Friday, September 25, 2009

Why can't writers follow the rules?

So I'm finishing edits on my first full manuscript (eek!) and therefore working on my query letter and synopsis. Accordingly, I am soaking up the information on agent blogs like a sponge. There's some darn good information on agent blogs, including some truly important items... rules for submission. However it appears that many writers have some kind of visual blockage that doesn't allow them to see those rules. Hmmm- writers can read just fine until it comes to following rules for sending in their writing. Maybe the AMA needs to coin a new disease name for it: "Writer-itis"

I see so many blogs by agents reminding everyone what NOT to send. On every one of these blogs, I've looked at the rules for submission/submission guidelines. The rules always include the EXACT items they want submitted and the EXACT way they want them submitted. One wants just a query letter, another wants the query plus the first 10 pages. One doesn't accept fantasy, another doesn't accept picture books. Everything is clearly spelled out on the submissions page.

So why do the agents have to keep reminding us what NOT to do?! Why can't writers follow the rules? Every time someone sends in things outside the guidelines, it makes things harder for the rest of us. I for one don't want my submission to be read the same day that an agent has to wade through 50 submissions for adult fantasty when he/she only represents YA and 45 queries with no sample pages. That would be enough to put me in a foul mood, and I'm not an agent. I personally want my agent to read lots of wonderfully compliant submissions, grab a bottle of Chianti and some good chocolate, and then sit down to read my submission in front of a nice fire.

Why would a writer want to do that anyway? Why would you spend all those hours of perfecting and polishing your "baby" and then send it out to someone who isn't going to look at it? And why would you submit something they specifically said not to send and risk them rejecting you on that alone?

Do yourself and the rest of us writers a favor- learn to read the guidelines and follow them. Oh, and one more thing- don't rely on old copies of Writer's Digest from the library. Look up the agent's website and see what they currently are looking for, how they want submissions, and for goodness sakes make sure their bio doesn't say they're closed for submissions!

This has been a public service announcement on behalf of unagented writers everywhere. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Thank you for your attention!

Oh, and agents... I've got a nice submission for you with only things you want in it that I'll be happy to send along when you're sitting in front of that fire.


  1. I agree: All submissions should be read before a fire with a nice Chianti and some chocolate. ;)

    Just wanted to pop in and say good luck with the submissions when the time comes. Such an exciting moment!

  2. thank you :-) Somehow I missed your comment- thought it was supposed to let me know when I get comments! Hrumph! I'm getting close to submitting- just a couple more weeks...

  3. I think its difficult to sift through agent information and to find the ideal agent listing for you. Also books that offer the most help are very expensive. But nevertheless, following instructions are the key, also focusing on agents who specialize in representing your genre. Some may take a chance if your manuscript is exceptional but not everyday that happens...take it from me. Love the posts!

  4. yeah, it's definitely difficult to find the right one. But as I'm going through trying to find "mine", I'm just blown away by how many people think the rules don't apply to them when the rules are clearly posted!! lol Glad to have you stop by :-)