Querying literary agents is a miserable business.
Back in the day, it was kind of exciting (when I was still naive enough to expect the first agent I queried would shout: “Hurrah! At last!” and offer me a 5-book deal and a seat next to Sophie Kinsella at the next authors brunch). But mostly, its just miserable. Lots of rejections and lots of simply not hearing anything–which somehow is even worse. I’ve met some agents and follow a few blogs. They all recognize they’re “woefully behind” and appologize for taking so long to get back to us eager, hopeful, wretched writers. Below is just a taste of what we have to deal with. /sigh/ Are you feeling at least a little of my pain?
(PS: I doubly appreciate the cake advice. Must try soon.)
GK, do you have a blacklist? I hear this is something other agents have done. And am I on it? It’s been a really long time since I’ve heard from you. I sent two check-ins [dates included–which I will not repeat here because they were a long time ago] and never heard back.
Wow! That’s a thing? I had no idea! It makes sense, though. When you’re in touch with so many people, and put in the position of saying no to such a personal aspect of life and work, there will inevitably be the few who threaten to set you on fire.So, though I wouldn’t consider it a formal one–and it contains fewer that five people–yes. All for fire-like offenses. I like myself uncooked, thank you. And wear appalling amounts of sunscreen to stay that way.
Now, in terms of not getting back–I am horribly behind on my correspondence. In this particular case, I’m especially behind because it’s a matter of knowing (over email) the writer, wanting to give a really good response of the “here are the things you have to do to make this work” variety–but, with expectations like those, very little actually gets done. And then I feel guilty for not writing for so long. And thus wait even longer.Yes. In a weird twist, I usually take longer to get back to the people I know and like.To give you an idea of how incredibly behind I am, I haven’t responded to my real-mail penpal since February. And you know how much of an advocate I am for real letters. (Really. Send them everywhere! Even a well-placed line or two can make a huge difference. I’m sure most companies assume that, for every real letter, there are ten or twenty people who have the same opinion but are too lazy to write.)So, yes. I do have an informal blacklist of 3-5.But, if you haven’t made any flammable threats, you are not on it
In reference to the “you’re probably not on GK’s blacklist” post:
Definitely the first thing you should ever acquire when querying is a stolid (and by stolid I mean Death Star impenetrable) sense that it’s all business and nothing personal. That way you don’t make up funny things like ‘I must be on a blacklist!’ or, ‘They’re reading Elvis’ manuscript before mine! He must’ve gotten back from that alien ship!’
The second things you should acquire, of course, are a really good muffin pan and a bag of homemade frosting.