LitMatch: Research Literary Agents and Track Submissions

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Perils of Query Blasting

Spend a little time searching for agents online and you’re bound to come across any number of websites that promise to send queries to agents for you, in exchange for a fee. These sites are commonly referred to as Query Blasters. They offer a pretty tempting proposition to writers who hate the whole submission process, which, let’s face it, is most of us. Some of you have even asked us to add this kind of service to LitMatch, and though we value your feedback and hate to disappoint, we’re not going to. That’s because query blasting almost always does more harm than good.

The reasons are many. First, a blasting service puts an additional, unnecessary step between you and the agent you want to reach. You’ve spent months, perhaps even years, developing your project and honing your query letter, slaving over and perfecting every word. Are you willing to trust your first impression to the publishing world to someone who hasn’t read your book, doesn’t understand your goals, and, frankly, doesn’t care if you succeed? You’re far better off eliminating the middleman and sending the query yourself.

Second, query blasting doesn’t let you tailor your query to the agents you’re submitting to. Personalization means a lot, and if your query tells an agent that you’ve read other books he’s represented and because of that, you feel he’d be interested in your book, that makes an impression. There’s no way around it; that kind of judgment is one that only you can make. It’s your book, it’s your future, and that means it has to be your search, too.

Third, blasted queries have a higher chance of being ignored or missed by they’re sent to. Because query blasters tend to use volume as a selling point, your query is likely to get blasted to agents who don’t represent they type of book you’re selling. Worse than that, blasted queries often originate from a single email address, and when an agent sees a bunch of queries for irrelevant projects coming from one source, it will look a lot like spam and will be treated accordingly. Even if you have that agent’s dream project, it could still get tossed aside like so much trash.

Finally, there’s nothing a query blaster can do that you can’t do better. Most of them work through email, and how hard is it to push the send button? Check to make sure an agent actually wants emails before you do, and you’ve increased your chances dramatically. Spend a little time personalizing your query, and your chances go up again!

The short advice: don’t waste your money.

Trading money for a savings in time is fine, but before you part with a single penny, you need to make sure that the money you spend is going to have the effect you want. Otherwise, you’re just throwing your hard-earned cash down a deep, dark hole.

Christopher Hawkins


Ugowach said...

A commendable, revealing and meaningful advice to writers, Christopher.

Thanks for sharing your worthy post with us writers. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

I really value your opinion. I had not heard of this before.

Jeanette Cheezum