Let’s start with an obvious statement straight from the book of “well durrh!” : Agents are busy people.
Controversial, I know, but that’s that and therein lies the problem. They are tasked with, not only the job of looking after their current clients and making sure their needs are met and that they aren’t stolen away from them in the middle of the night by the evil agent across town, but they also have to keep an eye out for new talent at the same time.
How do their brains work? Well, let’s put it this way: let’s pretend that they have spent the whole day running around trying to appease a particularly important client, made phone calls, told their bosses what’s going on or what isn’t going on and why, pressure pressure pressure. Then, they get your email. You want them to represent you too and have given them a brief description of why you think you’re so great and why they should spend some of this hard fought over spare time to read the three chapters you’ve given them.
Online are plenty of guides, a lot of them written by agents themselves, explaining what a submission to an agency should contain and what mistakes people often make. That being the case, I can imagine how fed up they get when a submission turns up with bad spelling, bad formatting, the wrong attachment or no attachment. It’s only a few minutes to check these things before submitting and also a short enough time to read the rules they expect to be followed. This is partly why so many people are rejected each year. You need to woo them, let them know that, not only will you be easy to work with, that you are methodical and professional, but also that you don’t write like a grapefruit with learning difficulties.
I talk as if I know the game inside out, of course I don’t, hence I’m unsigned. Of the agents who have been kind enough to reply to my submissions, I’ve had one template with my name in a different colour to the rest of the text, one that suggested I read a book on writing from about 1908 that everyone I asked about it said it was basically a waste of eyeball use, and one that was actually really nice. The agent rejected me and gave his specific reasons but stated very clearly that it was his own opinion, that other agents might feel differently, and wished me the best of luck. It was lovely.
This sounds like I’m expecting the agents to jump when I say, I hope not. I should point out that, in one of my last submissions, I left in “Dear Agent X” in my template, therefore proving I was most likely spamming every agent under the sun or that I thought this person was some evil representative from S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
Either way I was not surprised that, three months later, they had not responded. They have my sincere pity.