Thursday, December 16, 2010

Goober Writers Anonymous--Carol Riggs

Goober Writers Anonymous is a group for writers to vent about past or present writerly mistakes for therapeutic reasons, to educate others, or just for a laugh.  If you would like to join the group and sign up to submit a guest post, please leave me your email address in the comments below.

Perks of joining:  You get to put the nifty little badge on your blog (yes, this does indeed make you cool), sharing with others and being a part of a group is always fun, and I will put a link to your blog on my blog below under Members of GWA.

Another of my great Goober buddies has sent me a post, but I need more!  Next Thursday will be the last Goober post until the after the new year.  If you've got a story you want to share, leave your email address below in the comments or email me at the address to the right.  Thanks! 

Today's Goober blogger is Carol Riggs!  You may remember her other goober post about the downfall of speedy revisions.  Check out her blog if you haven't already and say hi! 


To agent or not to agent. Yes, that was the question. I never thought I would need an agent. Pshaw, I thought. I can send out submissions myself--I'm not helpless--so why would I need an agent to do that? Like, some writers are soooo lazy.

Yet after reading more about agents online, stalking Nathan Bransford's informative blog while he was still an agent, and attending an SCBWI-Oregon session given by a live agent--Michael Stearns of Upstart Crow Literary--I began to see things differently.

Imagine, agents do other things than submit! How about that. They negotiate contracts, help shape and fix your manuscript for editor submissions, act as mediator between you and your editor, submit to publishing houses that are closed to unsolicited manuscripts, etc, etc. Okay, I thought. That is worth the 15% or thereabouts that they get, especially since more and more publishing houses are closing their submissions to unsolicited manuscripts. I do need help with all that gnarly business stuff.

I know, writers CAN get published without an agent. They do so all the time. But the publishing market is tight these days, and why knock myself out if I don't have to? Why spend time submitting endlessly and standing in line at the post office when I could be writing? Another delightful benefit is that agents take email submissions. Yay. Because getting rejected via email is a lot cheaper than printing up and sending my manuscript via ye olde postal service.  

So here comes the bigger mistake, besides the misconception that I didn't need an agent. 

I started out sending out my queries ONE at a time, on 3-4 novels. Weeks and weeks went by. A rejection. The very same day one came back, I would zing it out to a new agent. I felt so efficient. An additional week would pass…or many weeks until I'd get another rejection. Lather, rinse, repeat.  (Okay, except for Nathan; he broke my rejection record and boomeranged one back to me in an HOUR. Mumble, grumble.)

Yes, I'd heard that some writers sent out scads and oodles of queries at one time, but I somehow thought that was just wrong or unethical. Like agents should be given exclusives, because well, they're special. And, because a few agents actually ask for an exclusive, or at least want writers to let them know if the query is a multiple one. So I thought that focusing on one agent at a time was their preferred way of being contacted, even if they claimed to be okay with multiple querying. Besides, it's hard work to research agents and find a "fit"; sending out one query at a time was easier and less time-consuming.

Months later, I finally read some things online that made me rethink my query policy. Everyone seemed to be doing multiple querying. Agents really didn't seem to mind. I amped up my submission process, and altered my submission log document accordingly. Lately, I've sent out--gasp!--six whole queries at a time. I'm still a little appalled at hearing how some writers send out batches of fifteen or twenty at a time.

Hey, don't laugh. I'm working my way up!

Great post, Carol!  I must admit I made all these mistakes, too.  I'm still only sending out five at a time (at most).  Sure it may take forever, but at least you don't risk burning through a bunch of agents if you find your query still needs work.

Thanks for sharing!

So how about you, dear readers?  How do you query?


  1. yup! i sent out one query at a time too, back when i thought my book was ready (aka when it was WAY not ready)!
    but!!! a conference with michael stearns!!! did you scream like a twelve-year-old at a jo-bro concert or just swoon? :)
    thanks for the advice about multi-querying! that'll be hard for me as well if i can ever get to the querying stage! :)

  2. I try to send out batches of 5 per week, which is one per day. I've made adjustments to the query letter, and the MS throughout the process based on the feedback, or lack thereof.

  3. Haha! I'm glad you re-thought the qyerying process. Life really is too short to hang around waiting to hear from agents one by one.


  4. Gosh it's been too long since I last visited (holidays and writing!) but your blog is adorable... super adorable!

    I haven't sent out queries yet but I hope to have devised a plan by then!

    Just a reminder! Be Jolly By Golly Blog fest is this Monday! Melissa and I look forward to reading your entry!

    Unedited & Jules and the Stars


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