According to institutional advice, you're supposed to send query letters to agents that represent writers like you. The underlying assumption here is that the agent might like your writing if s/he picked up another writer with a similar style. But sometimes that advice is complete crap for reasons that are completely out of your control. Let me be more specific: So, I sent query letters to the agents of three of my favorite writers, all in one week + all of their agents have a full client list. Dude, there's nothing you do about that kinda shit. But it still sucks. So here's the damage:
First I wrote J.D. Salinger's former agent, Phyllis Westberg at Harold Ober Associates. Here's what she said:
Dear Jackson Bliss,
Thank you for your recent letter. Regretfully, my workload at present is too heavy for me to take on new authors.
I wish you every success with your work.
[with her editorial assistant's signature]
Next, I wrote Don DeLillo's agent, Lois Wallace at the Wallace Literary Agency + received this form rejection a few hours later:
The Wallace Literary Agency is not currently considering new clients. Thank you nevertheless for your query with which we wish you success.
Finally, because I decided I was fucking sick of not being published + that it was time to go all out here (but also because I was getting extremely impatient + upset with the world + even sad at how daunting it is--has always been--to find the right literary representation), I wrote agent extraordinaire, Nicole Aragi, telling her that I'd been working with TC Boyle + Aimee Bender on my second novel for a few years now + that Tom recommended I query her, something I'd been putting off for a while now because I didn't want to blow my one chance with her. As it turns out, it didn't matter. This morning, she sent me this unbelievably gracious (but also heart-breaking) response:
Dear Jackson Bliss,
Thank you for your query.
I wish I could at least offer to read your work but I'm simply not taking on new clients at the moment; my list is crammed full and I’m juggling as much as I can handle. I may well be missing out on something wonderful, but I'm determined not to over-stretch as I'd hate to neglect any of my current authors.
My apologies for this disappointing response, I hope that someone else comes through for you soon.
With regrets and very best wishes,
And here was my response:
Dear Nicole Aragi,
Okay, I understand. As impossible as it'll probably be to find an agent as good as you (especially one with such an amazingly multicultural list of clients), I'll keep fighting to publish this novel. Thanks for your gracious and timely response. I wish you nothing but continued success.
So while my respect for Nicole Aragi increases (which I thought was impossible because I already had crazy respect for her), my chances, sadly, at getting published have diminished a lot in one week. As far as agents go, this week fucking sucked ass, man.