Agency Lessons: Rule following isn't just for queries

Agency Lessons is a weekly post that gives authors and readers an inside look into the mind of a literary agent and a peek behind the curtain of how books are made.

So, now that I've got an official release date for Rite of Redemption, I've fired up the old marketing machine again. For me, this means I've spent a lot of time this weekend staring at submission guidelines for bloggers.

I couldn't help but notice that on so many of these blogs, the lovely blogger will list very specific information they need along with very clear directions with how to contact them. It couldn't be more obvious what they are looking for. And yet, a scroll down the page to the comments section reveals multiple authors all trying to pitch their newest book for review. Right there. Where they were told not to do that.

Which got me thinking about the submission process for querying authors. Honestly, the two processes are very similar.

Just like each blogger wants most of the same information, most agents are looking for the same thing (Query, synopsis, pages). Some bloggers will want more information (preferred reviewer or contest preferences) or less (just put the synopsis in the contact form). Just like some agents want more information (your platform info or marketing plan) and some want less (just a query, thanks).

And the similarities don't end at the query stage. Agents have to follow the guidelines when we pitch to editors (Yes, there are rules). And when you go to market your work, you'll have to follow the rules for bloggers, professional reviewers, library submissions, conferences, book store signings, etc.

The list of places with rules is endless. And each place has a different set of rules. Honestly, it can be daunting. It would be lovely if I could have one review request email and send it to everyone. But I can't. Some bloggers have never heard of me, so they need an introduction. Other bloggers have become friends and a formal letter would be weird. Some blogs operate differently than most, so they just need different information.

I could send a form email. I won't get many responses that way. Just like you could send the exact same query to every agent. Chances are, you won't get many responses either.

So, all of this to say, I get it. Doing all that research and sending individual queries out to each agent with each one being just slightly different from the one before it can be maddening.  Do it anyway, and do it knowing that you've only just begun your rule following adventure. But maybe go ahead and slide in a smile face, you rebel, you.