Friday, July 14, 2006
Q & A 71 Do I need an agent to get respect?
When publishers (who accept unagented submissions) receive queries from authors, do they automatically look down on said author with the attitude of “oh well they could not manage to score an agent so they are reduced to querying us directly.” And do they then pre-judge the work as likely inferior? I ask because it has been implied as such to me, and that scares me.
Evil Editor bought two one-pound bags of bing cherries at the grocery store today. Now, for those who don't eat cherries, let me explain that the ideal cherry is dark burgundy in color, and very crisp. The lighter colored ones haven't ripened enough, and taste sour. The soft ones have ripened too much, and lost their flavor. You're lucky if 5 percent are big, crisp, juicy and sweet, but it's worth it when you find the perfect one. What was the question again? Oh, right.
Let's say I eat all the cherries in bag number one. I eat a hundred cherries, to get five perfect ones. The perfect ones were delicious, but now I have a stomach ache. The next day I give the other bag of cherries to a friend, and say, "Sort these out and give me the perfect ones." My friend ends up handing me ten cherries. Five of them are perfect, and the other five are very good. (My friend is less discriminating than I am.)
The point is, five percent of my randomly chosen cherries were perfect, while fifty percent of my pre-inspected cherries were perfect. And my pre-inspected cherries didn't make me sick to my stomach.
But before you get discouraged, remember that if a cherry-eater has declared that he wants to find all of the perfect cherries, he's going to have to sample all of them. And if yours is crisp and sweet and juicy, you have nothing to worry about.