My First (Unsuccessful) Query to an Agent
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Manuscript Question
From: Joseph Clifford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sat, April 05, 2008 4:07 pm
I understand your agency's reticence to read unsolicited/un-referred manuscripts. I've edited enough literary magazines and have endured enough insufferable graduate writing workshops to know most writing is shit, most ideas stupid, and the thought of your having to read 279-odd pages of some random MFA's jackoff-existential rant or plot-less serial killer opus probably seems as appealing as repeatedly jamming a fork in your eye. Still, you are a literary agency, and I'm guessing you don't mind representing talent. So my question to you--and this is assuming the "you" isn't some rejected MA volunteer and somebody who actually matters--is this: how do I get the David Hale Literary Agency to read my manuscript? It's fucking good, I can write, and all that. I just finished Swierczynski's The WheelMan, and while the novel I'm pitching isn't in remotely the same style, it is in the same very, very broad ballpark. (Or to use a ten-cent word I acquired from my waste-of-time Master's program: it's in the same milieu.) I had a former professor [query an agent] on my behalf, and she's agreed to look at my manuscript, but she's taking a goddamn long time getting back to me, and I want to cast my net as widely as possible anyway, because I have the attention span of a gnat, and if I don't get a bite on this thing soon, I'll probably just go back to doing what I do best: being a thug/criminal/malcontent on the Left Coast and getting fucked over by hot chicks. So who do I have to get to blow so you'll take a look at this thing? Thanks.
PS If this is some "reject MA volunteer," I apologize. Good luck with the Derrida.
Only because you wrote such a sweet note... Please email a brief synopsis and the first 100 pages of the manuscript as Word or PDF attachments.
If you need anything else, feel free to contact me.
* Ultimately they passed, but they read it, and they were very nice about it. (I wrote a similar letter, though slightly less abrasive to my current agent, who gently explained that before they'd agree to look at anything, first I needed to learn how to write a proper proposal. Which I did. Like Vonnegut, I have a disease with the telephone and alcohol late at night, though in my case you can replace "telephone" with "Internet" and "alcohol" with "desperate insanity.")