Marketing Update: Agents and Bookstores


Back in the thick of marketing as I’ve finished the literary agent research this week for another batch of queries.  I truly wish that there were more agents interested in representing hybrid fiction and specified it in their likes and dislikes.  This time I decided to try agents who love science fiction as well as other genres. 

Yesterday I mailed the snail mail queries.  I prefer to query an agent by snail mail actually.  It takes a lot more effort which demands more effort in consideration and response from the agent.  I e-mailed the e-mail queries this morning.  Almost immediately I received an “out of office” notice from one of the agents — she would be out of her office all next week.  Fine.  No rush.  About 25 minutes later, I received another e-mail response from the same literary agency, this time from an assistant who had sent me a form rejection.  Only 25 minutes later?!!!  I’m usually cool about rejections because of long experience but this one angered me.  There’s no way anyone can convince me that my query had been thoughtfully read and considered.  By an assistant and not the agent.  I thought briefly of resubmitting to the agent in a couple weeks, but then I thought, hell no.  I probably wouldn’t want to be at that agency if that’s the way they work and respond to writers…..   I know that often assistants will be the first eyes to read a query, but usually the agent also has some input, either through discussion or actually seeing the query him/herself.  Or the agent has given the assistant a long list of specific things to look for in a query, and also the deal-breakers.  At any rate, I wan’t terribly pleased to hear back so fast from an agent this morning.

So, now the waiting begins….

Next week, I plan to follow up again with the agent who requested the manuscript of Perceval.  He’s had it now for about 9 months.  I hope to scare up some kind of response this time, even if it’s a “sorry, we haven’t had a chance to read it yet” response.  The silence is deafening from him.  I continue to reassure myself that he liked the sample chapters well enough to ask for the complete manuscript….

Another marketing note: next week I plan to find a market for the excerpt from Perceval and submit it.  I need to get that out of the house.

For people who wonder about how booksellers choose the books they sell in their stores, I found an excellent blog post about it here: http://antickmusings.blogspot.com/2008/10/on-being-skipped.html. All writers need to know this information, and especially the details about printings and sales.  Bookselling is a tough business.

And what business isn’t tough right now?  As other businesses are assessing their balance sheets, so is publishing in all areas — publishers, booksellers, agents, packagers, printers, distributors.  For the last five years or so it’s been tough for a fiction writer to get published.  I don’t even want to think how much the current economic landscape has spooked people in the industry.  Books endure.

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2 responses to “Marketing Update: Agents and Bookstores

  1. I think you’d be surprised how busy agents are. While I certainly empathize with your plight (I’ve been there, and am still there, in attempting to contact agents for my own work), an agent (who accepts unsolicited inquiries) gets maybe a hundred queries per week, and has time to take on maybe one of those projects. If you divide the number of hours per week by a hundred, and add in everything else they have to do, I consider myself lucky if they even take the time to respond – it means they respect my query as one that isn’t wasting their time, which is probably better than half the queries they get.

  2. I’m not at all surprised that agents are busy people since I’ve been doing this for a while myself, i.e. querying agents and editors. The thing is, is anyone NOT busy? I know I’m not NOT busy. Agents know, like the rest of us, that it’s necessary to be organized and manage time well. Some do, some don’t.

    My gripe was not about agents being busy, but that an ASSISTANT had replied in less than half an hour. If the agent had responded that fast, I would have questioned how much consideration she had given my query, but it wouldn’t have angered me the way this did, especially when the agent had requested in her submission guidelines that writers e-mail her directly, which I did. She was out of the office, the assistant wanted to be efficient and clean out the mailbox, and that’s all she wrote.

    As for the agent who’s had my “Perceval” manuscript for almost 9 months — I just don’t want him to forget it, you know? And I don’t want to be a nag, either, but I mean, what’s a writer to do? (laughing)

    The whole world is “busy.”

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