Author Topic: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?  (Read 392 times)

Offline tdkehoe

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Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« on: December 04, 2019, 11:01:55 AM »
Could you integrate QueryTracker and QueryManager so that literary agents could see how many rejections a query has?

Authors could prioritize agents in QueryTracker, e.g., Chad Snootsworth is my #1 choice, Lexy Twyford-Smythe is my #2 choice, etc. Then QueryManager sends a query to Chad Snootsworth and he has 24 hours to respond, i.e., it's an exclusive query. If he rejects it or doesn't respond within 24 hours, the query goes to Ms. Twyford-Smythe. Chad can still access the query, but it's not exclusively his anymore.

The agent sees in the dashboard how many times the query has been rejected, and can sort queries so that high rejection numbers put queries at the bottom of the list.

The advantage for the author is faster responses. This could be part of the QueryTracker premium package.

If agents respond faster, authors could send out fewer, better targeted queries. I.e., we wouldn't have to shotgun queries to dozens of agents, many of whom we're not excited about. If authors sent out fewer queries, then agents would have the time to respond faster. There's a virtuous cycle that makes everyone better off.






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Offline kaperton

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2019, 01:53:32 PM »
I've got to disagree with this idea. I want every agent thinking they're the first ever to see my query and they have to jump on it. There's definitely a bias in effect when you know others have rejected something. For example, when I go to a clothing store and they have 25 green sweaters left but only 1 pink sweater, suddenly I have to have the pink sweater! Never mind that I don't wear pink. Everyone else wanted pink, so it's better. Nobody wanted the green, so neither do I. It's not a conscious thought process, but it happens.

I believe I saw this bias when my agent sent my book out to editors. There was a flurry of response within the first few days, then nothing for months. The editors who didn't respond just might not have been interested. But I have to think it was partly because they knew my ms had been sent out to a bunch of other editors at the same time, and hadn't been picked up yet.  Instead of the prospect of reading a ms that could be the next big thing, you're looking at a ms that no one has liked enough to snatch up yet...so it's probably not that good.

It's the same with the query letter. If I'm an agent and I know several other agents have already rejected your query, I'm reading it with a bias against it. But the beauty of the query letter is that as far as the agent knows, they're the first person you've sent the query to. They'd better act fast or someone else will grab it!



Offline tdkehoe

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2019, 10:06:20 AM »
The advantages to us is that we get a definite response within 24 hours, and we get to rank our agent preferences. This would be worth the tradeoff of them seeing how many rejections you've had. In present system your top choices of agents might leave you waiting, while a junior agent at a no-name agency has offered to represent you. But you're right, with this system you'd get lots more rejections, instead of getting no responses, or responses after weeks or months, so it might look worse.
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Offline nmsheldon

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2019, 04:31:56 PM »
I'm new here, but I'd vote alongside kaperton on this. Especially since the initial suggestion points out that the agents are going to sort their list with higher rejections at the bottom.

But, I also don't understand the logic, so maybe there's something I'm missing. How would showing the rejection count on the queries lead to a 24-hour turnaround time for agents?

Offline tdkehoe

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2019, 07:14:01 PM »
Each agent gets a query exclusively for 24 hours. After that the query goes to the next agent down your list. The first agent can still access the query but it will no longer be exclusive. If agents care about exclusivity they'll look through their queries every day. This should reduce the number of queries that agents get, because we query only our top priority agents, instead of shotgunning dozens of agents. Fewer queries should mean that agents would have the time to look at their queries every day.
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Offline Cobalt_Caster

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2019, 04:37:59 AM »
I really don't see how this would work. The main obstacle to agents responding quickly, so far as I understand it, is that they're really busy. For a single manuscript an agent must
  • Read the query
  • Read the entire manuscript
  • Analyze and make a business decision whether the manuscript will be profitable
  • Negotiate a contract with the author
  • Seek out appropriate publishers
  • Pitch the manuscript to publishers
  • Negotiate a contract with the publisher
  • Inform the author of how publisher negotiations are progressing
  • Acting as a legal agent for the author in contracting with the publisher

That's for every single manuscript they decide to pursue, and agents have to pursue more than one at a time to make a living. It's a lot of work! Think how many novels they have to read and then it'll be clear why the process takes so long, to say nothing of the business/legal side of things.

