Let me preface this post by saying I am well aware that agents have a hell of a task before them when they take on an inbox full of queries. Even my eyes start to glaze over when I read the 25-50 queries posted in contests such as Miss Snark's First Victim or Cupid's Literary Connection, so I can't imagine combing through queries on a daily basis.
I know it makes sense for an agent to judge your writing based on a sample of your writing. But I also know it's daunting.
And it's for this exact reason that I have to wonder if queries are really the best way to get an agent's attention. I'll tell you why:
I recently participated in Brenda Drake's Pitch Madness contest, where 5 different agents put in bids on pages from my LYM manuscript.
- One of them bid after already rejecting my query.
- Another had my query in her inbox, but hadn't responded yet. She requested my full manuscript from the contest. And a week or so later, sent me a form rejection on the query I'd sent weeks earlier.
I'll be the first to admit, the pitch Marieke wrote for me was pretty freaking awesome. But it's basically a 35-word summation of the same events agents would read in my query letter. And while I am EXTREMELY grateful for my requests, I have to wonder: why would they reject the query, and not the pitch?
Were they just sick of reading queries on the particular day they read mine?
Did they actually not see the query at all, and an assistant rejected it? (In which case, should they really be letting other people screen their queries, since everyone's taste is obviously different?)
Had they been requesting romance up the wazoo before they read my query, and rejected based on that alone?
Were they playing eenie meenie mynie moe?
There's any number of possibilities. But the question all these possibilities raise is this: Does every query really get the attention it deserves?
Lately, I feel like the answer is no.
I recently trolled through entries in a contest I entered, but ultimately did not get chosen for. So you can probably imagine my indignation when one of the entries I read - an entry supposedly screened and hand-selected by a panel of readers - had glaring spelling and grammatical errors.
And you can imagine my outright horror when multiple agents requested on it.
So I have to ask - Did anyone really read the damn thing? Or did eenie meenie mynie moe strike again?
All of this tells me that there really is no rhyme or reason to this querying biz. An agent can reject a query one day, and then request pages from a pitch on the same project the next day. One day they're on Blogger or Twitter putting queriers on blast for silly mistakes, and the next they're overlooking them.
So is the query letter really as important as everyone makes it out to be? Or is good luck what you actually need the most? Have any of you had similar experiences?