As some of you who follow my Twitter feed know, I host a very impromptu, sort-of-monthly, sort-of-regular and always-unscheduled Twitter chat called #Askagent.
What is #Askagent? #Askagent is agent/editor/writer free-for-all, where a group of agents, editors and other book industry pros open themselves up to questions from writers for a couple of hours or until they drop from sheer exhaustion. It's a lot of fun, and always draws hundreds - sometimes thousands - of participants. And we can have as many as twenty agents and editors answering questions all at one time. Some of the regulars who join me in co-hosting #Askagent are agents Jennifer Laughran from the Andrea Brown Agency, Elana Roth from the Caren Johnson Agency, Jason Ashlock from Moveable Type and former Bantam editor Juliet Ulman. It's a great group!
When is #Askagent and why isn't it scheduled? Quite honestly, it isn't scheduled because those of us who co-host it never know when we are going to have a big enough chunk of uninterrupted free time every month. Also? The spontaneity of #Askagent is one of the things that makes it so much fun. When I have the time, I'll shoot an email off to my group of regulars (the agents, editors and other book industry pros who may be available to answer questions) and let them know when it will start (usually after 10:00 PM EST) and ask them to let me know if they be able to join us. And then I'll start throwing some tweets out into the wild to let the rest of the Twitter-verse know. I can always count on a handful of folks who read my Twitter feed to pass the message along at the speed of light, because most writers who have participated in #Askagent want to come back for more!
#Askagent moves fast, and sometimes questions need repeating because they move through the Twitter feed so quickly that we miss them, but we try to get to everyone as best we can. And not all of us have the same answers; one of the great things about #Askagent is that you get the feedback from more than one agent at a time, so that you can really start to understand just how subjective a business this is, and just how differently we operate. (By the way, we recommend using Tweetchat to follow #Askagent; much easier!)
There's only one rule at #Askagent: NO QUESTIONS ABOUT QUERY LETTERS!
Because, let's face it: one can only be asked "How can I write a better query letter?" so many times before one's head explodes in a Scanners-like organic veil of blood, brains and gore.
I admire agents who can repeatedly answer this question with grace and good humor. I, however, am not that agent.
I said it.
I don't want to talk about your query letters. I don't want to hear you to talk about your query letters. I don't care if anyone ever talks about query letters ever again in my lifetime. THAT'S how sick of the subject of query letters I am. My chat, my rules!
So... if you're going to join us in an #Askagent session - and I encourage you to do so! - please use that time to ask more productive questions of the book industry pros who are offering up their time for free. Ask about how coop works. Ask about marketing and publicity. Ask about non-fiction book proposals. Ask about platform building. Ask about how to build a relationship with your editor. Ask about the language in your contracts. Ask about anything other than query letters.
Because there's more to your writing career than your query letter.