Anyway, jury duty was a bit anticlimactic this time because I didn't get selected to be on the jury. I don't know if jury selection is the same in every state, but where I live they have 24 jurors go into the jury selection process. The lawyers have 1 hour to get that jury from 24 to 6.
They start by asking questions to weed out the people who might be crazy or have biases that would make it difficult for them to judge fairly. It's pretty easy to tell who these people are. When asked if they would have a problem trusting law enforcement testimony they say policemen are all out to get us. Or when they are asked about how they feel about children testifying they say that kids are stupid and unreliable and they don't think they could believe anything a kid says.
Then the prosecution and the defense get to exclude 3 jurors each just because the attorneys think they might be sympathetic to the other side. They could easily make a mistake at this point. They've only had an hour to get to know 24 people. They can't know everything about them. Maybe they excuse jurors who would have been on their side. The first 6 people not to be excluded have to/get to be on the jury.
Some of the people who are excused feel a little rejected. They are competent people. They didn't do anything wrong. But the judge reminded us that it wasn't personal. The lawyers were just doing their best to put together a jury that would be fair to both sides.
I was one of the very last jurors in the room so I knew I wouldn't get picked unless more than half of the people in the front two rows were crazy. So I had plenty of time to contemplate other things, like what it must be like to sort through queries looking for clients.
I think it must be a little like jury selection. The agent or assistant starts with way more authors than they could possibly represent. It's easy to do the first cut. There are many people who don't follow submission guidelines, there are a few crazies, and there are probably some letters that are so poorly written the agent knows the writer couldn't put together coherent novel. I'm guessing none of you fit into this category.
The second round is more difficult. The agent has to read each letter and decide if the the story being offered is something they would like to read AND something they can sell. They have to make guesses. They don't have unlimited time so they have to limit their requests to the works that are most promising. They miss the mark sometimes. They might reject a piece they would have enjoyed and they might request pages they don't care for at all. But they do their best.
Query rejections (and sometimes even partial and full rejections) are done quickly and I think writers need to remember that rejection isn't personal. It doesn't mean the agent hates our ideas, or our writing. It doesn't even mean they didn't like it. It just means that they had a lot of material to get through and our project wasn't the one that stood out.
Have you ever thought about what it must be like to read all those query letters?