Author Topic: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)  (Read 361 times)

Offline Viddiest

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Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« on: March 16, 2021, 05:37:40 AM »
Dear Agent,

I am thrilled to be querying you with my non-fiction proposal, HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE AGENT. I think it would be a perfect fit for you because I had you in mind when writing this work.

This is an #ownvoices submission. I have had experiences with scores of ineffective agents during my yet-to-take-off writing career (as a result of their inefficiency).

Proposal Outline - 5 steps to becoming an effective agent.

Chapter 1. Stop using Twitter

Many an agent is known to while away large swathes of time on this inefficient social media platform (how inefficient to split one complete thought into 280 character length tweets in the first place!) Suggest recycling saved time into 1, reading queries. 2. responding with yes/no and 3. reading submissions.

Added benefit - staying the hell away from scandals and spats.


Chapter 2. Grow a heart

Many ineffective literary agents are in fact ineffective because they have cold cold hearts and are barely sympathetic to the plight of the writer. This is evident when they complain about the thirty seconds it takes to respond to a query to squash the writer's long-held dreams. Many a writer will gladly take dream-squashing over ghosting, but no, the cold-hearted agent chooses the latter option again and again.
Ineffective as this behaviour can result in the "psychopath writer' whom the agent so fears.

Chapter 3. Stop lying

Ineffective agents pretend they are interested in a whole heap of genres when in fact they are looking for the same book written over and over again with just a few variations. One look at their sales disproves their claims. Their websites are garbled and make it impossible for the writer to clearly discern what it is they are interested in.

Chapter 4. Stop assuming queriers are psychopaths

If there is anything we have learnt from the current climate, it is that one cannot paint everybody with the same broad brush. Assuming we are all psychopaths and withholding responses as a result does all writers a huge disservice. There is anecdotal evidence to prove the opposite is the case. Case studies of writers experiencing psychopathic agents are provided in this section.

Chapter 5. Connecting is a choice

Ineffective agents pretend they cannot "connect with the voice" in order to avoid taking real risks with original writing. This is largely due to the fact that they like to read very narrowly (see chapter 3) and cannot recognize good writing if it hits them in the face. Connecting isn't a passive activity. It involves choice, one the ineffective agent does poorly.

Chapter 6. A quiz- Are you an Ineffective agent?

1. Do you complain about how little time you have to read in a pandemic when you are in lockdown and conditions are optimal for reading?
2. Are you itching to go to twitter to complain about this query letter?
3. Do you fail to 'connect' with this query?

I look forward to hearing back from you soon. Otherwise, what does it say about the kind of agent you are?

Yours sincerely,
Not as yet completely disgruntled writer


« Last Edit: March 16, 2021, 05:44:08 AM by Viddiest »

Offline Odd John

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2021, 09:49:22 AM »
Droll, very droll...

Also, these m*f*cking Agents clearly have never read the greatest writer ever born (besides me): A dude named Ernest Hemmingway, who fammously said, "Only connect!"

Clearly they have reading problems that go beyond the simple chore of perusing query letters!


            - Egbert Thropshire III
« Last Edit: March 27, 2021, 09:16:49 PM by Odd John »
My inferiority complex masks my superiority complex. It's very convenient.

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Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2021, 10:14:33 AM »
This is fantastic! I was laughing out loud (might be the sangria I drank with lunch).
Special highlights:


Chapter 1. Stop using Twitter

Many an agent is known to while away large swathes of time on this inefficient social media platform (how inefficient to split one complete thought into 280 character length tweets in the first place!) Suggest recycling saved time into 1, reading queries. 2. responding with yes/no and 3. reading submissions.

- Seriously, I follow most agents I am interested in on twitter, and don’t understand how they have the time to be active on social media when they receive 100+ queries a week which they *don’t* have the time to send an auto response to!

Chapter 6. A quiz- Are you an Ineffective agent?

1. Do you complain about how little time you have to read in a pandemic when you are in lockdown and conditions are optimal for reading?
2. Are you itching to go to twitter to complain about this query letter?

- Yes! Yes! Yes! I finished my manuscript in 2020, read 118 entire books, recovered from COVID (twice!!!), fed a family, and helped two kids with online school. Why can’t an agent set up a series of auto replies when they aren’t interested in a query? - 10 second click at most?

I thank you and hope you don’t mind me chiming in with my “bitchfest.” I appreciate all the hard work agents do.


Offline Viddiest

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2021, 12:07:20 AM »
Thank you Odd John and MsGreta.

I am so glad you're ok MsGreta. Impressive reading 118 books! Care to share your top 5?

Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2021, 03:20:28 AM »
Hello Viddiest, There is no way I can narrow my list of 118 books down to the top five, but here is my year recap that I posted on Goodreads:

I read/listened to 118 books in 2020, making it difficult to narrow down my favorites. To help formulate my “best of” list I reviewed those books I gave a 5 star rating and realized that some probably deserved a 4 (they’d been less memorable), while others I’d only given 4 stars to, left lasting impressions. At this moment on the eve of a new year, these books were my standout favorites, in no particular order:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner - this author was my favorite discovery this year. (I also loved The Flamethrowers - 4 stars). I am, I am, I am (and This Must be the Place - 4 stars) by Maggie O'Farrell, another author new to me, who wowed with her language. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer - her book saved my soul during the toughest days of quarantine. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell blew me away with the protagonist's inner psychoanalysis and explained motivation. Half of a Yellow Sun (and Purple Hibiscus - 4 stars) by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie cemented this author as a genius. Olive Kittridge and its even better sequel Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout introduced me to my favorite unlikable protagonist. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer and Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates validated my love for historical fiction. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier was my favorite classic read. The Hours by Michael Cunningham influenced my writing more than any other read. Gorgeous. Homeland Elegies by Ayad Akhtar was my favorite book written by and about a man. Girl, Women, Other by Bernardine Evaristo featured my favorite ensemble cast. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado was my favorite poetic memoir and The Midnight Library was my most commercial read that satisfied me in unexpected ways. Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramović about her life, only got 4 stars, but her story stayed with me and inspires my creative life.

I can’t avoid mention of these other honorable reads:
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Larry’s Party by Carol Shields
Hiroshima by John Hersey
Mrs. Bridge by Evan S. Connell
Luster by Raven Leilani
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Night Boat To Tangier by Kevin Barry
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Want by Lynn Steger Strong
The other Americans by Laila Lalami
If I had your Face by Frances Cha
Salt on my Skin by Benoîte Groult
Motherhood by Sheila Heti
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
The Light between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Offline Viddiest

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2021, 03:38:14 AM »
Thank you! Such a great list. I have saved it. I have read a few of these authors. All of Adichie’s works including her short stories. Love her. As well as Bernadine Evaristo. I read Larry’s party a long time ago. 
Overstory, Queenie. I just download How should a person be by Sheila Heti recently.
Did Jenny Offill make it on your list?

I am just happy not to find Normal People in your list. If I read one more MSWl Wishlist requesting the next Normal People, I swear I’ll scream. I did it read it and enjoyed it but it’s definitely overrated in my opinion. 😂

I have heard so much about Mars Room, but haven’t gotten to it yet.

I am trying to read more European fiction. Loving the works of Javier Marais.

Thanks for sharing.

Offline Odd John

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2021, 07:59:59 AM »
MsGreta:  That really is an impressive list. I have an informal rating gradient for the fiction I read. It goes like this:


                0.  Throw it in the trash. If it's winter and you're low on heat, burn it! Yes, I said it. Burn it!
                1.  Give it away to someone who will read anything.
                2.  Unfinished. Unreadable. Give it to the library for their book sale.
                3.  Damn that great dust jacket! A mostly boring read.
                4.  Passible. Will not be re-read.
                5.  Not bad. Will not be re-read.
                6.  Pretty good. Will not be re-read.
                7.  Good. Might be re-read.
                8.  Very good. Might be re-read.
                9.  Excellent/Outstanding. Will be re-read.
               10. Superlative. Second highest compliment to an author: Will definitely be re-read.
               11. It changed my life. Will go on my "shrine shelf".


So, my question is: Which book(s) changed your life?  :) :yes: :up:
« Last Edit: March 19, 2021, 08:02:00 AM by Odd John »
My inferiority complex masks my superiority complex. It's very convenient.

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Offline MsGretaGreen

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2021, 08:29:21 AM »
Maybe we should create a new thread with book recommendations?

Viddiest, I did read Jenny Offil’s Weather last year, but I didn’t like it as much as Dept. of Speculation, so it didn’t end up on my shortlist. I’ve read Sally Rooney’s books (both Normal People and Conversations with Friends) and enjoyed them. Her writing is accessible while also digging a little deeper into the complexities of emotion without cliches. I think I have an affinity (or nostalgia) for Irish writers because I lived in Dublin for a year and can vividly hear their voices when I read. I’ll have to check out Javier Marais!

Odd John, those books that truly change your life are rare and far between. When looking at my 2020 list, parts of Braiding Sweetgrass, which reads a little like a series of short stories, touched me the most. The Hours provides some of the finest prose and represents the type of writing I aspire to.

Offline Odd John

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2021, 10:00:16 AM »
Thank you for your reply. You reminded me that I must re-read THE HOURS, a book that rated 9 on my scale. (Outstanding)

There is a category thread called BOOK TALK buried at the bottom of the Home Screen. It's rather moribund, the latest post being from December 2020. I'm surprised it's not more active. Maybe we can "make it so".

