The most powerful words in the industry are “What have you heard?” Whether it’s about a book, an agent, or a publisher, there is always SOMEONE who knows something and can offer an opinion. So there’s no excuse for jumping into something before you know the score, right?
Word of mouth is the breakfast of champions.
But what drives me a bit loony is when I hear this: “I queried a publisher/agent and they asked for pages. Anyone know anything about them?”
My first question is why on earth are you querying ANYONE you haven’t researched? It’s like being on an operating table and asking the nurses what they’ve heard about the surgeon. Yikes! You’d never allow someone to jumble about your innards without knowing whether they knew the difference between a scalpel and a butter knife, so why would you do any differently with a book that took you ages to write?
And yet I see this time and time again – on writer’s boards and at conferences. Writers will ask me what I’ve heard about Publisher ABC or Agent XYZ because they sent them their full manuscript. It always takes me aback because I worry about their blind trust. Trust must be earned. Just because someone calls herself an agent or editor doesn’t mean she knows what she’s doing. I’ve seen way too many writers burned this way because they figured that person was “someone important.”
And they might not be. They might be a scam, or someone who’s only been in business for five minutes. My point is that you don’t know until you’ve checked them out. So please, dear authors – in the interests of a brand new year and fresh starts – look BEFORE you leap. It’s the difference between making a terrible mistake and a knowledgeable decision. After all, you’d hate to make the beagle cry, right?