Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

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Regan Leigh
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Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Regan Leigh » October 1st, 2010, 7:00 pm

I'm interested in hearing the opinions related to an issue that was brought up on Twitter today. (Not the first time.)

Some agents and/or agent interns have been known to tweet out commentary as they read through the query pile.

(Totally made up example: YA book about vamps again. Great query makes me want to ask for partial, but opening pages are a mess. Pass.)

How do you feel about this and other things like the website SlushPile Hell? I'm curious...

My opinion? I like to read comments and feedbacks on queries from authors who have given their permission. I also don't mind the public feedback if the query/author is described vaguely enough to be unrecognizable.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 8:12 pm

I know some people get really offended by this, but I honestly find some of it very instructional. Again, I don't think any of it should be specific enough to out the sender, and it shouldn't be demeaning to the writer. There's a fine line between being a little sarcastic (especially when the query is kind of insulting) and being a jerk who's getting off on embarassing someone.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Holly » October 1st, 2010, 8:29 pm

It's unprofessional and demeaning.

Every job has some behind-the-scenes pain in the ass aspect. You just deal with it.

I wouldn't want to go to a doctor who tweeted about her patients, or a real estate agent who complained about his clients, and wouldn't want a literary agent who did that, either.

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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Erica75 » October 1st, 2010, 8:54 pm

I don't know that I mind it as an author whose query might be mentioned (I don't know if any of mine have, btw). However, I wouldn't like it if an agent who has time to tweet about every query they go through in a night then can't find the time to personalize their rejections (or send anything at all).
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by charlotte49ers » October 1st, 2010, 9:15 pm

I'm torn on this one.

On one hand, it is super informational and helpful. On the otherhand, people are putting themselves out there by querying in the first place and if the tweet or whatever is identfiable (even if only to the author), it could have serious consequences.

I also think it has to do with the delivery.

Acceptable:

Writing is fine, but the plot isn't original. Pass.

Unacceptable:

Who the heck is this ding-dong? Who starts a story like, "blah, blah, blah..."

I mean, there is a distinct difference between the two (and I've seen - and defollowed agents - because of things like the latter).

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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Holly » October 1st, 2010, 9:40 pm

If the author gives permission for a public critique -- fine.

If they didn't give permission, then it's not okay.

Most writers go through a nervous breakdown when they query. There's something mean and clubby about publishing professionals picking them apart in public, even if it's anonymous. It makes me think these people want to break the tedium of their jobs and be little reality stars. So somebody wrote a bad query letter or sent a messy package -- what else is new?

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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Margo » October 1st, 2010, 10:42 pm

Examples (made up but kinda based on messages I've seen)...

...that I think are okay:
"Inbox full of 800-year-old vampires in love with 16-year-old girls. Stop it already."
"Writer wants only an agent that will get him the best advance possible. Gee, why didn't I think of that?"
"Starts with yet another rhetorical question. Immediate no."
"Writer offering fiction novel. Nonfiction no."

...that I think cross the line:
"Writer says God told her to write this book. I told her that was the medication talking."
"Book is supposed to be a sumptuous feast. Can we say projectile regurgitation?"
"Writer's named his book XXXXXXX. Can he get any dumber?"
"Another bloated fantasy. I'd rather read the yellow pages."

The first set has agents venting frustration, but not in a way that involves humiliating the writer. Plus, they all involve valid query tips. Not so with the second set -- the reason for the fail is not obvious enough, some info is too identifiable, and the responses are mean-spirited.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Regan Leigh » October 2nd, 2010, 12:15 am

Margo wrote:I know some people get really offended by this, but I honestly find some of it very instructional. Again, I don't think any of it should be specific enough to out the sender, and it shouldn't be demeaning to the writer.
Agreed. I've seen agents and interns that have used this method in a professional and instructional way. I've also seen it blatantly misused. There is a big difference when it comes to the approach and intention.
Holly wrote:It's unprofessional and demeaning.

Every job has some behind-the-scenes pain in the ass aspect. You just deal with it.

I wouldn't want to go to a doctor who tweeted about her patients, or a real estate agent who complained about his clients, and wouldn't want a literary agent who did that, either.
I wasn't really referring to the tweets that complain or moan on about the hardships of the job. (Though I've seen those, too. ;)) I was speaking more about the tweets related to common issues coming up in recent queries or trends in the queries...that sort of thing.

