Saturday, August 26, 2006

Agents and Blogging

I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Agent Kristin Nelson posted an entry this past Friday on her popular blog, PUB RANTS, about recent query letters that her assistant Sara had received.

Sara talked about the reasons she passed on several recent queries: Overused plots, personal turn-offs, genres they didn't represent, etc. She spoke in generalizations.

Then Sara talked about three queries that she'd received that warranted an enthuastic "I want to see this!". She spoke in specifics when describing the plots. Unfortunately, these weren't projects being repped by their agency. It was just three queries that had crossed her desk and piqued her interest.

The feedback on the Comments section was immediate...and quite interesting.

Some people thought it was a great idea. Others thought it was unethical.

Now, agents who critique query letters on their blogs is nothing new. Miss Snark has done it. Rachel Vater, too. But the difference is that the author knows in advance that will happen when they submit their query to those bloggers. The authors who submitted queries to Kristin Nelson didn't, and therein lies the difference.

My question today is for the writers out there, unpublished or published. How do you feel about agents who blog? Was Kristin Nelson well within her rights to post synopses of the works pitched to her in a query letter?

What do you think?


Gina Black said...

Not to be persnickety, but it's Sara (not Amy) and Vater, not Vader. (That might have her related to Darth.)

And for the record, I think queries are confidential. Has nothing to do with stealing or anything else. They just aren't public information without the author's consent. If I sent you a letter I wouldn't want to see it appear in this blog unless you asked me first.

Cheryl Bolen said...

Well, Faye, your topic has raised a double-edged sword. While I'd love to see what agents consider dynamite queries -- as well as dogs -- I have to agree with Gina. No agent (or anyone else, for that matter) should use your letters without your permission.

Anonymous said...


Oops. Now we know why writers need good copy editors. LOL.


Sandra K. Moore said...

I agree that the author's permission should definitely be asked before her query letter is mentioned with that degree of specificity.

This somewhat cavalier treatment of query letters adds to the general impression that writers must grovel for an agent's attention, and that they're somehow doing us a favor when they agree to represent us. That's not the agent's intent, but it's the implied message.

Now, that said, it's entirely possible that Kristin and Sara did ask the authors' permission -- but if they did, they should make that plain in their post.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of you. Query letters should be treated as confidential and not dissed online without permission. I think it actually reflects poorly on the agent. It feels unprofessional, to say the least. And it's unkind to treat writers that way. There are better ways to instruct writers and to give feedback. Especially since it's one person's opinion - and not written in stone.