Every time I send out a query, if the agent has a Twitter account I add him or her to a list so I can follow them. Sometimes this gives me a sense of how long it’s taking them to get through their queries; for example, now and then an agent will tweet: “I’m through all queries sent before 9/1” or something like that. Gives me an idea of where I am in the queue. Too, following these agents can give me an idea of whether or not my manuscript is something they’ll truly like. Many might say “literary fiction” on their sites, but if they tweet about books they’ve enjoyed or are enjoying, I can sense where I fall on their personal spectrum.
But I have to say . . . Sometimes agents on Twitter give me the notion they aren’t reading much of anything at all.
Wait! If you happen to be an agent, don’t storm off yet. Just hear me out. So many agents tweet about being out at the bar, or partying over the weekend, or attending Comic Con . . . And there are only so many hours in a day, a week, a month. If these agents are out doing all this stuff, when are they reading queries? ARE they reading queries?
Now, I know Twitter is not all of life in one place. Twitter is very small snapshots of things happening. So my sincere hope (and assumption) is that these agents are reading and responding to queries if/when they are absent from Twitter. (Some are more absent than others, though, so if there are no breaks in their tweets . . .)
Then again, some of those absences must be devoted to sleeping, right? Hmm.
And of course I know and acknowledge that agents, like anyone else, have the right to go have fun. So if they’re tweeting about concerts and whatnot, well, it’s only fair they get out sometimes.
It’s only when an agent seems to be out all the time that I start to wonder. And there are a couple of those.
Anyway, this is just an observation on my part. Authors are warned to watch what they post lest it besmirch their image. Accordingly, maybe agents should consider whether all their tweets are making them look flaky. As an author actively submitting queries, I want to believe these agents are hard at work and seriously considering each submission, but thanks to social media the privacy walls have fallen and that mystique agents once held is evaporating. It’s nice to see they’re just people, but it’s less exciting to see that though they spout a lot about being buried in queries, sometimes they don’t seem to be doing much to dig themselves out. How can I believe, “I get hundreds of queries a month, and it’s really hard work,” when your Twitter feed shows me you’re mostly hanging out with your friends, going to bars and restaurants and concerts and movies and comic conventions and the beach? It makes me feel you don’t respect my time and effort as an author and also makes me lose some respect for you as a potential agent.
I’m sure Twitter skews the view. I’m sure many if not all of these agents really do work as hard as they seem to play. But with no other data to go on—with Twitter as my only window into the agents’ worlds—it’s somewhat disheartening.