Do Agents Understand What a Writer Goes Through During the Query Process?

You know, I’m not really sure they do. I follow a bunch of literary agents on Twitter, and yesterday, one of them was saying that you shouldn’t tell the agent that you’re going to be waiting breathlessly by the computer, hitting the refresh button every two minutes because it makes you sound desperate.

So, I can see why you wouldn’t want to say that to an agent. It’s not professional. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to do it. And honestly, it’s not desperation, at least not for me. It’s impatience. I imagine I’m not alone in this, but for me, being published will be the culmination of an almost life-long dream of being an author. I’m justifiably impatient when waiting for an answer that may or may not take me further down that road. If someone is ever given permission to incessantly hit the refresh buttons on a computer, I think it should be us writers.

I know agents say they get it because they feel the same way when they start to submit our projects to publishers, but honestly, do you think they feel the hope and fear at the same level that we do? When their projects get rejected, does it sting as much as when our projects, those manuscripts we’ve slaved over, writing and polishing until our eyes threaten to bleed, get rejected? I don’t know. Maybe they do. I don’t know any agents personally (not yet anyway!) so I guess I can’t really say.

What do you guys think? Is it desperation or impatience for you? Are any of you going through the same thing?

In other news, I received another full request from an agent yesterday. This one is one of my top choices, and I’m extremely nervous about it. I would love love love an offer of representation, but honestly, I wouldn’t be terribly disappointed with a revise and resubmit from her. At least it would be the next step forward!

Also, I’m wondering if you guys like the interview series I’ve been doing. This week’s Saturday Poll will be asking for some feedback from you, so help me out and vote and leave comments!


6 thoughts on “Do Agents Understand What a Writer Goes Through During the Query Process?

  1. I have to say, I avoid my email like the plague when I have a sub out, half-afraid of the rejection and the nerves of what will happen when the offer comes. This is not to say I don’t check it, because I do. I just force myself to only do so twice a day. It helps steady my nerves to focus on another book while waiting as well.

  2. mine is completely impatience. I have a short story out to a publisher right now and no matter how hard I try to get my mind on something else, I still check my e-mail in box for a rejection or acceptance. It’s insane.

    I think they do understand what we are going through, but we have to remain professional at all times. Very, very difficult when our own lives are hanging in the balance and in someone else’s hands.

  3. Hi, I’m new to your blog, but have read two interviews which I found very helpful. Also, since I’m fairly new to writing and not anywhere near submitting work yet, I’m getting helpful insider info from you on what lays ahead if I truly want to be a more serious writer. I look forward to more. 🙂

  4. Patience is not my forte, so I know I’ll be hitting the refresh button A LOT once I start sending out queries. 🙂 However, the one thing I will not do is tell an agent that any point! Writing becomes a business at some point and needs to be treated as such once you start contacting those in the industry. Like any other job, its all about professionalism and putting your best foot forward.

  5. When I was sending out queries, I had to wait for LETTERS, you know – snail mail! Now THAT was painful, especially when responses could take 6 months or longer. You know the song, ‘Mr. Postman’? Well, that became my theme song and I quickly learned what my mail carriers looked like because I would be at the door as soon as I heard the mailbox hinge squeak! I did that for 10 years until I found the right fit – publisher, that is, not agent. That is a process I never went through. It sounds agonizing. To need someone’s approval before you even contact a publisher seems like cruel and unusual punishment. I am happy to hear you have had another request! I wish you the best of luck! 🙂

    As for the interviews, I always enjoy reading how others have broken into the business. The variety of venues for writers, these days, boggles this old mind of mine. I am trying desperately to keep current, but it isn’t easy. Your interviews have helped me in that respect. Thanks! 🙂

  6. Patience, along with a thick skin, will serve any writer well. It’s never easy, but as with anything in life, practice makes the path easier to walk. I’ve been waiting to hear back from a publisher for about a year and a half. During much of that long stretch, it didn’t really affect me. Things move very slowly in the publishing industry at the best of times, and these are not the best of times for those who make a business from books.

    About a month ago, an editor who has been pushing for my manuscript told my agent he expected to have an answer within the week. Word still hasn’t come, and because it was fresh in my mind again, I had to learn patience all over again.

    To answer your question, Amy Marie, no, I don’t think agents or editors are as personally invested in the success of our manuscripts as we are. For them, it is always more about the money (this is their prime source of income, after all). Most of us writers can’t afford to write fiction full time, and so we work hard at a part-time job on faith. It’s our dreams that are on the line.

    Fortunately for me, I am good friends with my agent, so I know he truly wants what is best for me and my manuscript. But I’m not his only client, whereas we writers worry solely about ourselves. It’s an odd dynamic. Perhaps that’s inevitable in any arena where art and commerce coexist.

    And because these are, in fact, business transactions, I agree that both author and agent should behave in a professional manner…even though deep down, we’re dying to pester them for answers on a daily basis!

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