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Why Agents Purposefully Make Your Life Harder

In the history of BookEnds, we’ve made a number of changes to our submission process.

When we first opened our doors we accepted both queries and submissions via snail mail. While email did exist, it was mostly used for business, not personal correspondence. This meant someone was tasked with carrying a mail bin into the office each day to sort through packages and queries. It also meant reserving anywhere from 3-4 precious bookshelves just to hold submissions. It also meant carrying mail bins back to the post office each week to mail back our responses in their respective SASEs.

And then email became something everyone had and used, so we switched our submission guidelines to email queries only (no unsolicited attachments) and stopped taking snail mail. This certainly made the process faster and considerably more economical for the author. While we still responded to (and still do) the occasional snail mail query that includes a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope for you young’uns) nearly all of our queries were now overwhelming our inboxes.

So we made another change. We each received our own dedicated query email address. This helped us more easily separate daily work emails with editors and authors from queries. It helped us to compartmentalize our tasks. It also meant we set an automatic reply on our everyday work email to say we were no longer accepting queries at this address and the author should email the query address.

But email has its limitations, spam filters being one of the biggest concerns, so when we were approached a few years ago to be beta testers for Query Manager we jumped on board. The idea of a query database that not only allowed us to receive and respond to queries and submissions but archived and tracked everything we personally received, as well as everything the agency received, was too good to pass up. At the time we agreed to give QM a six month trial period. By month two we knew we were never going back.

But we still get snail mail queries, and we still get email queries to both email addresses, and we still don’t accept those. Most of us have an automated response to any queries we receive via email (because we do respond to everything) telling the author that we now only accept queries via QM. We do this so that everything is neat and tidy and in the same spot. We do this so it’s easy to track a submission when it comes in and find it later when the author checks on it. We do this because it makes everything easier for us. So when an author responds that she refuses to jump through hoops just to make our lives easier it’s fine, but note we aren’t doing this just to make your lives harder. It is our hope that with this streamlined process it makes all of our lives easier.

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6 comments

  1. Are you perhaps expected to just through hoops to make the author’s life easier?

    Hi Ladies, hope all is well. I’m just about back in the world of writing, and the bookends blog is a lovely place to start.

  2. And you don’t want to work with an author who won’t jump through such a simple hoop to get published anyways and only thinks of her own comfort and convenience and not her agent. 🙂

  3. Well, this wasn’t what I expected. I thought you were going to talk about agents who demands synopsis, or agents who are NORMANs (NO Response MeAns No), or agents who want comp titles, blood group, and dental records before they even get to the body of your query. OK, that’s an exaggeration. I’ve never had an agent ask for my blood group. 😉

    Telling me how you best want me to send my query to you is NOT what I consider a hassle. Glad to do it. 🙂

  4. I haven’t queried BookEnds yet, but I have writing friends who have and they all agree they love the system from their side of the fence as well. To be honest, I would have thought a system where you don’t worry about whether or not the query has been received would be embraced by writers!

    Hollie, lovely to see you back =)

  5. The author needs to understand the volume a typical agency receives on a weekly basis. It’s easy to pretend we are the only writers you will ever hear from.

    “Bryan, where have you been? Finally, something to read.”

    Okay – back to the real world. When sending our work to you we need to keep in mind the hard work on your end. By having this understanding and showing you respect it will make our working relationship a lot easier if our relationship continues down the road.

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