"Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told." Henry David Thoreau

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You Don't Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression

This blog first appeared on the Blue Sage Writers of Idaho blogspot, October 3, 2011.

Most agents and writers have come to prefer email submissions to snail mail. It is decidedly easier for all parties and saves the writer a lot of money in postage. As a matter of fact, the loss of all those query letters, partials, and bulky manuscripts, along with return postage, could very well be what is causing the U. S. Postal Service’s financial demise.

Agents really like email queries because they can easily hit the “delete” button if they aren’t interested. And, you, the writer can easily choose 100 agents and send your query out to all of them simultaneously. Right?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.

It’s acceptable to send out multiple query letters. After all, if you sent out one at time, you might not live long enough to get through your list unless you’re twenty when you start querying. Granted, email does make it so you only have to wait weeks, rather than months, for a response, but it’s still not a good idea to get overzealous. I personally prefer to choose around five agents at a time and wait to see what sort of response I get. If it’s positive and they want to see more, I can assume my query letter piqued their interest. If I don’t get a response, or get all negative responses, then I realize I might need to rework the query letter. The same philosophy goes for a partial, and so on to the request of a full manuscript.

The bottom line is you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so don’t exhaust all the agents on your list in one fell swoop. You want to leave your options open to rework your query, your partial, or your manuscript if each phase of submission isn’t garnering the interest to take it to the next level.


Eunice Boeve said...

E-mail is certainly a time saver and a money saver. To me it only makes sense. (Sorry Postal Department.) Periodically over time I'd sent out querys to agents, sometimes making a concentrated effort, sometimes just tossing out a line. I've not hooked one yet. Actually, I'm not so interested in agents anymore, so may never ever try to snag one again.

Linda Sandifer said...

You're right, Eunie. The industry is undergoing so many changes that a lot of things that were standard could very well become obsolete.

Mumbai said...

Important points that you have made.

Would like to add that presentation has become very important in ensuring that first impressions are good.

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B.J. Anderson said...

Excellent advice. And some that I try to follow on a regular basis.