Erica75 wrote:I don't know that I mind it as an author whose query might be mentioned (I don't know if any of mine have, btw). However, I wouldn't like it if an agent who has time to tweet about every query they go through in a night then can't find the time to personalize their rejections (or send anything at all).
A good point. If they have time to tweet, you start to feel taken advantage of if you don't at least get that same tweeted feedback in a rejection. I can see that for sure.
charlotte49ers wrote:I'm torn on this one.

On one hand, it is super informational and helpful. On the otherhand, people are putting themselves out there by querying in the first place and if the tweet or whatever is identfiable (even if only to the author), it could have serious consequences.

I also think it has to do with the delivery.

Acceptable:

Writing is fine, but the plot isn't original. Pass.

Unacceptable:

Who the heck is this ding-dong? Who starts a story like, "blah, blah, blah..."

I mean, there is a distinct difference between the two (and I've seen - and defollowed agents - because of things like the latter).
Yes, totally agree. Delivery and amount of information disclosed is the key. And intention. :) I've seen people make professional mistakes when tweeting and sometimes on esteemed advice, but it's usually clear when someone is making an effort to be hurtful. I agree with the acceptable vs unacceptable.

Holly wrote:If the author gives permission for a public critique -- fine.

If they didn't give permission, then it's not okay.

Most writers go through a nervous breakdown when they query. There's something mean and clubby about publishing professionals picking them apart in public, even if it's anonymous. It makes me think these people want to break the tedium of their jobs and be little reality stars. So somebody wrote a bad query letter or sent a messy package -- what else is new?
I have seen the mean and clubby part you're talking about and it is indeed a train wreck to watch. But I've also seen agents and interns trying to be helpful in a genuine way, only to be picked apart for what may or may not have been a bad decision. It's that scary land of online group think and mob mentality and I've watched it happen on both sides of the line. I can't stand that kind of thing.

I think in some cases it's fine to discuss queries in a public setting. Example: Certain professions, clinicians for instance, will do teaching workshops or conferences for education purposes. They may use case studies in their teaching, but never with any identifiable info and only in limited professional ways. I think it can be done well and it has been...but there are definitely exceptions. Big ones. :) While there are also very responsible and helpful people trying to help writers.
Margo wrote:Examples (made up but kinda based on messages I've seen)...

...that I think are okay:
"Inbox full of 800-year-old vampires in love with 16-year-old girls. Stop it already."
"Writer wants only an agent that will get him the best advance possible. Gee, why didn't I think of that?"
"Starts with yet another rhetorical question. Immediate no."
"Writer offering fiction novel. Nonfiction no."

...that I think cross the line:
"Writer says God told her to write this book. I told her that was the medication talking."
"Book is supposed to be a sumptuous feast. Can we say projectile regurgitation?"
"Writer's named his book XXXXXXX. Can he get any dumber?"
"Another bloated fantasy. I'd rather read the yellow pages."

The first set has agents venting frustration, but not in a way that involves humiliating the writer. Plus, they all involve valid query tips. Not so with the second set -- the reason for the fail is not obvious enough, some info is too identifiable, and the responses are mean-spirited.
I agree. :) I like those examples. I'd say they should never give any author info, no titles, and minimal if any premise. But the reminders of common mistakes people still make? A show of trends or word count issues? Things like that, IMO, are perfectly fine and helpful.



Thank you all for weighing in. I was really interested in hearing the view points on this discussion topic. Great comments.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by HillaryJ » October 2nd, 2010, 4:53 pm

I find it unprofessional, but exceedingly entertaining. If I were actively querying an agent who was "open" about queries on twitter, I think it would mess with my head. It is informative in that you can see things that an agent is distinctly not looking for, but tweets don't tell the whole story.

I don't have an opinion about whether an agent is taking too much time out of work if he or she is tweeting about queries. I do, however, think it would be easy for an aspiring writer to get caught up in following dozens of agents hoping to find a key to getting represented, when he or she should be writing.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by elfspirit » October 2nd, 2010, 8:23 pm

my opinion is it's unprofessional. Imagine doctors tweeting about their pain-in-the ass patients. I have a retail business, and there are times I'd like to publicly let off steam about difficult customers, but I don't. It's not a matter of outing someone's stupidity; it's a question of whether you respect the people who are looking to you to take their work seriously.

Turning a query letter into shark bait is only acceptable at QueryShark or other sites where you knowingly volunteer for the abuse.

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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Regan Leigh » October 2nd, 2010, 9:19 pm

So for those of you 100% against it, what do you think about the more appropriate examples given in this thread? I 100% agree that the venting and such comes off unprofessional. But if I'm following someone that uses those more appropriate examples (as mentioned above) I don't get offended by it.

