Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Literary Agent For a Day

What if you could be a literary agent for a day? I don’t know about you, but here’s what I would do:

First, the slush pile has got to go. If it’s paper, burn it! Or if you happen to be eco-conscious, shred it and turn it into compost. These days, with the Internet from shore to shore and around the globe, there’s no reason for anyone to be sending a 300+ page manuscript as a physical document. Any author who hasn’t figured that out, I’m sorry you wasted your money on postage, but take heart in knowing that your story is doing a great job helping my daisies grow better.

Now that we’ve established that I won’t be accepting paper manuscripts, lets move on to the electronic slush pile. Anyone who sent a paper manuscript is welcome to resubmit to the electronic slush pile, but don’t be too hasty. I won’t be accepting e-mail submission either. I don’t need an inbox full of manuscripts either. Instead, I need everyone to resubmit their manuscripts through my new web based Manuscript Handling System. In the fields provided, give me a brief description of your book, identify the genres and include a synopsis. Tell me about your platform and why you are the best person to write this book. In the last field, past the complete contents of your book. You’ll be lucky if I read more than the first paragraph, but it’s a waste of my time to request additional material. So, since time is far more important than money, let’s trade hard drive space and bandwidth for time. If I’m at all interested, I’ll have your manuscript available so I can go right ahead and read. That way, I won’t have to spend time later trying to remember what I liked about it.

I can’t promise a personal response. I don’t have time for that, but I will promise feedback. If you want it in the form of an e-mail message, go ahead and check the “e-mail me” box at the bottom of the form. Otherwise, visit the website often and check the status of your query. After you first submit, the status will be “submitted.” Once I have viewed your query it will move to “under consideration.” It will stay in the “under consideration” state until I decide either to reject your query or to offer representation. If I reject it, the system will display the reason why I rejected it. The system will not allow me to reject without reason. Reasons include, “Reject – poor writing,” “Reject – genre not selling,” “Reject – submission incorrectly formatted,” “Reject – don’t represent genre,” etc. There are others, but I think you get the idea. If I choose to offer representation, the system will simply say, “Offering Representation” and you can expect to receive correspondence from me. It’ll be sometime today, since I won’t be an agent tomorrow.