Submissions Heads up

I've been contemplating the thread ("ooops") that started with a Snarkling asking if agents alerted clients ahead of time about where their projects were being submitted. I said no, and got some flak for it along the lines of "why not, it's just an email".

Late last night I got an email rejection from an editor who'd had the novel for awhile. Naturally I was at my desk to receive the email and whip one right back to him with a suggestion on another book. Now, the second author was, I hope, snoozing merrily away and dreaming sweet writer dreams, while all this happened. Was I going to wait till morning? Was I going to call the author? Answer to both; Hell no.

This is my job. It's not yours. Your job is to write. Bottom line: if you have some sort of rock solid requirement that your book not be submitted to publishers who did an OJ book (of course I've seen that) or who aren't owned by Germans (that too) or who do not employ your ex spouse/lover/dog (ya, ya, and well no, but close) you gotta mention that upfront.

One of the books I sold last year was cause I happened to mention it to an editor at a party who I thought would have NO, zero, zippo interest. Turns out her publishing house was launching a new imprint and my book was perfect. There was no way to know ahead of time that I'd be submitting to her. Was I going to call the author and say "this new publisher is interested" and then withdraw the submission if the author quibbled? Again, and with fervor: hell no.

It's not been my practice to ask clients if they have such requirements, I may have to start doing so. Mostly my clients just hand me the manuscript and say "call me when you've got an offer".


Anonymous said...

Now there's one I don't understand. Why on earth would I want to know where an agent is going to send my stuff? For me -- personally -- a large chunk of why I want an agent is so I never have to figure out where to send the dratted manuscript, ever again. I HATE figuring out where to send it. I HATE trying to figure out what publisher does stuff similar enough and different enough for my story to slip in without gagging the editor.

Oh...excuse the phlegm. Sometimes this business makes me a little crazy.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Jan. Micromanaging an agent's job seems abrasive. An author's job is to create the work, an agent's to sell it. Snark on, MS.

Anonymous said...

My agent let me see the submission list before the ms went out, asked if I had any editors I wanted to add (I did) and gives me the disposition of each submission. I appreciate that this is how she runs her submission process. I run my own business, so it's my nature to want details. My agent provides them as a matter of course.

It's all about finding the right agent/writer match, not just for the creative side but for the business aspects, as well.

Love this blog, BTW.

Anonymous said...

i hope Her Snarkiness doesn't mind a plug for Agent 007. Her (?) most recent post, giving the sale of a book from both an agent's and editor's frame was very instructive for authors. Go read her "Spy vs. Spy" post. And, of course, this is not to take away any fanfare from Her Snarkiness.

Anonymous said...

In the very unlikely event a client wanted to leave Miss Snark, the client would need the submission trail to provide a new agent. Delivering the updates as they happen, at least the who and when if not the actual emails and letters, would avoid an awkward request for the information during the divorce.

Anonymous said...

I can definitely see why an agent shouldn't need permission to submit somewhere. But why is it so hard for agents to let their clients know where the book has been submitted, after the fact? They don't all do that, unless asked. I think it's important for clients to see a submission trail and to be kept up to date.

Anonymous said...

Oh Goddess of the Gin Pail, if I was your author and I (innocently) asked where my manuscript had been submitted, would you fire me? Or would you warn me before we signed our agreement that I should mind my own business or risk a spanking? (And if I was your author, wouldn't you be working for me?)

Anonymous said...

My agent has had my ms for six weeks and I haven't heard a peep from her. That suits me just fine. Getting daily updates of where it is, where it's going and so on would only make me a nervous wreck (sort of the pre-pub version of the Hourly Amazon Sales Rank Check). This way, I live my life in blissful ignorance, and only want to hear from her when she either sells it, or decides it's time to talk about what happens next. She's been in the biz a long while, and I trust her completely.

I guess that makes us a good writer/agent match, eh? :)

Anonymous said...

An organized agent should provide the writer with a list of publishers the manuscript will be submitted to. How long can that possibly take? Five minutes? A writer who cares about his or her career would surely want to know this. Would I want my book submitted to some no-name publisher in Canada? No. If I didn't know where my book was going, that's like giving my money to a mutual fund manager who doesn't have a prospectus. I can choose to care or not, but the information should be available upfront. The agent is working for the writer, not doing a favor. For someone to say that the writer should "just write" is silly. If you want a career writing, you need to be aware of all aspects of the biz. Surely that's the reason for this blog. Let the agent do his/her job, yes, but part of that job is communicating with the writer on the status of the manuscript. That just seems like a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

Although my agent did not give me a list of all the places he planned to send -- he did give me a list of all the places he had sent, and I had the rejection letters.

It actually never occured to me that my agent might send my manuscript to a no-name publisher in Canada since well...the agent had a reputation for not being stupid or suicidal. He sent to publishers where he would make the most money...if the book didn't sell -- then *I* was welcome to deal with No-Name publisher if I chose but he wasn't interested in a book where he didn't make money.

I guess (for me) I figured that was the no-brainer since an agent isn't being paid by me personally, so why would he put effort into a no-name publisher that won't produce a decent monetary return on effort? Plus, he couldn't make a deal that I didn't agree to so even if he suddenly lost his mind and sent it to Publish America, I still had the power to keep my book from their diabolical clutches.

But, hey, different methods for different writers. I put my research into finding an agent with a good track record who I could trust to go after a good deal...and then I let him use the expertise he'd spent years building. I guess others do it differently -- which is pretty interesting but I still think my way is right (that's why it's my way).