I get it, it must be frustrating to be a literary agent and receive hundreds of unsolicited, poor-quality material, but I’m here wondering if these angry Agents and Publishers aren’t creating their own demise. It is not all of them but still more than I expected.
In my research on how to submit my recently finished book to an agent, I’ve learned that the proper process is to send a Query Letter, and see if the agent wants to receive a submission; if and only then, you send a cover letter, with summary and submission and many other details; then you wait, possibly for months. If no agent wants to represent you, you may try to send directly to publishers, the reason being that it seems that if all the publishers have already rejected you, no agent will agree to represent you.
While reading the agents and publishers website I kept being assaulted by exasperated people right and left.
They sounded like angry teachers:
- Do not send unsolicited material.
- We repeat: Do not send mail that needs to be signed for.
- WE DON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS!
- We do not look at work which is under submission to any other agent or publisher.
- Do not send the whole work.
- Do not send cassette tapes, CDs, or video tapes.
- Binding: please don’t. We prefer that the material should be in the form of loose sheets, unbound, held together by string or cotton tape.
‘String? Cotton Tape? Printed sheets? What?’ If we writers test the patience of the agents, I’d say they do it right back at us. String?
The general tone of many Agents and Publishers websites is that we, the writers, are basically the scum of the Earth and we will be immensely lucky if they deem us worthy of their time.
There are lots of rules and regulations screaming at the reader with a thousand rules. There is a tone of lack of patience, of tired people that will take months to look at your query or manuscript but, in quite a few cases, want you to only submit to them.
I felt empathy for what they seem to go through but doubt that this is the best way to go forward in the long term.
We have to consider the changes in the publishing industry. No wonder so many authors are Self-Publishing, it is not encouraging to have to sift through angriness just to learn how to submit your work.
I have heard of many books that first made best sellers then were picked by the publishing world, it might not take long for authors to prefer going their own way. With many publishing houses and book stores closing down and going through serious restructure, I think professionalism and curtesy would be a better strategy.
I am finding harder and harder to pick which books are publishing mainstream and which are home-published, in e-books and at Amazon I simply search for what I like and don’t even look at the publisher. It is not impossible that Agents and Publishers could make themselves superfluous.
I do have the utmost respect and love for the job Publishers and Agents do. I miss the quality of the writing world before the self-publishing advent, which I’m guilty of. I miss going through a list of books knowing they are all professionally edited, proof-read, and picked as the cherries of the written word. But the reality is that that world is gone.
On the other hand, becoming a self-publisher is also a lot of work, and I’m not good at promoting and selling my books, getting freelancers to help me out every step of the way is time-consuming and at times, frustrating. That is why I am choosing to submit to agents and publishers and hope for the best. I did manage to pick some good agents and create a healthy list [see here how to create your own list].
My point is that maybe it is time for these angry Agents and Publishers to find a friendlier way to interact with their potential Authors. I find it strange that they are willing to treat badly the same people who will bring them their income. Instead I would suggest they should find better processes, include checklists for authors to follow before submission, for example. Interactive forms, where the applicant has to add the essential information, processes that would guide the aspiring writer to do it right, creating a healthy relationship from the start.