No one will deny it’s tough to get an agent. There are tons of aspiring authors out there, and a comparatively small number of agents. Demand greatly exceeds supply. And it doesn’t help that agents are extraordinarily busy people. It’s not uncommon for a manuscript or query letter to sit around for weeks, even months, before an agent gets around to looking at it. Is it any wonder that we writers sometimes feel a bit desperate to have our manuscripts seen?
Yes, writers sometimes resort to some rather extreme methods to get agents to take a look at their work. Here are a couple of bad stories I’ve heard:
An agent was staying at a hotel for a multi-day writers’ conference. One evening, rather late, there was a knock on his hotel room door. He answered it to find a woman standing in the hall, manuscript in hand, who proceeded to pitch her book to him. Curious as to how she knew which room he was in, he coaxed from her the story: she had convinced the front desk to give her his room number by calling them up, pretending to be a relative of his, and claiming she needed to speak with him immediately because there had been a dire family emergency. Once she had his room number, she was free to show up at his door.
Another agent was in the restroom at a writers’ conference when a hand suddenly came over the top of the stall door, holding a manuscript. That’s right—someone had followed her into the ladies’ room and attempted to give her their manuscript while she was on the toilet.
Oh dear. Please let such stories serve as a reminder—always strive to be professional in your dealings with agents. Going to extremes to get an agent to read your manuscript isn’t going to impress them. It’s going to amuse, annoy, vex, or creep them out. They might even call the police. At any rate, it’s sure to convince them that you are absolutely, positively not someone they want to work with. Writing is like any other profession—respectfulness, reasonableness, and common courtesy are much appreciated.
What are the worst stories you’ve heard when it comes to approaching agents?
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