Monday, August 26, 2013

How Not to be a Creeper

So, over the weekend, I read a literary agent's blog. Yup, the entire thing.

See, I'm a writer (you may have noticed). And I have some novels. I have some query letters for said novels, some better than others. So I've got a file on my desktop called "Literary Agents", containing several files, each named an agency I think is appropriate to direct some of said novels to. Each agency file then contains the agency web site, the name of the agent I think is most suited, with contact info and specific submission guidelines (most people would probably make a spreadsheet or something. I never acquired that skill, nor had anybody suggest its usefulness to me).

Some of these agents, and agencies, I'm following on Twitter. Some have blogs I follow as well. Some agents and agencies I follow because they're so damn smart, and helpful, and clever, not because my books are necessarily going to be a good fit for them. Sometimes I think that, and then see a new thing they're representing, and have a glimmer of hope. I've tweeted some of these agents, and commented on some of these blogs. These gestures of research and commitment are good for somebody who wants to get published.

But, the agent whose blog I've read. Over the years, she's blogged about some books I've heard of, some I've read, and some I've never heard of and now have on my library reserve list. She loves some books that I love, and I kept smiling over those discoveries, thinking "It would be so Goddamn cool to be signed by her. Or just friends with her."

What I'm not doing?

I'm not going to start emailing and Tweeting her about our perceived connection. I'm not going to take my research and information gathering into cyberstalkerness. If and when I query this agent (maybe as soon as Friday; we'll see the state of the query and pages at that time), it will be without reference to those books (which have no relation to my project, not even in my throes of literary references), it will be without reference to shows I've known she's seen, beverages she says she likes, and I'll leave Elka out of it. Even though she has dogs too, my manuscript (for once) contains them only rarely.

Because you know what? Agents are very public. They have all kinds of people who "know them", who they've never heard of. They have all kinds of people who "know them" who might get a little too familiar, or stalkerish, or downright creepy. Some of these people may not even mean it, or realize it, but it happens.

We're all special snowflakes, and people who query agents are convinced their book is the Next Big Thing™ and will make everybody piles of money and be a movie and all that. Really, it takes that kind of conviction to face querying a novel; query letters are hard, and rejection really sucks. But not everybody succeeds, not every book is a movie (thank God), and not every book makes somebody piles of money. Even if you do get accepted, not every advance is bajillions of dollars that will let you quit your day job and buy an island off the coast of Africa.

So, consider this when considering agents. Own your special snowflakehood, but don't be a creeper.


  1. The internet makes it SO EASY to be a creeper. I mean, you can learn everything about everyone. Very scary. You're so right, though; just because these agents put info out there does not mean they want to be your friend. They are business people who have real lives outside of work. The fact that we can learn about those real lives does not give us an excuse to bring their real lives into a business conversation. Love this post. Very, very smart! Good luck with querying. Sounds like you're ready to make a good impression :)

    1. The Internet does make it so easy to be a creeper, and even if you don't necessarily mean to be! It's a matter of course, now, to Google people, and you end up learning things about their lives that might not have otherwise come up in conversation.

      Thank you very much! I hope that I do.

  2. Thank you for this awesome post. I am so glad that I found it and had a chance to go through the same.
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