I have a knife in my craw today over a blog post written by a literary agent named Kate Testerman, from K. T. Literary Agency. This post has started a heap of controversy, mostly against, and very few who are understanding. Below is her snarky post.
I’ve been working on getting caught up on my massive query pile, and
in one I read today, I came across the term “pre-published.”
wasn’t the first time I’ve heard this particular phrase, but it needled
my craw today. For one thing, the querying writer used this to describe
themselves, as if the term “aspiring author” or heaven forbid,
“unpublished writer” was too negative. As I said on Twitter in polling
my fellow agents about this particular phrase, it strikes me as a little
too close to every kid on the team getting a trophy just for showing
Looks, guys, I get it: you’re certain you’re going to make it big one
day. You’re gonna be a star, baby, a STAR! And maybe that’s true.
But calling yourself fancy names as if to hide the fact that you haven’t made it yet just feels disingenuous.
If we must permit the phrase “pre-published” to be used, save it for
the author whose debut novel has been acquired, but is yet to be
Seriously? I mean, seriously? "If we MUST PERMIT THE PHRASE? What? We need permission now? As we all know, you can log onto any agency site, or publishers site to find sample query letters--samples of just about everything is out there if you look for it. If agencies don't want individuality, then the agency should just issue a standard form letter and the author can fill in the blanks with their submission.
I've been stewing about this all day. It's no secret, I come out of my corner like a lion for the underdog, and this one just caught me off guard. I thought this agent was way out of line mocking a new writer who obviously thought she was being cute. And while this particular agent thought it a disgrace, when I write a query letter, I write it in the same vein as I write my lighthearted romances. If I wrote my query letter in a stoic manner, and my story is a laugh a minute, doesn't that sound like I'm pretending to be someone I'm not?
I'm all for professionalism, but I think this woman took this too far. I think she has just shot herself in the foot. Apparently, she hasn't considered that there are many of us blogging about this tonight, that what she's posted is on every loop, and everyone knows her name. I've seen it more than once today that people are going to remember her name. I hope you will too when you're looking for an agent. She obviously thinks she's way more important than she actually is.
Another issue is what has she just done to this author's confidence? As I said, this is all over the loops. People can't stop talking and posting about it. I'm certain this writer has heard about it.
You know, writing isn't a simple task of sitting down and these words magically appear on the page. We work darn hard. You isolate yourself to meet deadlines, you skip functions so you can finish the manuscript for submittal to an agency or publisher, and you write the best story you know how. And it takes a lot to put your self out there. The very fact that she dissed on this woman is unforgivable.
I think the other thing she hasn't taken into consideration is that some day, probably sooner rather than later, she won't have a job because authors are making a lot more money from self-pubbing than publishers are giving. And why would we authors want to give 15% to an agent when we can make much more on our own. So my message to Kate Testerman is to be careful about who she's mocking because we authors will stop submitting and she won't have a job.