I only recently found this funny piece of agentry: Stephen Barbara discusses the Great American Query Letter

Barbara, who appears to have recently moved from the Donald Maass agency to Foundry Literary + Media, has been on my radar since I queried him on my previous project–he replied swiftly and with the kind of compliment that almost makes you forget there was a no preceding it.

I get that query letters are, for the habitually overworked agent, a great window into a writer’s ability to string words together and express ideas in a compelling manner. But people fucking obsess over queries. My impression is they’ve gone from a casual necessity to an industry of their own: many agents only accept a query–no sample material–and if you drop the ball on that, that agent’s never going to see a single word of what you consider your real work. No wonder people stress. Workshop their queries. Spend a comparable amount of time fine-tuning them as they do on their first chapter.

Still, something about it’s deeply exasperating. It’s one more piece to stress about in what’s already a hypercompetitive field. Barbara’s take is funny and refreshing (and, coolly, well written): he seems to be tired of the whole business of the query letter, and is instead much more interested in the actual material he’s considering whether to represent and attempt to sell.

Not to say that other agents aren’t. But as writers, that’s what we love to hear. I’m sure Mr. Barbara will be on pins and needles waiting for me to drop that query in his inbox as soon as my next book’s ready.

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