Friday, October 12, 2007

Query Pile

Jenny Rappaport from Lit Soup explains why she can't give you an update on the status of your query. Ditto for me.

No Phone Calls Please!

Do not call an agent to pitch your book! I can't stress this enough. If agents took calls of this nature they would never have any time to get work done. Think about it - I get more than thirty queries a day, and usually more - and if I had to have a three minute phone conversation with each author about their project that would mean I would spend an hour and a half of each day talking about a project without getting any sense of whether you can even write! I can evaluate a written query far faster than you can pitch it orally, and I'll actually get a sense of your writing style as well.

Every agent I know prefers queries by either email or mail, and you should check their websites or book listings to confirm their preference.

Here are the only valid exceptions that I can think of for this rule:

1) Time is of the essence. For example, you have already received an offer or are expecting an offer from a publisher.

2) The agent was referred to you by one of the agent's clients or associates (for example, an editor or film agent).

3) You have big-time credentials (for example, your work has been published recently by a major commercial house).

In addition, please do not call to follow up on queries sent by mail or email. If you haven't heard back from an agent in a long time about a query, you should follow up in the same format that you sent the original query in.

As for following up on the submission of a partial or full manuscript sent at an agent's request, I personally still prefer to receive a follow up email, and not a phone call, though other agents may feel differently.

So if you've called me or any other agent in the last few weeks and left a voice mail about a new book you have and were wondering why we never called back, and you don't qualify under any of the above-listed exceptions, hopefully this explains things.

A New Blog

Seal Press has started a new blog, with posts from two of my favorite publishing people, senior editor Brooke Warner and publisher Krista Lyons-Gould.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Term of the Week - Industry Standard

"Industry standard" is a term that most often comes up in the negotiation of your contract. Basically, it means that your request should be acceptable because it is the standard practice in the publishing industry.

Knowing what is standard practice is essential before negotiating any contract, which is why I advise either securing an agent or an attorney for these negotiations. While some industry standards are well known, such as paperback royalties of 7.5% of the list price, some are less so (a reservation of rights clause).