9.26.2005

Turnaround time


Say a writer sends a great query to an agent who represents the kind of book said writer is composing. Let us further say that the agent responds quickly to the emailed query, requesting to see the full book proposal and asking if it is an exclusive submission. Further, the writer sends the full proposal as an exclusive, giving the agent a month to respond. Writer, not being the overly optimistic but yet hopeful sort, includes a SASE.

The questions: At what point would the agent respond? Before the exclusive time is up?
Or never if they are not interested, and if this is the case would they use the SASE and return the pages or just dump them in File 13?


First, you don't compose a book, you write it. You compose music. You can even compose yourself. You can compost your manuscript after you write it but that's it.

Now, the actual question. Answer is: I don't know. I know how I run my biz, but other agencies may not adhere to the Snarkolicious Rules of Response to Query Letters.

If I read something exclusively I try to get it back in a week. Two at most. From what you said though, the agent didn’t ASK for exclusivity, s/he asked if anyone else was reading it. There’s an important difference. I always ask if someone else is reading a project, but I never ask for exclusives cause it’s darn hard to turn them around that fast.

Assuming agents are human...err what I mean to say is assume agents act like humans..no wait, what I’m trying to say is assume agents behave normally...oh this is just getting worse by the minute.

New paragraph.
Agents put off doing things till the last minute like everyone else. WRITE (or email) to touch base when the month is up.

An agent you'd want to work with responds to your queries if you send things when asked. This crapola about "we'll get back to you if we're interested" is something that leaked into publishing from TV and radio. It's a patronizing way to treat people particularly if they're taking e-queries.

I would say write twice more; once when the month is up if you haven't heard. Once again if you haven't heard for another two weeks. Then cross them off your list and count yourself lucky.

Agenting is not rocket science. It's about being organized and responsive. If an agent can't keep it together enough to answer query letters, or worse, respond to material they've asked for, it doesn't bode well for their time management skills. Now, mind you I'm not saying they need to have READ the material, just responded to your follow up.

I frequently get behind on submission stacks, despite my best intentions cause stuff pops up. What I do NOT get behind on is answering emails or letter from people asking if I've read their stuff. That gets same day turnaround. If I can't read your work in a timely fashion (and lots of us can't...sorry but it's true) the LEAST we can do is respond to your inquiries and keep you informed.

10 comments:

Francoise said...

You can't compose a book? Yes you can, just like a melody from the mind.

Existential Man said...

According to my online dictionary ("Wordweb"), Francoise is correct, even if writing a book is not typically referred to in this manner:

Verb: Compose
1. Form the substance of
"Greed and ambition composed his personality"

2.Write music
"Beethoven composed nine symphonies"

3.Produce a literary work
"She composed a poem"


4.Put together out of existing material

5.Calm (someone, especially oneself); make quiet
"She had to compose herself before she could reply to this terrible insult"

6. Draw up the plans or basic details for

Miss Snark said...

3. You'll notice they don't say "composed a book".
The blog is called SNARK for a reason.
It was a snarky comment I made.

Existential Man said...

I'm sorry but my dictionary does include any definitions for "snark" "snarky," "snarkorama," "snarkoholic," or "snarkolicious."

Desperate Writer said...

Good grief, someone is apparently trying to out-snark Miss Snark. Don't waste your breath--uh, fingertips. She's the champ!

As for "composing a literary work," a poem is close to lyrics of a song, and often, poems are turned into hymns or songs, so Miss Snark's comment is perfectly valid, not that she needs my help.

occasional_anonymous said...

I'm composing my response and it will be with you shortly.

occasional_anonymous said...

At present I find myself insufficiently composed to compose. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Existential Man said...

What you're trying to say is that you're presently decomposing and that funeral services will be held as soon as possible? We do hope those in attendence will manage to remain composed.

Stacy said...

Anyone who thinks the phrase 'compose a book' is worth fighting for should be . . . well, spanked, at least.

Miss Snark said...

I'm non 'compose' mentis at the thought