Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stroking the Agent's Ego

I read a bunch of "Advice from Agents" in the Guide to Literary Agents blog yesterday and was struck by the number who said make your query more effective by showing you've "done your research" by mentioning you're querying them because you love some of their clients, mentioning them by name.

This strikes me as awfully needy. Yes, do enough research so you don't send your paranormal fantasy to someone who only handles non-fiction or your thriller to someone who only handles kids' books. Don't waste the agent's time, in other words. But, do we really have to assure them we love their clients, most of whom we've probably never heard of?


  1. I've read that too. I only mentioned an agent's client once and that was because I specifically sought out a particular author's agent. I was rejected.

    I doubt they are really impressed by a mention of their clients. They're probably running through submissions quickly and just want to know what the heck you wrote and if your writing is any good.

  2. I've heard a number of agents say this connection really matters to them. And if you think about it, it's perfectly logical. If you don't know and admire the work an agent represents, then why the hell are you querying him? It's a matter of doing your research and mutual respect. Sometimes genres aren't clearly defined. Just because an agent represents mysteries, for example, doesn't mean she represents graphic police procedurals. Perhaps her preference is cozies. The point is to establish a REAL connection, not to lie or kiss up. You're right. Lying makes no sense. And believe it or not, agents can usually tell.

  3. On the contrary, I've heard agents say that it's meaningless to mention the connection. They have argued that you only get 250 words, so don't blow 25 of them on ass kissing.

    I think it depends on the agent, but I'm not going to sift through 100+ agents to find out what they like or don't like. I just don't have time

  4. I reiterate: it's not ass-kissing if it's sincere.