Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Agent Answers: Dreaded Middle Pile

You have questions? Do you constantly miss #askagent sessions on Twitter? Is it impossible, despite a hundred Google searches, to find an answer to your question? Then you've come to the right place. Ask a question either on any "Agent Answers" post or on Twitter, and I'll answer as many as I can. My answers will be subjective and should not be considered applicable to every agent (though I do like to assume my opinions are the majority). 

Question: Do you and/or most agents have a 'maybe' file that you sort queries into? For the manuscripts that you don't immediately want to request or reject?

Answer: Who remembers my post about the middle pile? You've got the great stuff, that goes in a teeny weenie pile that agents fight over with giant rubber pencils. And you've got the horrible stuff, that goes in a sizable that shouldn't see the light of day.

Then you have the stuff that is well written, okay concept, characters that are fleshed out, and above all, readable. What do we do with this stuff?

When talking about queries, I do this a lot. I think, "Self, this has some merit. But..." That's why a lot of agents ask that you include the first five or ten pages with your query. And if those still make us go, "Self, this has some merit. But..." We'll probably ask for some more. If we're busy or jaded, it's a no.

Do I have a file that these go into? Not really. Sometimes if I read part, most, or all of an ms and I'm not sure if I love or even like it, I set it aside. I'll go back to this folder where requested mss go, and I'll see it and think, "Self, what is this?" If I can't immediately remember, that's a bad sign. And a rejection. If think, "Self, why did you stop reading this, I remember this concept!" then there is something there, maybe the writing was holding me back. That most likely will get it a second look and possibly a Revision Request.

Happy writing!


Charlie N. Holmberg said...

I remember Lou Anders of Pyr Publishing saying that his wife could always tell what books he should buy by his reaction. There were books he really liked, and then the books he was ecstatic about. Obviously, ecstatic always won.

At least we can hope that the "just likable" books might hit the right buttons for someone else. :)

Unknown said...

Good to know. Follow up question for self: How long does it stay in the middle pile?