writing business

Why Don’t Agents Respond to a Querying Author?

After critique groups and a professional editor, I finished editing my young adult, science fiction novel and decided to query agents before I attempted self-publishing.

Of the eighty agents I queried so far, forty percent did not respond. (Twelve percent of the rejections did not come from the agent, which is a topic for another blog post.)

I have trouble understanding why agents do not respond to a writer’s query. Yes, some agents get a lot of queries and may not have the staff to help them sort through the submissions. Yet, there are software programs that make it easy to at least email a simple, prepared rejection form.

This leads me to assume (maybe wrongly) that the lack of a response from agents is either laziness or a lack of respect (i.e. snobbery) toward writers.

When I read agents’ comments, they give the appearance of liking authors. They also encourage and advertise writers to submit a query. Then, why does an agent not send a response when rejecting a submission?

Maybe agents do not like sending rejections. But getting nothing is worse than getting a rejection. A nonresponse is a rejection with added rejection thrown in. It sends a message that not only is the submission not wanted, the writer should not have sent it.

I can go on with assumptions and guesses. In the end, I remain puzzled as to why agents would show disrespect to writers by not responding to their query. I could call some of the agents and ask them why, but they say not to call them.

I’m not letting it bother me. After eighty queries, I’m more worried about this self-publishing world I’m headed into.

Which is more important: Book Cover or Interior Design?

The outside of the book is what a reader sees first. The inside is what the reader sees the most.

Which is more important when designing a book? The cover or the interior?

Of course, both are important. But, with limited resources I hear many self-published authors focus more on the outside rather than the interior of their book. (Publishers know to do both or they don’t remain publishers for long.)

There is more to designing the interior of a book. This includes selecting a font type and size; adjusting page margins and paragraph spacing to create white space, and whether to indent paragraphs or not. Other considerations include allowing widowing (preventing a word or end of a paragraph to continue at the top of the next page) and having a new chapter start on the right.

A book’s cover includes images, shades of color, and the font type and size for the title and author’s name.

As I’ve blogged before, I disagree with people who believe the outside design of a book is critical to capturing a reader’s attention. This makes it seem the cover is more important. Over the years, I’ve talked to readers who bought a book because of the title, author, and/or genre. The cover was not that important.

To me, this means the interior of the book is more important than the outside cover. And, the interior should be more important. Readers are going to spend their time inside the book rather than on the outside. Along with the story, the interior should be one of the most important features of the book.

If I ever get my book published, I will pay attention to the cover. However, I intend to spend much more time on the interior design.

Being in a Writing Group

For almost a year, I’ve been president of a writer’s club. It’s been easy because the other board members have been an invaluable help. I’ve also been part of a critique group for several years. I encourage writers to get involved in a writer’s club and a critique group to connect with the writing community in their area and help improve their writing.

Of course, the wrong personalities can make joining a club or group a negative experience. I found these types of organizations few and easy to quit. The biggest challenge is finding a writers’ club or critique group to join.

Most communities do not have a club or group for writers. There are online ones, which I joined, too. However, the online life seems too impersonal and distant. I found meeting and interacting with people is better for my writing.

If there is no club or group, a writer could form a critique group which are small, informal, and focused on critiquing. Plus, there are lots of guidelines on how to do conduct this group. A club can be more complicated and formal with bylaws.

To start a critique group, a writer could go to the local library. Many writers come to the library seeking a group to join and libraries generally support writers. Another place to go is the English Department of a community college.

I recently went to a small writer’s conference where I met three students from the local community college. With no creative writing classes offered, they formed their own critique group with help from an English teacher. It quickly became several critique groups.

I have another year left as president. The club has been a great way to make connections with the writing community. Also, my critique group has been a great way to improve my writing. Writers should meet other writers.

Finding a Web Designer

Anyone reading this blog will notice changes to the format. Some of you may say, “About time.”

When I set up this website over a year ago, I had a hard time finding a web designer. I needed a one time service since I would do the follow up posting and maintenance. I guess the web designers I contacted wanted more long-term work and declined. So, I did my own webpage.

I should have kept trying to find a web designer. I also should have gone a simpler route. Instead, I wanted flexibility to design a unique website and I had to learn a lot about WordPress. The last time I created a webpage, html was popular.

Eventually, I got my website up and running and have posted for over a year. Yet, I knew I was missing a lot on the webpage. I decided to do an update.

However, I would have to start over learning WordPress after forgetting what I learned before. Starting over was not appealing. This time, however, I went a different route to find a web designer.

At first, I tried the method I used before without luck. So, I decided to look at the web designs of other bloggers and who they used.

Anne R. Allen is a popular and famous blogger who posts about writing and blogging. She uses Bakerview Consulting who I contacted. This web designer not only was a great help, but was inexpensive.

Anyone having trouble with their blog and unable to find a web designer could use my method. Go to a blog you like and see who they use as a web designer. It worked for me.