June 9, 2010

Is this what being an agent feels like?

About a year ago, I started perusing a site called Authonomy, which is run by HarperCollins UK. Basically, this website offers a place where writers can post their work for critique—and it also offers a chance for the most popular books to get reviewed by one of the HC editors.

It's a nifty idea, but I never posted my work due to a variety of reasons (feel free to shoot me an email for details). Yet, I do check out Authonomy from time to time for kicks and giggles. And to procastinate...

Anyway, I checked my Authonomy account today and I noticed a few people had left messages in my inbox, asking me to review their book. One message in particular caught my eye. It went something like this:

Hello Caroline,

I noticed you were online earlier and I thought I'd give this a shot. Would you be willing to read my novel? Below, you will find a couple blurbs that my readers have said about the work:

"Blurby blurb! Blurb blurb FANTASTIC BOOK. Blurby mcblurby LOVED THIS!"

[Insert brief summary of the story]

I hope you will take the time to read my first chapter. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!


I.M.A. Stranger

When I finished this message, I sort of had a minor epiphany: Is this what agents feel like when they read queries? Because this is kind of how I felt—like this guy had sent me a pseudo query.

And then, something weird happened... I started to dissect this dude's pseudo query! I know, I know. It isn't a real query—far from it really—but I couldn't stop my brain from doing it. I blame this on the fact that I've spent the past two years jamming my mind with query do's and don'ts that it's kind of become second nature to me.

My critique as follows:

1.) The dude scores a couple points for trying to personalize the query. Yeah, he only said that he saw me online, but at least he tried!

2.) In a real query, the dude shouldn't include blurbs unless they're from a notable author. Sorry to say it, but blurbs from Aunt Jo and Cousin Billy don't mean anything to an agent.

3.) The dude gave a nice summary of his book. Short and succinct. Agents don't want you droning on and on about your epic dolphin fantasy with hairy trolls, smelly prostitutes, and Bill Cosby. Just a short snippet (200 to 250 words) will do just fine.

ARGH. Bad Caroline!

I really need to take a break from writing and agenting blogs... Look at what I have become—a query monster!

I imagine the query monster might look something like this: green, tentacled, and sparkly.


  1. The query monster looks extremely happy ... to eat me!

    I have never checked out authonomy, mostly because I knew I'd wind up wasting too much time there. Same reason I avoid getting into video/computer games!

  2. Love your query monster! That pic made my day.

    Stranger Dude sounds... interesting. I guess his intentions are noble, but he came off a bit weird. Rock on with your bad self getting asked for help, though. :D

  3. Haha! Query Monster. Let's just say, what you got is minor compared to agents. I would imagine that after you've seen at least 200 of those in one week, that monster would be frowing.

  4. Lynn, watch out for that query monster! Haha. But yeah, I probably shouldn't peruse Authonomy anymore because it can be a total time sink. Why do I love procrastinating so much?!

    Amparo, haha thanks! I'm glad you liked my query creature. He is pretty cute, if I say so myself. :o)

    LM, very good point! Whereas my query monster is cute and cuddly, I'm sure an agent's query monster would have fangs and boggly eyes and a really big frown! (And poisonous farts, too. Because, you know, query monsters are mean.)

  5. You know when I read that I thought something completely different. He put preconceived notions into your head about the book. Like, see how all these other people loved my book? Now it's your turn to tell me. It's kind of weird. If he thinks his book is so good, why's he still passing it around? Fishing for more compliments?

  6. That's an interesting point, Julie! Thanks for bringing it up.

    Admittedly, this is one of the reasons why I never posted on Authonomy. I've had friends who've used the site and they've gotten some helpful critiques, but most people give EXTREMELY positive comments in hopes you will do the same for their book. It doesn't matter if your book is poorly written--a lot of Authonomy users will write glowing things about it in exchange for a backing of their own book.

  7. Judging writing contests also gives one a new sympathy for agents!