Querying, glorious querying. Many of you know about my infamous Book Number One. Rather than have you gather 'round the fire for a recap, just know that it was a typical first book, and I queried it with my whole heart. The rejections were painful and I couldn't help but take it all personal. Now I'm a lot better at seeing the writing-part as where my heart belongs, and the querying-part as nothing more than what it is: a business letter offering my services. Almost like a job application (yes, I know we would technically be "hiring" the agent, but stay with me), it is what we are offering in a prospective business partnership. No matter how bad I wanted to work at a particular company, I can't see myself trashing the interviewer all over forums if they didn't give me the job. (Even after a form rejection, Diana? Yes, even after a form. Agents have jobs to do, and replying to queries is only one tiny part of that huge job. Once you have an agent, you may not want him or her spending most of her time replying personally to every single query when the same general, kindly-worded R would give the right idea.).
But we are the writers! We are the ones with product for the machine, we have the ever-essential raw material and I get that. However. Agents spend their free time reading slush, if they read it at all. It's probably good to keep a level head and remember that agents who hit reply when they could hit delete do not have to. (But Diana, they need us and they act all high and mighty! My response: I don't know what high-and-mighty agents those are, because every agent I've met or read an interview about seems like a hard-working person trying to do a Herculean job. Agent Jennifer Jackson states she has read over 7,000 queries so far this year. 7,000! But if I did notice a high-and-mighty agent in my agent-research, that problem would be easily solved-- don't query those agents! A form R does not mean the agent is high-and-mighty in my book. It means, No, thank you. Which is fine.).
As an aside, I think if I were averaging a hundred and seventy five queries a week, maybe the people who checked my guidelines instead of following what they heard about what agents "really" want would be a welcome relief. In other words, if a particular agent wants X-Y-Z, why do some writers insist on sending them J-Q-Asterisk-P? Janet Reid has a rhetorical quiz on her blog about this.
How do you feel about the querying process? Am I way off base? Are agents who send form R's just the worst ever? Are queries oh-so-much-more than business letters? Whadya think?