So now that I'm cyberstalking agents trying to figure out whom to query and how to tailor their letters I frequently stumble across frightening, distressing blogs and stories on the internet. A couple of my pie in the sky choices have agented some high profile authors and books (hey, shoot for the moon, right?) and are obviously being stalked by lots of other wannabes.
Like me, many of them blog.
I have an unofficial personal blog policy of not naming names. It could be distressing if the named ever read it and besides, once it's out there I can't take it back. So without naming names I feel free to say that there is some really bad stuff out there. And it's getting sent to agents I want to query. I know, objectively, (people who know me will tell you I'm pretty good at being objective, even if it means taking criticism) that what I write is better than much of what I'm reading. Not just grammatically. I found one today that actually posted fan fiction on characters I'd read. It was painful. Trite, cliched, and clearly intended to mimic the voice of the author but without success. I cringed, literally cringed, while reading it. The poster was obviously proud of the effort and has written a book they want to submit to my dream agent. Said dream agent must get a ton of really bad submissions.
This should be a comfort. But it is not. I'm doing the same thing a gazillion other wannabes are doing and we're flooding the market. If I were an agent trying to slog through fifty queries in between doing work for actual clients my eyes would bleed. How does it not all run together? What on earth could I put in my query letter to let them know that I am not one of those people? The answer: absolutely nothing. All I can do is make it clean, to the point, and not gushy. And hope something about my query attracts the reader's attention enough to prompt further investigation.
There is some really good stuff out there, too, don't get me wrong. It's just demoralizing to share ambition with people who obviously think their work is just as good as anybody's when it definitely isn't. The implication is obvious. What if, in truth, I AM one of those people? And if I'm not how will an agent ever know?
Too bad they don't grade on a curve.