The Reason for “Rules”
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: Aug 23 2010
Believe it or not there is a reason behind every “rule” agents have when it comes to querying. The reason isn’t to make your life crazy, but to help give you a better shot on the road to publication.
On the BookEnds website we advise all authors to put the word “query” or “submission” in the subject line of their query. The reason for this is that we’ve set up our spam filters to push those words through. If “query” or “submission” come up in the subject line my server knows not to mark it as spam and push it through, and my email manager knows not to mark it as spam and to file it automatically in my query folder so I can read it later.
Believe it or not there is a reason for our madness.
If nothing else, the rules are set up so that we submitters know better what you like and don't like.
When I teach, I urge my students to follow my guidelines. If I tell them abortion is off limits as a topic, they put their grade at risk if they insist on writing about it anyway.
It's a matter of knowing one's audience.
Jessica, I want to thank you for all your blogs about the do's and do not's of the querying process. Although I have yet to delve into these murky waters, I often link your advice on my page. Thank you again for taking the time to educate the masses.
Rules are meant to be followed. You're right, gosh darn it! And we writers are not above them, especially when it comes to spam.
So true! Now if only agents would follow their own rules, and reply when they say they will…and respond to requested materials in a timely fashion. Like writers, agents aren't immune to rules–it helps speed the process along.
I always try to follow submission rules to the fullest, however, sometimes that's still not enough. The very first query I sent by email to an Agent, never got there. During a followup I was told they didn't receive it anywhere – even in their junk mail. That's why panic stikes fear into my heart every time I press the "send" key. I never know exactly what's going to happen.
P.S. I did actually get an auto-response from one agent saying that my email had arrived. I think this is a wonderful idea for anyone who accepts queries in this manner. It is a relatively easy thing to do and it assures us neurotics that "our baby" is safe.
Rules meaning how to write a proper query letter as well. No gimicks, please give it to me straight. I have had several writers complain to me about the hoops they have to jump through, but they are such easy hoops!
I love it that agents give us rules to follow that make it easier for everyone involved.
I think the frustration comes from the fact that all agents have slightly different rules, and it can become a serious point of stress when you're trying to match up agents to rules and you worry that you've mixed your signals somewhere because you've researched so many agents. I have to keep an excel spreadsheet to keep it all straight and even then I'm nervous.
Dagnabit. I follow the rules because I respect them and worship anybody that's in a position to publish a book by a writer. And I still get rejection, after rejection, after rejection.
Maybe it means I'm on the way! Or that I try too hard.
Why do querying writers try to get creative in the subject line? I know it's a problem.
Oh, those naughty queriers. What will they do next?
Now these rules I understand perfectly. I'm an IT manager (which includes an Exchange Mail Server) in my other life.
I'm totally confused. You mean to tell me there are REASONS for rules? They're not just made up on the spot, like 83% of statistics? They're not just meant to confound us and cow us into not asking stupid questions? Hmmm… I'll have to rethink my bid for Senate.