Be Cool

Dear Miss Snark,

The Snarkives (hat tip to Miss Adventure!) reveal a three-month timeline for full ms submissions with a follow-up email. I sent a snail (with SASE) status query ten days ago on such a ms and as the silence stretches one day into another, am beginning to wonder if I should even want this agent to offer representation.

Can agents be enthusiastic about projects they left sitting for months? Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever offered representation on a project that required a status query before you read it? And if so, did you act quickly or stop to swill gin and ruminate a good long time beforehand?

I can't help thinking if the agent cared, I'd get at least an email letting me know the agent was still alive and taking nourishment.

Thanks much for all you do.

When you send me a project it's like when you look through a telescope, then turn it around and look through lenses from the other side.
From your side, it focuses on the ONE thing you're looking at, your manuscript, and it fills up the screen so it's all you see.

My side of the telescope is the reverse view: there are lots of manuscripts to be seen, and they are small specks, and all of them are on my desk and I think they reproduce at night.

Your query is your only baby. When it sits on my desk it's one of many. I've said before, and I'll say again, that responding to status queries is part of our job and it's a complete breach of etiquette to intentionally not do so.

However, as they say, fecal matter falls from the firmament, and some days it's a damn deluge.

I have indeed had projects that I'm enthusiastic about that I've let sit. This happens when my day to day stuff is overwhelming. Sometimes that day to day stuff goes on for a while and when that happens the LAST thing I want to do is try to read your manuscript.

I don't know if I've offered representation to people who've had to nudge me cause I don't keep track of that.

Whatever you do, hold on to your cool, don't assume the agent is an idiot, doesn't care, or is saying no via silence. You don't know what's going on with an agent and like you, we have lives, and sometimes they fall apart.


Anonymous said...

I can understand where the question comes from. I sent out a requested partial in late 2004 that got lost in the shuffle for over a year and even I forgot about. The agency has now had my full manuscript for almost four months. They've been very apologetic for the delays, but it can still be frustrating, especially when I've heard from message boards that, in the time they've had my full, they've signed at least one other author in less than a month from the time of their first query.

It's all about patience. There's nothing you can do about it anyway, and like the Divine Miss S said, there's no knowing what kind of misfortune has befallen the agent while we wait for an answer.

Anatidaeling said...

"fecal matter falls from the firmament"

This lovely alliteration made me laugh!

(Is the patent pending on this precious piece of prose? Please proceed, or the phrase will be promptly purloined.)

Anonymous said...

An agent requested a full from me in the summer of 2004, then re-requested it in January 2005 because she'd lost it.

At that point I wrote her off in my head.

But you guessed it, she re-emailed me in June 2005 and asked if she'd ever requested my full manuscript because she liked the partial. I re-sent it just because the situation at that point had become rather funny, fully expecting to get no response. And that is what I've received.

If she emailed me today offering to be my agent, I'm pretty sure I'd respond to her sometime in 2007, just to keep things professional as she seems to define it. :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Miss Snark, for answering my question and easing my angst! I'm chillin' out, baby.............

The Rejected Writer said...

Miss S, your words here are kind and gentle. I do hope you're okay.

Anonymous said...

The telescope analogy is cool.

magz said...

kinda ties in with the SmartSnark concerning Exclusives and the Art of MultiQuerying.

Pondering An Agent's Life; perhaps this particular agent is enjoying a well earned vacation somewhere warm and tropical while being alertly attending by a Personal Cabana Boy (bearing a striking resemblence to George Clooney)

Tori Scott said...

From watching the new agent/new sales posts on the romance lists, it seems like most people sell/get their agent within a few days or weeks of their manuscript hitting the agent's/editor's desk. I'm guessing those sales/signings happen so quickly because the agent/editor is sucked quickly into the story and can't get out until they hit the end, at which point they pick up the phone and make that all-important phone call.

The others go in the "later" pile. They're pretty good, but don't grab and hold quite as tightly. Later might mean yes--when just the perfect slot or line opens up--or maybe, if they have nothing better lined up. But it can languish in the maybe pile forever until finally that agent/editor gets tired of seeing all those status requests and just says no.

Then there are those that get an immediate no and a please-don't- send-me-anything-else-ever-again response.

Am I close?

Anonymous said...

I just signed on with an agent who had my partial sitting on her desk for quite some time. So yeah, not getting to it for a while doesn't always mean lack of enthusiasm once gotten to. :-)

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the question and answer. I'm getting ready to send one of those letters asking what's the status of my query and was wondering if it was worth the effort. Okay, so now I'll do it. And keep looking for MY agent.