About referrals

October 27th, 2008 • Kate

So I’m going through my queries today, and I notice the name of a professional editor popping up a number of times on letters to me. Which would be fine, normally — I love the idea of an editor passing my name to clients whose manuscripts match my stated interests.
But that’s not what’s happening. These queries are coming piling in, and they’re all over the board — but mostly in nonfiction, and mostly in genres or categories I have no interest in representing whatsoever.
Now, I’ve sent off an email to the editor, checking if he is giving out my name, but it leads to a bit of advice for ALL querying authors: if you get a referral from someone to an agent or editor, don’t just blindly send something off to that agent or editor without doing some further research of your own. Google them, see if you can learn more about their preferences, and if you find their interests match your manuscript, only THEN, should you send off your query.
The best way to handle a referral? Same as the best way to find an agent on your own: research, research, research, followed up with personalization. I also got a query from an author who was referred to me by a former colleague, who actually did research my interests, had been reading my blog, and sent a personalized letter. That one got a response requesting their material. The other queries? Not so much.
I’ve said this before — not everyone who may have a contact in the publishing world will be the best judge of the worth of that contact, so don’t put ALL your trust in referrals. Consider them a primary source, but make sure you have secondary sources that back them up.

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