Pub Rants

No Agent Answers Hotline

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STATUS: Everything is in chaos because my agency is moving to larger office space starting this weekend. I’m carefully marking boxes that have the “must open immediately” important stuff like my contracts that are currently in process. Now half the boxes have the urgent pink label on it. Hum…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHITE FLAG by Dido

Just recently I’ve been receiving a rash of phone calls from writers who are calling because they want free advice about their publishing career. I don’t know why but this always surprises me. Do they think I’m going to actually return these calls? I’m nice but…

Now I realize that by writing my blog, I’m putting myself out there and that writers will often feel like they “know” me but I want to gently remind all readers that I’m not a personal consultant that a writer can just ring up and get a question answered. This isn’t the agent answers hotline (but heck, that’s a brilliant concept for an enterprising individual!).

I’m certainly committed to helping writers. Just know that the extent of my free advice is what I give via my blog and my eNewsletter.

21 Responses

  1. Anonymous said:

    But what about fashion? Is it okay if I call you up to ask about that?

    OK, mostly I was just posting to let you know the newsletter was great.

  2. Anonymous said:

    When first starting out, it’s rather exhasperating for writers trying to navigate this business. It’s no wonder to me that they call. They don’t know where else to turn for the answers many of us take for granted. Here’s the best advice I can give: Click on the links to other Agents’ Blogs on the right hand side of Pub Rants. Read all the archives of all these blogs and this one two. Nine times out of ten, you will find all the answers you need. If not, you’ll get a better feel for which agents have more time to answer questions. These agents have an email link in their personal profiles on their blogs. Click on that and ask away, but be forewarned that the agent may answer your question on her blog. So, play nice. 😉

    Kimber An

  3. Anonymous said:

    I remember once, when I was still grappling with the decision to move towards a writing career or not, I took the time to write a polite, professional email to an agent. At the time, I didn’t quite know what a literary agent was and I was thoroughly intimidated by the process (actually, I still am intimidated). I shot that email off, and, much to my surprise, that agent wrote a reply. Said it usually wasn’t the way to go about learning, but since I had been so polite in my email, it would be all right if I called the agent at a certain time that week.
    One of the nicest things I had ever experienced. I did call that agent; however, it was after that agent extended the offer to call. Cold-calling is definitely not the way to go.

  4. Anonymous said:

    I think you hit on the answer. This whole blog thingy makes people feel as if they actually know you. I know I feel comfortable enough to post comments as if we were acquaintances. Still, I’m sane enough not to believe this blog somehow makes the feeling mutual, and I would never presume otherwise.

    (Oh, BTW, if I’m ever in Denver, can I crash at your place?) ;o)

  5. Anonymous said:

    Hmm, yeah, premium rate phone line in one hand and Agent Query in the other…a whole new scam is born!

  6. Anonymous said:

    When I was thick in the how-to of novel writing and publishing, I read this blog regularly, and it helped so much. (But I never thought I could just call for advice!)

    Now that I’m through the gate, so to speak, I’m trying to help other writers on their way.

    I blog a lot about how-to, and there are many, many other informative blogs by other writers who are published or about-to-be published.

    I like to think a rising tide can lift ALL boats, but maybe that’s too optimistic. A lot of boats, though–that would be great.

  7. Anonymous said:

    With all the information out there–PM, AgentQuery, P&E, agent blogs, author blogs, books, magazines, conferences–I don’t get why anyone would call an agent and ask for advice. (Aside from the fact that it’s inappropriate.)

  8. bebe said:

    I bet Miss Snark DOES get a lot of these calls. I think everyone in publishing does. I do, and I don’t have a blog. No one knows who I am. I’m nobody. But I still get calls in search of a one-on-one phone tutorial on the publishing business.

    It does make sense, in a very pre-internet kind of way. Want to know about wildlife? Call the Audubon society. Want to know about stocking grocery shelves? Call up the nearest supermarket. Want to know about book publishing? Cold call the first publisher or agency you think of and ask the switchboard operator to connect you to someone who can explain.

    It’s not that publishing people don’t like talking about publishing. They do. Kristin wouldn’t have a blog if that weren’t the case. It’s just that they have to spend most of the time doing their actual jobs so that they can keep them. So one-on-one just isn’t efficient enough. Also, you can check the internet, library, and/or writer conferences (where agents and other publishing professionals, much more qualified than me, by the by, get paid to explain the same things to many people at once).

  9. Anonymous said:

    Therese – same here. I’m willing to share everything I’ve picked up along the way in the hope that someone, somewhere, will benefit.

    I post articles to my website and regularly get emails thanking me for the info.

  10. Marley Gibson said:

    I remember at the Reno RWA conference, I was in my agent’s hotel room with some other clients and the phone rang…it was someone who had read about her appearance at the conference and was in the lobby. He wanted to pitch his book over the phone and maybe meet. I was shocked at the ballsy-ness! Needless to say, he was directed to the website submission guidelines. = )

  11. Ryan Field said:

    Kristin, I admire and respect you probably more than any other young agent in this country (and she can’t do anything for me, folks, so this is not ass-kissing). But these people don’t understand nice, polite warnings. You’ve got to club the idiots over the head and then yank them away with a meat hooks.

  12. Anonymous said:

    You’re just too darn nice!!
    It’s when you get too nice that people feel the fuzzy part. I get that.. you obviously get that.. so what to do.. what to do? Oh, just be the professional you are and the responsible ones get the message, the rest, well, they eventually get the message, just a little longer work for those people. Keep up the good work and great blog, you rock! [Did I actually use that word? All I know about rocks is what you find on the ground.]

    Keep it up and great newsletter… hope to see what the next one is like that the one after that…

  13. Anonymous said:

    You’re paying an assistant to screen and protect you from these things. You shouldn’t even be made aware of stupid calls. She/he should be dealing with this.

  14. Anonymous said:

    I’m surprised people would do that. Oh well, there are some GUTSY nuts out there!

    Blogs are very personal, no matter how “unpersonal” you want them to be. People are going to feel like they “know” you, no matter what. You’re right–it IS a risk of “putting yourself out there.” But there are a lot of people who are glad you have!

  15. Anonymous said:

    This raises an interesting question. I’m a published author – I belong to an online group of published authors. For those looking for an agent – some of the authors on the loop indicated that they would “cold” call an agency first. Let the agent know about their publishing background, goals etc, prior to submitting.

    The thought being that as already established author, he/she should get prefential treatment in having their proposals/submissions read.

    Kristin – I don’t know if you answer questions from the posts – but I would love to get your feedback.

    Would a call from an established author make a difference? Would you forgo the query and skip to the 30 pages? Would you still require a full manuscript?

    Or would this call not be answered?

  16. Anonymous said:

    Anon @ 12:05

    This might be a case where reality might come into play. And, of course, this isn’t Kristin’s answer and she might handle it differently.

    These published authors…are they with a legitimate publisher with real sales? I doubt online publishing or any other really counts.

    Of course there are certain instances where unagented writers have sold to good publishers, but I still think a query letter would be apporpriate in the beginning. Unless of course you’re Nora Roberts.

  17. Dragonet2 said:

    I’m soo grateful my office moved ‘just’ on the preparation for our fall crunch last year. I work for a trade show publisher and if we’d moved in October I’d just as soon cut my throat…. it would have totally disrupted us.

    We moved over the Labor Day weekend last year (2005) and it was just the right weekend. Plus now were in a pretty, interesting building, before we were in a cement/brick/glass box.

    Found you via Ms. Snark.