I tried, like all writers, to procure an agent by following their submission guidelines for queries. I actually found a few agents whose guidelines required exclusivity to the query for a few months. No writer trying to get his first novel published, nor any writer, for that matter, is going to stop sending queries for six months while eagerly waiting for that email, which, most likely will never come. Since agents reject about 96% queries out of hand, I assume this guideline is meant to dissuade queries being sent to them. I never did.
Though an agent represents a writer, it should be kept in mind that agents work with publishers for whom they try to fill requests for the type of books the publishing company is seeking, which means agents are scouting for publishers, and that means that publishers, in a real sense, are agents true clients.
Even if your query is read, a manuscript is requested, and if finally a publishing deal is in the works, it could easily take a year, maybe a year and a half. And writers want to get published now, not far down a road that perhaps is a dead end. The digital world has created the venue for writers to control their own destiny. The downside is that with over one million titles, competition to get your books noticed means that fork in the road, like an LA freeway, is gridlocked. But better to be gridlocked going somewhere than parked in the garage.
Besides, since agents turned down “Gone with the Wind” over 170 times; rejected Fitzgerald, and every other writer who has ever been published, it seems they can’t read well to begin with. They are paid to say ‘no’ and stay with whom they know, not writers they don’t. They are brokers, more than readers.
I want to share a column by John Yeoman whose blog Writers Village has given me many good writing tips and his recent blog on agents is a sharply critical rant on what might be a dying profession-the agent.