You’d think that after 30 submissions to literary agents, I’d have pretty much seen it all, right? After all, how complicated can this part of the process be? Agents give you an email address and guidelines about how to approach them and you write your query , tailoring if you can to the specifics of the particular agent and you hit ‘SEND’.
Agent #30 has a whole different approach. She doesn’t have a “website”, per se, but more of a ‘webpage’ or a ‘webpresence’. And, if I’m reading correctly between the cyberlines, it’s powered by a website called submishmash.com
Turns out that submishmash.com is a website that helps people like literary agents, talent agents, publishers of all kinds and I don’t know what else to manage the submissions that they receive from aspiring writers, artists, musicians and I don’t know else.
This particular agent wanted the usual query letter plus the first 10 pages of the manuscript. That isn’t terribly unusual, but in order to submit them I had to create a Submishmash account (which took me all of 15 seconds) and having done that, it took me to the submissions page for this agent. Then I filled out a form consisting of two fields (the equivalent of an email in that it had a “title” field (like the subject field of an email) and a “body” field in which I wrote my query letter. Then, in order to submit the first 10 pages, I had to create a new Word doc with just those 10 pages in it. Again, none of this was terribly difficult nor did it take up very much time but it was a whole different way of approaching an agent. I couldn’t help but think, I assume I’m doing this right…
As soon as I hit ‘Submit’, I got an email acknowledging receipt of my submission (so I guess I did it right) and explaining that I could now check on the status of my query on the submishmash website. Out of curiosity more than anything else (after all, it had only been mere seconds since I’d submitted) I went to the “My Submissions” page and there was my (one-and-only) query and under ‘Status’ it says ‘Received’ (as against ‘Accepted’, ‘Declined, or ‘Withdrawn’.)
It was then that I understood how useful a system like that could be. For someone like me who is offering up his work all over the country, keeping a track of it all can be time-consuming and laborious, especially when you’re approaching people who make no promises of even getting back to you with a ‘Get lost.’ Unfortunately of the 30 agents I’ve approached, only one is using this system but in a process where you feel you have zero power, zero input, zero access and are really just paddling along in the dark hoping someone may be kind enough to light a hurricane lamp for you (even if that someone uses it to flash ‘Get lost’ in Morse code) this high-tech, whiz-bang approach to groveling is refreshingly encouraging. At least you know you’re not getting ignored like a donkey at the Kentucky Derby.