P.S. My dog hates your manuscript.

As a whole, our geriatric black lab is so friendly she would lead a robber to the jewelry box.  You could probably strap a harness on her and she’d pull the tv up the stairs and send you on your way with a parting lick.

Unless, of course, you wore a UPS uniform and arrived when we were home.

Then she would hate you.  As soon as your truck rumbled down the street, she would stand, stiff-legged, at the end of the driveway with her hackles raised.  Geriatric Lab, who never barks, would growl deep in her throat and bare what’s left of her teeth.  You would then pass by the driveway without slowing down and take my much anticipated book with you. 

If, on the other hand, you arrived when our little fam was gone, she’d welcome you with a wag.  Garbage men leave empty-handed, but the recycling guys are adored.  Apparently she hates when the trash dudes steal our rubbish, but knows the value of a green world.   She also despises the friendly neighbor who jogs by daily and offers her doggie treats, but can’t wait for a visit from traveling salesmen.

She’s rather eccentric in what she likes and doesn’t.  For example, if you were a pheasant, she’d snatch you out of the air as you tried to flee.  Troublesome rabbits that eat my flowers, however, are as safe as a baby in the nursery.  Tennis balls she’ll chase.  Sticks, not a chance.  She’ll even pick her pills out of her food and eat those, leaving her kibbles for another time.

There is no rhyme or reason to what floats her boat, and I thank God she’s not an agent.

Her profile would look something like this:

I love food, except when I can eat medicine.  Thieves can take whatever they want, unless it’s the trash.  Don’t suck up with treats if you jog by everyday.  Random strangers are welcome to visit sans biscuits.  I’m a ferocious predator and quite talented at nabbing pheasants on the fly, but turn my nose up at robins, rabbits and red-winged black birds.  Fetch is okay as long you throw the right toy.  Please recycle when possible unless you’re peddling a new set of encyclopedias.

No wonder the UPS man only delivers when Geriatric Lab is not outside.

And yet, there are agents exactly like her.  Their sites invite us to indulge in their submission buffet policy.  “We’ll look at anything.”  Or, “If in doubt, send.”  Or, “The only thing we look for is good story-telling.”  We assume this means they are open to anything.

We happily bundle up our middle grade novel, The Fantastic Felines  Outer Space Adventures.  The one with endorsements from fourteen award-winning authors.  The one we interviewed Neil Armstrong for. 

Two days later, we get a rejection.  

Duh, Newbie.  I don’t rep middle grade, and sci-fi was so yesterday.  Please, don’t waste my time submitting a book outside my area of expertise. 

They might as well send a post script with their rejection.

P.S.  My dog hates you.

Have you run across obscure preference lists on agent’s websites?  How does this open door policy appeal to you?  Have you submitted to agencies like this only to be rebuffed for indulging in their hospitality?  Or, do you submit to agents with clear likes and dislikes to avoid wasting everybody’s time?

What do you look for when checking out an agent’s website or blog?  How far do you research before submitting? 

My dog wants to know.


21 responses to “P.S. My dog hates your manuscript.

  1. Ruff ruff.

    I did once receive an unusually snarky rejection from some Big Shot who said he doesn’t represent the genre, so I sent him back a reply that said “dude, update your profile.”

    I’m still waiting for all of my .44 cent stamps that are attached to the “snail mail only” SASE’s to float into my mailbox. It’s only been 7 months.

    • Pete,

      Did you really email Big Shot? Somehow you’re about the only writer I know with enough guts to pull that off!

      I feel your pain with the MIA stamps. I think I’m still waiting for some .41 cent stamps to come home!

  2. I had an incident with a dog and the UPS guy, too. From my kitchen window I spotted a puppy across the street in the neighbor’s yard. It wasn’t their puppy, the neighbors were gone, and it was absolutely adorable! I have a soft spot for puppies. (That’s how we got Baby) So I walk out in front just as the UPS driver pulled up across the street. I started whistling for the dog, hoping he would come to me. Imagine my shock when the UPS guy turns quickly and looks my way and starts smiling. At first I was clueless, until I realized he thought I was whistling AT HIM! I was so embarrassed and to this day I don’t look the UPS guy in the face. I make the kids answer the door when we have a delivery…

  3. Peter, don’t get me started with FedEx guys! There was an incident there, too. But I’ve said too much… lol

  4. My old lab also hates the UPS van and man with a fiery passion. I think it’s a worldwide lab thing.

    I once read on an agent’s blog that she doesn’t like “stupid” email addresses, that she considers them unprofessional. Mind you, this wasn’t on her website, and she said it didn’t count against the sender, but how could I be sure?

