I’ve been leaving out the names of agents and agencies for the most part as I track the query process largely because I wouldn’t want any particular agents to feel bad or attacked for saying no. I do include this blog in my query (that relentless ‘About Me’ paragraph) so I don’t want them to be over concerned about how their response might look.
Anyway, that being said, I think I got the saddest ‘no’ this past weekend.
I hadn’t even realized it existed, but Barbara Bova founded a literary agency that continues on after her passing in 2009. Her husband, Ben Bova, is the President. If you aren’t or weren’t a science fiction fan growing up, you might have missed the amazing talent of Ben Bova. His book MARS, published in 1992, was once of my first realistic science fiction loves. I had that book for as long as I’d had anything.
Sure, they still said no. In fact, they said:
“Unfortunately, your query does not meet our particular need at this time, but thank you for giving us the chance to review your work. Good luck in future.”
It doesn’t hurt my feelings or anything. In fact, I almost feel like I touched a little bit of awesome just having my MS pass through their hands.
It did get me thinking a bit about how personal to get in query letters. I didn’t include anything about how much I loved MARS and I didn’t mention that the book used to sit on my nightstand, anchoring a table lamp with a wobbly base and therefore being the last thing I saw at night for several years. I don’t really think any of that is appropriate in a query because it has nothing to do with the manuscript. That said, I sometimes feel like I could really hook an agent after I’ve read their profile on an agency website. You found THE SILMARILLION to be an enormous and purposefully convoluted time-sink? Omigosh, me too! We should have tea.
I don’t know. Maybe there’s a delicate balance. I haven’t been looking at queries as an opportunity to sell me. I’ve been trying to sell my manuscript. Perhaps it’s high time I gave both a shared space in my query letters. Until then, does anyone else remember having these around? Such a fine line between fantasy and awkward pre-teen spankbank material: