Monday, July 19, 2010

Additional submission information

Congratulations to Laurie S! She's the 500th person to submit a query to me since I reopened to queries in mid-May.

Well, technically, she's not the 500th person to submit. I have been trying to keep up with my backlog. At first, it was only a week's backlog and then a couple of weeks, and then the back log slipped to a month. So, in fact, Laurie S. is just the person who happened to submit when my counter first made it to 500. A milestone that doesn't make me very happy. It means that despite my best efforts, I can't keep up to the tune of 500 backlogged queries.

But I do promise and commit to continuing to use my best efforts to try to stay on top of them. (Flash: I'm having visions of sinking in the oil-soaked Gulf, at this particular moment. Wonder why?)

But as I was going through some queries the other night (yes, that's when I do most of them, at home with Harry at my feet), I realized that maybe if I provided a bit more information, it would make things easier for me as well as for those authors who are submitting queries. I'm seeing some common patterns of submissions for books that just don't appeal to me. So I thought I might as well come clean.

I don't like stories about Al Qaida or terrorists in general. I'm really not into war stories, either. And, despite the fact that I live in DC, political or CIA thrillers rarely excite me. (Perhaps I see too many of them in real life on a daily basis.) I'm just not that into action adventure (what I call "guy stories"). This doesn't mean I would never be interested in a story set during war time, but my focus really is on fiction that appeals to women. When I say I'm interested in thrillers, I'm much more fascinated by psychological thrillers where the focus is on the characters and who and why they're doing what they're doing, rather than on the plot-driven, action adventure thrillers that I seem to be seeing in great profusion.

I am also not likely to be interested in stories about pedophiles or defrocked priests. And stories with too many illnesses (cancer, etc.) just make me sad.

While I never say never because I am constantly amazed by the creativity and ingenuity of authors and their ability to create something wonderful from an otherwise unappealing plot idea, I do find that I have lots of queries for things that don't appeal to me.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with these kinds of projects. Best-selling authors, obviously, have made their careers on just these kinds of stories. But I do think agents gravitate towards things they like. I know it would be hard for me to effectively represent something that I didn't like or couldn't properly evaluate.

So, please, save us both some time and if you have one of the projects I've described above, you're probably better off going to another agent with it. In the meantime, I'll continue to hum only 500 queries to go, only 499 queries to go. . .


Bikerhen said...

Thank you! If only more agents were honest about what they wanted to see and what they didn't, a whole lot of everyone's time could be saved for the important tasks - writing, editing, submitting and reading. Thanks again for an informative post!

Margaret Duarte said...

Oh my, Elaine, and I thought us writers had it hard. Tonight, instead of feeling sorry for myself with my self-emposed work load, I'll send some positive thoughts your way.