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  Talking about spam? 


  No, literary agents! 


     Over-the-top literary agents who see themselves as the darlings of cyberspace. 

     As many of us are aware by now, the publishing world moves about as fast as window putty in Northern Maine in the middle of the winter. 

     So, the newbee young upstart literary agents who’ve been raised on instant gratification, joysticks, You Tube, and Google ask, “What’s the solution?” 

     And then, of course, they answer themselves:  

     Why, I do believe we can speed up the industry by throwing off all those dusty layers of traditional snail mail manuscript and query submissions by urging all those poor slobs who’ve been writing their butts off for years (and who are finally now readying themselves to submit their little teaser sales pitches to get an agent to sell their work to a publisher) to . . . wait’ll you hear how great this idea is . . . to . . . to USE EMAIL!” 

     “Wow!  Howcum no one ever thought of that before?  What a beautiful thing.  We can even justify it as a commitment to going green with all the paper we’ll save (not to mention all the postage!)  Other yuppies will love us.  All we have to do is get people to send us their teaser/query letters, and synopses, and chapter outlines, and manuscripts by email.  Of course we can’t accept attachments; somebody might put w h i t e   p o w d e r [shudder!] in one.  Well, getting these dumb writers to buy into that should be a piece of cake!”

     “Yeah, a really heart-stopping idea you’ve got there.  And y’know what else?  When somebody sends us something now, we can just eat it or delete it!” 

     “Yo!  Writer!  You send me a query letter that you’ve probably only spent a couple of hours composing and getting it into acceptable email format (add another half-hour if you’re over 50), and I –the great and all-powerful OZ– can zip you back an instantaneous rejection.  I can even arrange for an automated rejection response for when I’m busy.  Whew!  I’m so relieved; no more piles of paper on my desk; I just have to whisk through my emails and delete them, or zap off my automated:

Thank you for your recent letter of eleven seconds ago.  I regret to say that I don’t feel that I’m the most appropriate agent for your work.  However, opinions vary considerably in this business, and I wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.  Best wishes, Agent Smagent”

     You think I’m kidding?  I recently got back two automated rejection emails (responding to query letters I labored over for a good part of the day) in less than one minute from having sent my proposals . . . not even enough time to read what I had written, never mind consider it!  Oh, and did I mention my originals went out after midnight on a Sunday? 

     Well those two exchanges had to be oddities, you say.  I wish.  Late last night, Labor Day weekend mind you, I had the same experience again with an agent I tracked and respected and got a rejection reply within eight minutes.  Given that it took longer than a full minute, he, at least, might actually have read some of my message.  (His terse comments did make note of the eleventh word in my first line, so who knows?)  

     It’s not being turned down; writers are thick-skinned.  The point is that today’s speedly little email literary agents need to know how utterly disheartening it is to have instant rejection to a well thought-out, personalized, neatly presented, courteous proposal that has taken an hour or more–probably more– to write, and which of course represents untold hours of struggle and sacrifice (in my case, seven years!) writing the work that’s being represented. 

     I’m going back to sending snail mail submissions to agents who at least APPEAR to be willing to read more than half of my first sentence.         halalpiar        

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