Thursday, April 29, 2010

Querying Blunders: How Not to Query with Agent Holly Root

Yep, it’s that time again. This latest installment of Querying Blunders (aka: How Not to Query) comes to you from SuperAgent Holly Root of Waxman Literary Agency. For those of you who don’t know, Holly reps AW writer Jill Myles, author of the amazing UF Succubus Diaries series. (and while it’s, er, not exactly YA—*fans self*—Jill has a YA on sub right now which we know will totally rock!)

Also, check out client Serena Robar's Giving up the V and the Half-Blood Vampire series, due to be re-released this June!

Now, on to Holly's thoughts on querying no-no's:

"The hardest ones for sure are the drop-by queries. It happens more in the summer and more on Fridays; the door to the agency opens and in walks a wayward soul. "I flew all the way here from [wherever] just to bring this to you," they say, or "I was in town already and just thought I'd try," or "I'm on a layover from Taiwan." Either way, these folks show up, manuscript in hand, and are shocked when our extremely polite assistant does not immediately hand out a contract and set them up with a bag of money from Random House (often, they don't even know who we are or what exactly we do). Save your time, your money, and the cab fare in from JFK--drop-bys get you noticed but not in the good way."

(GotYA note: Wait—you mean, agents don’t have bags of money just sitting around their offices? Curses, our dreams are shattered!)

"I'd say a couple times a year someone tries the bribery road, by offering up the use of their vacation home/timeshare/frequent flyer miles or what have you, or (more frequently) offering the whole advance as commission. Boundaries, they are your friends."

(GotYA note: Although, we bet the vacation home on an island is tempting sometimes. Especially if it comes with free strawberry margaritas.)

"I also see a lot of the classic information that does not help your cause--"my daughter is a very picky reader and she thinks it's amazing;" "everyone always told me I should be a writer;" "I won the third-grade writing award;" "I think it would make a great movie." And a lot of "this book is the new Twilight/Harry Potter/etc." But honestly, I know how hard the whole query process is so while I might pass on a blunderiffic query now, there's absolutely no way I would remember that person negatively if they showed back up in my inbox, having learned a lot about querying and polished all hints of the kooky out of the letter. Every query is a new chance to do it right!"

(GotYA: We love Holly’s upbeat, positive attitude, and ditto this thought. Everyone makes mistakes when they’re first starting out! Just keep learning and plugging away, and you’ll eventually get there. We have faith in you! Also: blunderiffic might be our new favorite word.)

Thanks so much to Holly for participating, and to Jill for setting this up for us! You ladies are amazing!


Tahereh said...


holly is doll.


Pam Harris said...

Thanks for the info! :O I still can't believe that people actually show up to query. Where was that person's friends and family? It reminds me of those awful auditions at the beginning of "American Idol." Sometimes you need a good friend to slap some sense into you.

Krista Ashe said...

Thank you Holly for taking the time to give us some of your query blunders! Thanks to Deb/Hound for collecting these!

And srsly, it amazes me that people do drive by queries. It's just unfathomable to me, lol. yeah, I live far, far away from NY, but I just can't ever imagine doing that.

Kaitlin said...

Great post! Really interesting to hear about the strange things that happen with querying.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I'm really not surprised that people try the "walk-in" approach now & again. They read and hear stories of how many faceless e-mails an agent gets every week, and in a moment of desperate brilliance, their mind spits out "let them see you in person!" as a way to stand out from the pack.

(These are probably the same people who would corner an agent in the bathroom or elevator at a conference and speed talk through a pitch while the agent pounds away at the button hoping it will make the elevator go faster.)

Thanks for the insight!

Lisa Green said...

That's actually the first time I've heard of the walk in or the bribery route. Wow! Of course those reading this blog, probably know better anyway. Put away the keys to the Porshe! Very nice interview - thanks!

Lydia Kang said...

I still can't believe some people do these things. Maybe they don't have access to the internet to find out these are all SO wrong?

Amanda J. said...

Oh, great post. And thanks for stopping by, Holly! :)

I know some fellow writers here at my school who know absolutely nothing about publishing, and really bothers me. They think they know a lot but when I talk to them and they tell me things I really want to ask then why they aren't doing their research. :/ It's not like it's hard to find any of this information when you've got agents like Holly and Nathan Bransford and a tone of others just giving it away. *sigh*

But not everyone has the dedication and determination to do things right, I guess.

JEM said...

That's so ridiculous to me that someone would offer a timeshare (what did you say their name was again?)

Annie McElfresh said...

Well dang, there goes all my brilliant snag an agent plans! LMAO J/K of course!!!

Rawkin' post Holly and Deb!! :D

Holen said...

Great post!

If I were an agent, I'd hold out for season tickets for basketball. Unless I lived in New York. Then I'd hold out for only the games when the Suns are in town.

Courtney said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing what irks you, Holly. Um...does anyone know if airlines give refunds on tickets????

Talli Roland said...

Great post - thanks so much for sharing!