    Sometimes, I prefer medicine over food, too, depending on the medicine. ^_^ Your dog and I should hang out.

    • Barbara, I don’t know if you want her. She’s old, smelly and sheds an awful lot. In this way, I think you and she are very different : )

      Nice commentary from the agent. As a writer, I prefer to work with professionals as well. Her “stupid” reference wouldn’t make her my first pick. It’s good to do your research and it sounds like you knew this wasn’t a match. Even though your email address doesn’t appear to be stupid in any way.

  5. UPS stories are funnier than agent stories, aren’t they?

  6. Love your dog! She’s got a definite fun side! 🙂

    This made me laugh. When I sent out queries for my previous ms I ran into this. AQ’s database doesn’t list romantic suspense as a genre. I narrowed the agent list down by fiinding agents who repped both romance and suspense. Then I checked websites to see. No one mentioned rom-susp. No one.

    Because I’ve read a lot of it, I know it’s out there. So I figured I’d send 10 queries to agents who repped both. I got 2 requests, 2 form rejections & 6 agents who responded saying they didn’t represent that genre. Sigh.

    I know more now, so I could refine my research some, but it is frustrating! 🙂 Maybe if you could get your lab to bark when I’m researching the correct agent??? That might help 🙂

    • I’ll try, but she’s old and lazy and I’m not sure if she’s up to learning new tricks!

      It is frustrating when your manuscript fits the book shelves, but is never specifically mentioned on the website. I have run into this with peddling my chapter book. Websites state they rep all genres of juvenile lit, or picture book and middle grade with no mention of Chapter Books.

      So, where do they fit? Because depending on who you talk to, it’s not necessarily within those categories. Maybe writers need super spy glasses and a fast internet connection!

  7. “There is no rhyme or reason to what floats her boat, and I thank God she’s not an agent.”
    Haha thank you for the laugh- I needed this! 🙂
    My dogs are just as unstable as your adorable lab!
    As for agents; I do a lot of research, check out lots of websites & blogs and my policy is, stay away from agents who says they’re interested in ‘anything and everything as long as it’s good story telling’. I feel more comfortable when an agent is specific about what he/she is looking for…

    • Lua,

      You have an excellent policy on submitting to agents. I’m so picky when it comes to submitting that I about know what kind of toothpaste an agent uses before I’m willing to send my baby into cybersphere.

      What kind of dogs do you have?

      • I have a Havanese (Apple) and a Yorkie (Chuck)… Needless to say, Yorkie rules the house 🙂

  8. I’ve never had a response that the agent doesn’t accept my genre, but at least half don’t respond at all, so who knows.

    I do my research, but still have a hard time thinking of natural ways to insert “I saw on your website that you like ______,” so I usually skip it. Hopefully the fact that the query matches what they rep and their name is spelled correctly is enough.

  9. I love your dog! I try to query agents that have specific preferences listed. TK, I guess we know what brown does for you! 😉 Okay sorry, I couldn’t resist that. Your UPS guy is probably going to love going to your house. lol

    • She loves you too! As a devoted member of our household, she loves those we love.

      Now if she were TK’s dog, it would follow that she would love the UPS man. Or at least want to whistle at him!

  10. Great post!! LOVE your dog. Reminds me of my old black lab, who loved everyone except for the one neighbor who kept trying to buy his affection with treats. HATED him.

    I have a cat that likes the UPS guy, and every other male stranger that comes to the door– so much so that he tries to climb up their leg to perch on their shoulder. Unfortunately, this leaves me trying to unhook my cat’s claws from the pants of men I don’t know, right at crotch level. I swear he does it on purpose. lol.

    Weirdest reference by an agent was one that liked fantasy, unless it had elves, which gave her hives. lol.

    • LOL, Cali!

      I can just picture you prying your cat from strange men. I hear a story in there somewhere. Some funky side effect of one of your magical elixers?

      I love your agent preference. Elves=hives. Can’t say I blame her, though mine would be gnomes. The little buggers are a tad creepy!

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


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