7.19.2006

Foot Shooting 101

I've been baying at the moon about how much I hate to hear from people "mid-query"--the time between "yes do send me that partial/full" and "let's dance/go home unhappy".

I'm reminded of those howls today cause I have three nudges in my mail box this morning and a Snarkling sent me a link to someone else who wants you to quit shooting yourself in the foot.


Being pushy is an art form and most people don't do it well. If you just can't stand to not know, ask specifically "when should I email you if I haven't heard from you". Do NOT just email cause you're "pro-active". That's not a persuasive tactic from where I sit.

Just a reminder: don't email me to tell me you're going on vacation. After the temperature hit 98 yesterday in Central Park, it's tantamount to a neener-neener call. Don't email me to tell me someone else is looking at this unless I asked for an exclusive; I assume I'm not your one and only...yet; Don't email me to tell me you've got another eager blurber on the line; I don't care. Don't email unless you've gotten an offer of representation, you've signed with someone else, or very very seriously reworked the pages I'll soon be reading.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is it acceptable to email an agent and make sure they actually received your work after about six weeks? Just checking up but not actually asking if they've read it?

BuffySquirrel said...

It's always been my understanding that if you push hard enough for a response, you'll get one--but it'll be "no". Interesting to see that this is not just a myth...

Dwight The Troubled Teen said...

Call it cynical optimism, but every day in which I don't hear back on a submitted partial (I've never been asked for a full) is another day where possibility reigns supreme. I query six agents at a time. Invariably one or two form rejections bounce back almost immediately. I can time the to/from my mailbox/NYC mail cycle at exactly nine days using these same-day rejections The rest of my queries? “Hmmm. Maybe someone is actually reading and considering them. Wow, that’s a good thing.”

It’s healthy to keep a little wind in your sails for a while. Soon enough you’ll have to confront the “Here there be Dragons” downside of submission. Enjoy the heady pollen of possibility while it’s still fragrant.

Obsessing over the last novel is an excuse not to work on the next novel. Stop yer snipin’ and start yer typin’.

Brenda Bradshaw said...

So, speaking of vacations, are you going to be out of town soon? Like... maybe in Atlanta for RWA National Conference? (grin)

Maria said...

Part of the problem may be that in every other industry I've worked in--checking up, following up, staying on top things--is admired and required. Book publishing is different and it takes a while to understand that and learn to work within the lines.

Manic Mom said...

Every day when I open the mailbox and DO NOT see my handwritten SASE in the pile, I smile a happy little smile. I feel like I'm a Survivor castmate and just made it through another Tribal Council.

IMMUNITY!

I.J.Parker said...

Umm, are we talking exclusive here? Bothering the agent before the time has run out is rude. If there was a time span agreed on and the agent fails to respond when the time is up, you may either ask the agent what gives or pursue your luck elsewhere. If there was no exclusive, you have no business waiting around or demanding progress reports. Get your queries in the mail.

Elektra said...

Anony 1:

http://misssnark.blogspot.com/2005/09/follow-up-on-submissions-timing.html

word veri: wzwgbdm A Scrabble player's dream word

Anonymous said...

I was born without the patience gene. If they ever offer it in Gene therapy, I'll be first in line. Whatever I do acquire I save for my children which usually means I have none left for waiting to hear back from publishers (we tend to go straight to the publisher in NZ).

I loathe the feeling of powerlessness I have over the process once my writing is posted off to the publisher. So while I appreciate that it takes time to read the MS and make a decision, please spare a thought all you agents and publishers for the person on the other side of the equation who has already sweated blood and tears to produce the MS who is trying really, really, really hard not to email but sometimes slips up.

By the way is there any other career that makes a person wait more than two months (usually considerably longer) for feedback on their work? Yes, I know if I want to be a writer I have to suck it up but it sucks that I have to!

Minty Fresh

Ps - sorry about the whining, a good whine often makes me feel better

Paranoid Gun Owner said...

I used to shoot myself in the foot all the time, but my aim was so bad, I kept shooting the agent beside me instead. ;) (NOTE: if anyone from the NSA is reading this, I am NOT making a death threat, it's just bad humor).

Paranoid? Who? Me?

Chumplet said...

I dunno, I still get that nagging feeling it never got there.

Anonymous said...

Okay, clueless noob here... But the link posted in this blog made it seem like upwards of ten weeks (or longer, had it been up to the agent) before an agent even peeks at a work is to be expected. What is a reasonable time frame? And did that agent expect the work to ferment or otherwise improve as it sat idle in the dark? His rationalization was weak at best.

NSA today said...

There are snarklings at NSA. Everyone wants to write a book here. We love Ms Snark & respect her privacy.

Anonymous said...

"The problem isn't that we shot ourselves in the foot, the problem is the speed with which we reloaded and fired again."

- a tech geek on software project management--another industry where it takes between one and twelve months before you know whether the business risk of the investment (writing the code = writing the MS) will be matched by the stakeholders with $ risk of their own (customer forking over $ for the software = publisher forking over their own $, which they usually lose, on the MS).

-kd

Anonymous said...

Chumplet:
If you're worried about something having reached its destination, you can use a trackable shipping method, pay the nominal fee for a return receipt, or include a SASe or SAS-postcard on the interior of the package. These easy steps might go far in lessening your worries.

And you are not alone in feeling like the postal fates' daily goal is to mess with you!

AstonWest said...

Maybe I should be glad my e-queries always seem to get the immediate 'no' response...don't have to worry about nudging.