Blogger: Rachel Kent
We received a package today filled with goodies for one of the agents at the agency. This gift was from a writer who emailed a query for a project and mailed the box to go along with the theme of her proposals.
The package cost $25 to mail, and the items inside cost at least that much. But that writer’s query isn’t receiving any special treatment.
While it’s nice to receive a gift, a package like this creates awkwardness. If the agent decides that the project isn’t right for her representation, the hopeful author has spent all that money and time sending something nice for no result. Agents do read query letters carefully, and we determine if the project is a good fit based on what we are personally looking for, what we believe we can place with a publisher, and the quality of the writing. Sending a gift won’t change whether your book is the right fit. The writing and the idea need to stand on their own.
Spending $50 per agent submission is a waste of an author’s resources when submission guidelines are spelled out on the agency websites and do not include a fee of any kind. This type of gift hints that the writer doesn’t understand how submissions work. (P.S. Any agent who requests an upfront payment or gift is most likely a fraud. We are paid by commission on the sale of a book.)
The writer most likely wanted to draw attention to her project, which her package did. But it didn’t highlight it in the way she had envisioned. We simply made sure we had the query.
My suggestion to all of you who are querying agents is to work hard putting together the best query letter and proposal that you can. The query and proposal present your book to us, and that is what we are interested in. The writing and story need to be as strong as possible so they can capture our attention better than any gift could.
What are some effective ways to show an agent that you and your project are something special?
If you have an agent, what do you think was the strongest tool in acquiring one? Did you get an agent through a query letter or because of a conference appointment?
And just for fun: Have you ever received a gift that made you feel awkward or guilty in some way? (Please don’t name names!)