Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I have hesitated to bring up this topic before but it is something I've been wondering about off and on over the years since I started writing.   Literary agents.  I've never had one representing me.   There was a short period of time before I turned to indie publishing when I thought that it was the way to go and I can still see how an agent could have useful skills and information for a writer.

My understanding of the compensation of agents is that he or she receives 15% of what the author is entitled to receive, right off the top.   This is beneficial in that when the writer succeeds, the agent succeeds.   Most credible agents will confirm on their websites that writers never need to pay anything upfront for services rendered including writing and editing advice as well as information and the benefit of the agent's connections.


So far, so good.   The part that I have difficulty comprehending is the waiting period considered acceptable for an agent to return your call, so to speak; to respond to a writer's carefully crafted query letter and sample chapters.  Most agents have very specific requirements as to what they wish to receive and how they wish to receive it.   I must confess to a stunned pause when I read that authors should not expect a response in less than six to twelve weeks.

I do an increasing amount of my personal business on line.   I shop on-line, make travel arrangements on-line, I pay my bills on-line.  In my experience it almost always works out.   I check reviews and feedback with purchases and I judge the potential of the business to make me happy in part by how quickly they return my e-mails.  I  often make one or two queries before any purchases to 'check them out.'   Anything more than 48 hours delay and I probably won't proceed.  I want the businesses I deal with, including home-based small businesses, to be accessible and professional.    I want to know that someone is 'minding the store'.    I think that if a business took six to twelve weeks to get back to me I would fall over laughing before hitting the delete button.

I understand that literary agents receive unsolicited manuscripts.   It takes a certain amount of time to review them although I suspect that with practice, ten minutes will tell you all you need to know, in terms of yay or nay.   It's not like spelling or grammar is being corrected along the way. I've heard that some agents only respond if they are interested.   In other words if you don't hear from them, it's a 'no'.

It seems to me that some system needs to be developed so that timely responses can be given.   It's just more businesslike, more courteous, more expeditious.   

Are my expectations unrealistic?

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