Resistance is NOT Futile

Hello, Miss Snark!

How art thou? (peachy, thanks for asking)

I am currently seeking a new agent, and several agents are reading partials and fulls. I just found out that I am a finalist in a national short story contest (sponsored by a pretty distinguished literary journal).

Would the agents who have my manuscript be interested in hearing about this? If so, should I email them with the update? If not, is this information I should include in future queries?

Thank you, as always, for your advice!


Resist the temptation to email anyone considering your work about anything other than:

you are now dead, and God has an exclusive on your novel;

you have signed with another agent (neener neener is optional);

you are considering signing with another agent today/tomorrow/this week and just wanted to touch base with your Heart's Desire before signing with your second choice;

you have seriously reworked the partial or full and if they want it, you'll be glad to send the new and improved version.

You'll notice what this list doesn't have on it: vacations. Contest finalists. Cosmetic revisions. A new page 19. Underlining instead of italics. Excited comments from one of your beta readers.

I have received ALL of those emails and my first reaction is a very very nasty version of "so what" but I do not email that in return. I say thanks and I remember that you are quick on the send button and as we all know by now, that is not a plus in my book.

I don't want to hear from you until I've read your stuff.

Including the info in future query letters is ok, and a smart idea if you win, place or show.


Anonymous said...

So would only being a finalist be worth mentioning? Or is that akin to saying, "I just got a personal rejection letter from Magazine I Am SO Sure You'll Be Impressed By"?

long time reader, first time (public) nitwit

Kristen Painter said...

Actually, I emailed my agent about some contest finals while she was still considering me and the news was well received. I think it depends on the individual agent.

Anonymous said...

I won a national contest (sponsored by top dog publishers) but was my agent-to-be interested? Nary a word back. Now, I feel foolish emailing her. Heed the wise one's advice.

Anonymous said...

Where does e-mailing assistants with questions fall on the list of faux pas? I received an e-mail from an agent's assistant telling me the agent was "interested" in my manuscript, but still needed to get some input from others in her agency. She then invited me drop her a line with any questions. So I asked her (in a tactful way) what "interested" meant. By doing this, have I branded myself as someone who is too quick to hit send? Could it hurt my chances of being repped by this agent?

Darlene C. said...

I don't think finaling in a contest is akin to being rejected. (I'd love some of that rejection!) I think overplaying the magazine's interest could be foolish, but finaling is the equivalent of "they liked me, they really really liked me!"

Typing Slave said...

What if it's at that magical 3-month mark when you're going to be checking up on the manuscript's status, anyway? Would you mention contest type stuff when you're doing that?

Eileen said...

Imagine that you've sent your resume to an employer. Would you call them and say "Just wanted to let you know I was a voted employee of the month"? No.(at least I hope not) If they've asked for a partial or full they are interested- they are using their valuable and unpaid time to explore further. Good luck.

Bibliophile Bitch said...

Personally, I think contacting an agent AT ALL during the wait period is unwise. (Exception being when signing with someone else).
Waiting for that ever-loving fucking rejection is difficult but it's part of the "fun" of being a writer.
Say Miss Snark, doesn't a prospective agent check out that author's blog? Couldn't you just crow a little on a blog (or forum) and get the info out there?

Sarah Addison Allen said...

Dear Bloomingdales Credit Card Application Processors:

I sent in an application for one of your fine credit cards a week ago. However, I just received a letter from Publisher's Clearing House. I may already be a winner. I hope this speaks favorably toward obtaining a line of credit, as I could soon be rich.

Aspiring Shopper

Edgy Mama said...

I'm so embarrassed.

Yasmine Galenorn said...

Another reason to contact an agent/editor before hearing from them: You've moved. Include a spanking new SASE and a brief letter stating the name of your manuscript and your new address and phone (and email) address.

the green ray said...

What if it's the agent's birthday, and he's had the ms for close to four months? I knew it was his birthday from Jeff Herman's Writers Guide; and yes, I couldn't resist clicking on Send. No mention of my work - just Happy Birthday. It's been a week and I haven't heard from him yet. Oi Vey.