I don't see how your proposal will alleviate this.

Offline Munley

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2019, 10:17:12 PM »
As an author, I wouldn't want QTracker automatically sending out my query for any reason. I always want to be the one hitting the SEND button. And I wouldn't want QT informing an agent of my personal business -- how many agents have already rejected this particular query -- or putting my query at the bottom of some priority stack based on those.

QueryTracker is set up now in ways that honor writers' wishes and needs to make their own decisions on their own time, which can involve re-prioritizing submissions based in new information that comes to light. QT simply offers tools to record those choices and track the follow-up activity (besides offering ways for writers to find suitable agents in the first place).

As an agent, I wouldn't participate in QT or similar site that set up something as coercive giving me 24 hours to make up my mind whether I wanted lose my exclusive chance at a query before automatically passing that exclusive chance to some other agent. You say that the first agent can still request after 24 hours, but I don't see how that makes it exclusive for the next agents down the line.

I agree that it would be nice to find some way of wasting less time on the query process. Just not comfortable leaving it up to artificial intelligence to do my submissions for me.

Offline tdkehoe

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2019, 07:17:07 PM »
I heard that agents spend an average of four seconds on each query. Airbnb gives me 24 hours to respond to booking requests. There's no reason why agents couldn't respond to queries within 24 hours, especially with a system that reduces the number of "shotgunned" queries they receive.

I really don't see how this would work. The main obstacle to agents responding quickly, so far as I understand it, is that they're really busy. For a single manuscript an agent must
  • Read the query
  • Read the entire manuscript
  • Analyze and make a business decision whether the manuscript will be profitable
  • Negotiate a contract with the author
  • Seek out appropriate publishers
  • Pitch the manuscript to publishers
  • Negotiate a contract with the publisher
  • Inform the author of how publisher negotiations are progressing
  • Acting as a legal agent for the author in contracting with the publisher

That's for every single manuscript they decide to pursue, and agents have to pursue more than one at a time to make a living. It's a lot of work! Think how many novels they have to read and then it'll be clear why the process takes so long, to say nothing of the business/legal side of things.

I don't see how your proposal will alleviate this.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." --Philip K. Dick

Offline GLZyx

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Re: Show agents how many times a query has been rejected?
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2019, 02:17:58 AM »
[My] Conclusion (if you want to skip the details): The deduction that agents will rush to sign a new author because they're 'on the clock' is arguable at best. 

Quote
The agent sees in the dashboard how many times the query has been rejected, and can sort queries so that high rejection numbers put queries at the bottom of the list.
 

This system would give every rejection a stronger meaning than what a rejection really is. A rejection is not a formal letter that says a manuscript/query doesn't have what it takes. One rejection is one (or a few) opinion(s) about a specific work at a current (or whenever the rejection happened) time. Not only that, agent A's opinion is immensely different than agent B's, that agent B shouldn't take their opinion into consideration. The only benefit the author gets here is that IF s/he doesn't get rejected, s/he'll have an agent/request for a full manuscript, within a few days and not have to wait weeks/months/years. 
In this process, there are ways to improve it. 24-hour windows can benefit both parties but most likely won't benefit either side. When an agent sees a new query (when they get to it), they open it with pure intentions. There are a million things that can change that. A bad day, missing a cup of coffee, time of day, recent news... Telling them there were five (eighty) rejections before they even got to read it, will only add to that. 

"Twenty rejections? That means I'm choice number 21. I'll just throw it away for choice 22."

What is the author giving up? 

The purity of thought from agents (because getting rejected counts as a double rejection). 
Time for consideration (because rushing the agent will inevitably lead to a higher rejection pool). 

What is the author gaining? 
Time (if the agents agree to these shotgun proposals, and they take the time to consider each query). 
Better targets (if the author knows which agent will be best for them and that agent is part of this shotgun process). 

My opinion: 
Pressure helps when you have who to pressure. Most authors are not the next J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, etc. Agents do not need a particular author, and the author does not need this specific agent. Sure, nobody wants to miss on talent, and no author wants to wait. There's a reason for twitter shotgun days. In most cases the process takes time. Take that time to write your next book, or reconsider what you already wrote.