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Sheri Ables

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Member Since: Apr, 2004

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Timeliness
by Sheri Ables   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Posted: Tuesday, February 05, 2008

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Recent articles by
Sheri Ables

When Nerds Fall From the Tree of Grace
Agent's Number One Tip: Etiquette Please!
Books and Blunders
           >> View all

Patience and courtesy are virtues any writer should possess


Your book is complete. You are ready to sell. You’ve edited and revised, rewritten and printed crisp new copies to submit. Now what? If you plan to query an agent or editor, there are a few things you need to know beforehand.

I have been an agent since 1997. Just when I think I’ve seen or heard it all, writers tend to surprise me, yet again. Recently, I received the following…

Dear sir/madam: The below e-mail was sent to your office in June, 2003 and as an update please DO NOT bother to reply as I have signed a contract with Random House for the publication of the novel WITHOUT the aid of your so-called literary agency. What rudeness and arrogance you people have!!!!!!!! (Name removed to protect the ignorant.)

Hmmm…to reply or not to reply… While my instinct was to reply with some snide remarks of my own, I opted for the more professional choice of refraining. I remember what my mom always said, “Dear, do not lower yourself to their level.” Okay, Mom! I finally get it!

So, what’s an agent to do? Write about it!

First, let dissect this guy’s reply.

Dear sir/madam… A killer introduction for any query. If a writer can find my email address, my name must be nearby. If not…use some of that pent up energy to find it.

There could be several reasons for no reply. It could be the generic introduction or the run on sentence as an indicator of how his novel would read. However, the date “June 2003” gives me the answer.

From April to September 2003, we moved and were in a transition period. During this time, we worked little and experienced the fun of a computer crash. Yes, dear writer man, we were partying instead of answering queries. In fact, we enjoyed much…manually writing everything. We did not have to use the tedious keyboard! Yes, dear writer man, while you were waiting on pens and needles, we were having a jolly good time.

Strange enough, I cannot find this man’s query in our logbook. This means either it was an e-query that was lost, rejected or [hold on to your britches] overlooked. Yes, overlooked. It happens.

We receive dozens of queries every day shuffled in the midst of correspondence from contracted clients, publishers, producers and the junk mail that our filter misses. Of all queries to miss, it had to be this guy’s. It must be a conspiracy. Certainly, that is it. It could not be that we did not like his story, style or found no interest in his work whatsoever. It is a collaboration of the literary masses to halt him from his destiny as a best-selling author. Surely, that has to be the answer!

My response, albeit to myself, “Dear Writer Man, I am sorry you feel this way. Congratulations on your contract with Random. It is my prayer that your editor meets your expectations and woe to her if she fails to adhere to your vision of literary relations.”

I must go now. We have a cake waiting. We are going to place our hands [as a group] on the delete button. The confetti will fall. Dances will ensue as we adorn ourselves in hats of arrogance and cloaks of rudeness. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to go?



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