I'm so curious because some people hate this no matter what and others seem to find it very helpful. I'm sort of on the fence.

And I do think some writers spend far too much time online and not enough writing. I can be one of them at times, but I was more so that way when first starting out. I realized how much information and great sites were out there and got a little lost in them for a couple of months. :D As far as following agents on Twitter, I enjoy it just because I get a good feel for whether or not I'm interested in them representing me. There are some I've totally ruled out based off of personality or professionalism. ;) For me, it's more about that and less about finding ways to get signed by them.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Mira » October 4th, 2010, 1:19 pm

With all due respect to those who aren't bothered by it/find it educational - this makes me so mad, I can barely post about it.

I hope we can all still be friends.

*BE AWARE - WHAT FOLLOWS IS A RANT*

I find it not only unprofessional, but shockingly inappropriate. I believe it's demeaning and degrading to writers. There are other professional and positive ways to educate someone on how to write a query letter. This borders on illegal and definitely crosses the line into unethical.

Sorry, but I obviously have extremely strong feelings about this. This is a big part of the reason I'm considering e-publishing. I can't stand how writers are treated in the industry. There's absolutely no excuse for mocking writers in public, especially given that without writers, the industry can't exist.

If anything really kills the print industry, this will be a big part of it.

What galls me is these people do it anonymously. They do it anonymously because they know it's wrong. If I ever get an actual name, I will complain to their boss, the better business bureau and the association of literary agents about them. I might even go to consumer watch groups, and their Senator.

I'm serious. Get me a name, please. I really, really, really want a name.

I don't know if you can tell, but this issue really bothers me.

Okay. END RANT.

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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Regan Leigh » October 4th, 2010, 1:34 pm

LOL Mira, I think we can still be friends. ;) Hope the rant helped. :D I love a good rant once in a while.

For the record, I completely understand. I also disagree completely with those that treat writers badly and unprofessionally. I think I've just seen less of that, but probably because as soon as I see a hint of it I immediately unfollow their blog or tweets. I've only kept a few people who have been known to do the query tweeting, but they never abused it and never gave out identifying info. It had seemed helpful to me because of that. (A couple of agents I won't name and a couple of interns with a boss that knows of it. They do use their name. I can see the issue with someone that's anon for sure.)

Again, I completely get both sides of the debate and in my head don't even consider the unprofessional ones as a part in the convo...cause well...they're just wrong. :D

I love forums and how we're able to discuss stuff like this instead of just writing at home and having no one close by to rant to cause they probably aren't writers and wouldn't get it. ;)

Mira wrote:With all due respect to those who aren't bothered by it/find it educational - this makes me so mad, I can barely post about it.

I hope we can all still be friends.

*BE AWARE - WHAT FOLLOWS IS A RANT*

I find it not only unprofessional, but shockingly inappropriate. I believe it's demeaning and degrading to writers. There are other professional and positive ways to educate someone on how to write a query letter. This borders on illegal and definitely crosses the line into unethical.

Sorry, but I obviously have extremely strong feelings about this. This is a big part of the reason I'm considering e-publishing. I can't stand how writers are treated in the industry. There's absolutely no excuse for mocking writers in public, especially given that without writers, the industry can't exist.

If anything really kills the print industry, this will be a big part of it.

What galls me is these people do it anonymously. They do it anonymously because they know it's wrong. If I ever get an actual name, I will complain to their boss, the better business bureau and the association of literary agents about them. I might even go to consumer watch groups, and their Senator.

I'm serious. Get me a name, please. I really, really, really want a name.

I don't know if you can tell, but this issue really bothers me.

Okay. END RANT.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Margo » October 4th, 2010, 2:41 pm

Mira wrote:What galls me is these people do it anonymously.
Some are not anonymous. In fact, some of the tamer ones I patterned my examples on were anonymous, while some of the meaner ones were not. I suspect you would not be the first to complain to their bosses, which isn't a bad idea if you want to put in the effort to try to stop it. Involving political figures...eh....as you said, unethical but not illegal.
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Re: Agents/Interns Tweeting Query Comments

Post by Mira » October 4th, 2010, 2:54 pm

Well, Regan and Margo - I'm glad we're all still friends, even if I do have steam coming out of my ears. :) I agree - Regan - I'm really glad we can discuss this together, even if we don't always agree. :)

I was going to beg for a name from either of you, but probably best if you don't give me one. I forgot that I told Nathan I'd hold off. He plans to go through channels and take this up with the Association of Agents to talk about agents and their public presence. So, I'll let it rest. Darn. I already had the letter to the U.N. pratically notarized.

Good talk though!

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