First, who seriously hires a literary agent for an academic book? Most academic book deals, at least at our little press, come out of glad-handing and conference drinking sessions; Bossman knows pretty much everyone who submits a book to us, having been on the philosophy and religion circuit for years. Forget the agent fees and just buy a ticket to ACPA or AAR and a few drinks for the folks manning the book booths.
Second, the editor and intern are both academics. We both read academic books. You know, dry, dusty, and boring tomes. Even the best are usually dense, of interest to only a few nerds who find questions of (law as a kind of rule-guided social behavior/interpretive jurisprudence/modality in medieval logic and metaphysics/the possibility of unicorns existing) so amazingly fascinating that they’ll shell out a nice sum of money for a copy of their own. Thus, is describing the book you’re representing as “new and exciting” really a good idea?
Bossman and I got a few laughs out of the inquiry. Hey, if bad presentation’s the worst thing about that inquiry . . .