interesting also from the bits I read.