            -  John
My inferiority complex masks my superiority complex. It's very convenient.

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Offline jonny_555

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2021, 04:55:35 PM »
They probably represent too many authors in this #ownvoices movement already!
Find the blessing in your curse

Offline Miss Plum

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2021, 11:56:31 PM »

This is an #ownvoices submission. I have had experiences with scores of ineffective agents during my yet-to-take-off writing career (as a result of their inefficiency).

...

Chapter 3. Stop lying

Ineffective agents pretend they are interested in a whole heap of genres when in fact they are looking for the same book written over and over again with just a few variations. One look at their sales disproves their claims. Their websites are garbled and make it impossible for the writer to clearly discern what it is they are interested in.

My favorite passages.

What on earth is with some of these MSWLs? "I don't normally do nonfiction, but I might take a look at something related to cooking, zoology, travel, racial and gender issues, technological advances, history, biography, early childhood education, anything and everything related to politics and current events, and health. I'm a stickler for voice, but give me a good thriller that's written like newspaper copy and I'm game! I avoid genre other than horror, women's fiction, romance, police procedurals, cozies, thrillers, scifi, and fantasy. I specialize in YA, adult, children's, and every topic of nonfiction."

Then on their agency's website: "Read each agent's preferences carefully before choosing one to query."

Offline richardclin

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2021, 02:40:50 AM »

I love this, John. One day when my book is finally published (while we both still walk this earth, I hope), I aspire to hit a 7, 8, or 9 on your ratings scale. Then I will have finally lived a life worth examining...or at least one worth a fleeting thought or two... :wag:

MsGreta:  That really is an impressive list. I have an informal rating gradient for the fiction I read. It goes like this:


                0.  Throw it in the trash. If it's winter and you're low on heat, burn it! Yes, I said it. Burn it!
                1.  Give it away to someone who will read anything.
                2.  Unfinished. Unreadable. Give it to the library for their book sale.
                3.  Damn that great dust jacket! A mostly boring read.
                4.  Passible. Will not be re-read.
                5.  Not bad. Will not be re-read.
                6.  Pretty good. Will not be re-read.
                7.  Good. Might be re-read.
                8.  Very good. Might be re-read.
                9.  Excellent/Outstanding. Will be re-read.
               10. Superlative. Second highest compliment to an author: Will definitely be re-read.
               11. It changed my life. Will go on my "shrine shelf".


So, my question is: Which book(s) changed your life?  :) :yes: :up:

Offline richardclin

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2021, 02:47:38 AM »

I love your favorite agent MSWL. Indeed it seems most read about as crystal clear as the one you highlighted.


By the way, are you the erstwhile Miss Scarlet who killed Colonel Mustard in the study with a candlestick? And then married Professor Plum as part of your airtight alibi?


Sorry, I'm in a corny mood after customizing one too many query letters today so that each agent may connect with my voice.


This is an #ownvoices submission. I have had experiences with scores of ineffective agents during my yet-to-take-off writing career (as a result of their inefficiency).

...

Chapter 3. Stop lying

Ineffective agents pretend they are interested in a whole heap of genres when in fact they are looking for the same book written over and over again with just a few variations. One look at their sales disproves their claims. Their websites are garbled and make it impossible for the writer to clearly discern what it is they are interested in.

My favorite passages.

What on earth is with some of these MSWLs? "I don't normally do nonfiction, but I might take a look at something related to cooking, zoology, travel, racial and gender issues, technological advances, history, biography, early childhood education, anything and everything related to politics and current events, and health. I'm a stickler for voice, but give me a good thriller that's written like newspaper copy and I'm game! I avoid genre other than horror, women's fiction, romance, police procedurals, cozies, thrillers, scifi, and fantasy. I specialize in YA, adult, children's, and every topic of nonfiction."

Then on their agency's website: "Read each agent's preferences carefully before choosing one to query."

Offline Miss Plum

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2021, 02:06:19 PM »

Sorry, I'm in a corny mood after customizing one too many query letters today so that each agent may connect with my voice.


lol, another favorite of mine.

Agency website: "Tell us why you selected us in particular. And don't forget, we are a unique, special, super-attentive agency that wears a cape we are so super-attentive and attuned."

10 days later: "Dear [author], we are sorry we are not intrested in your [proposal/novel/other] good luck elswher."

Offline Viddiest

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Re: Query - HOW TO BE AN EFFECTIVE LITERARY AGENT (Non Fiction)
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2021, 05:52:17 PM »
You totally crack me up Miss Plum and Richard.

Also how about this- "I want something unique and which I've never seen before!" followed by "I want the next Normal People now."