Dear Miss Snark,

I've just received a request for a partial from an agent who also wants to know whether any publishers have already seen the ms.

This is where my previous nitwittery comes back to haunt me. I have a friend whose very close relative is a big shot editor at a big name imprint. Said friend got me a read which resulted in a very complimentary response but--as will come as no surprise to you or your readers--a rejection. When I engaged in this unfortunate attempt to get my ms read without the benefit of an agent I was new and green to the process. I had, for instance, never even HEARD of Miss Snark. I had not yet even sent out my first query letter.

I'm wondering if there's any way to frame this nitwittery in as a learning experience that, while regrettable, I would certainly never repeat. Is there even a chance said agent won't look at this and automatically reach for the form reject?

You're safe. I ask this question on partials too. What I want to know is if this has been shopped around town or if it's a revised version of something that's been shopped. Basically we're sniffing the manuscript for freshness like a Sicilian cook at the vegetable market.

Tell her what you told me: a friend gave it to a friend at a publisher informally. Nothing came of it.


Alphabet said...

Does the questioner even need to mention it? In the worst case scenario, her agent will send it to the same editor, who will smile if he or she remembers it at all - no harm done. If the questioner mentions it, there is a risk that the agent will worry what else she needs to find out.

Surely the bottom line is that this manuscript has not been sent out by an agent to editors, who have rejected it?

Zany Mom said...

I'm guilty of this too; a former coworker was friends with somebody in a good position in a major house. She said if I wrote an article for her on a work-related topic, she'd take my MS to this person. I didn't hear anything for a while, and followed up. Apparently my MS was not what this person usually read (I think the person handled non-fiction) but she said she'd read it and pass it on to someone who handled that genre. It's been 10 months and no answer, so I either assume it's been forgotten, pushed aside, or is sitting in some intern's slush pile. I have no idea if anyone read it or not.

If asked, I'll be truthful. In reality I don't think my MS really went anywhere or was read by anyone in position to acquire it.

shhhh said...

I don't quite understand the fawning servility. Why was the attempt unfortunate? Or regrettable. You got your manuscript read by an editor, and received a complimentary response. Of course you didn't follow the secret maze that all must follow to be published, and you obviously didn't know the secret words to put in your manuscript, that only an agent could have told you. Thank goodness you didn't meet said editor, because you surely don't know the secret handshake only agents can impart. Oh, oh,sarcasm, right?