3.20.2007

Miss Snark's nose twitches

Dear Miss Snark,

I'm writing because my agent has been shopping my novel MS for a year to 15 editors, and NONE have responded. What's going on?

My agent has been in the business for 20+ years at a reputable firm with a handful of well-known clients. He shopped my book (debut literary fiction) to 7 editors last February, and then sent it to 8 more in November, and NO ONE has responded. Recently, he started taking 10 of the 15 editors to lunch, he says, to hand-sell the book. Still no responses.

He claims it's the business. I can't help but wonder whether it's something else. He's a nice guy, and I certainly don't want to get rid of a good agent, but how can I tell what's going on here?



This is horseshit.

There's not one single chance in the world that an editor, sitting at lunch, pitched a book, will give NO response. It may not be the one you want (wild laughter, gasping, calling for the defibrillator); it may not be polite (have you taken leave of your senses); it may not be verbal (editor faints dead away and requires oxygen) but there will be a response.

I've been sitting across the lunch table from editors for quite some time now, and one thing is for sure: they're not mute.

I'm not sure what's going on with your agent but I absolutely guarantee you that "no response" from 15 editors defies the laws of physics, at least here on planet earth.

And agents don't take editors to lunch. I can count on one claw the times I've picked up the check or issued an invite. Editors ask us to lunch and pick up the tab.

16 comments:

Ryan Field said...

This is too good. While I was reading it I put the diet coke to the far left just to prepare myself for the first line of the response. I knew it was coming.

machineAnimal said...

complete horseshit!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Methinks that this agent is shrouded in a cloud of really bad gas.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark is quite right about who picks up the tab, the editor. As my agent told me, "That's to soften the blow of rejection, at least I get a free lunch out the deal."

Anonymous said...

Hey, you all are missing the point. This author has a real problem, here.

Author, I'd recommend doing a couple of things, and Miss Snark, please let us know if I'm off base.

Ask your agent if he means he has received no response whatsoever or no *positive* response. He may be trying to shield you from negative rejections. (You've probably already done this.)

Also, contact other clients of your agent, those who have book deals, and ask about your agent's ways. Maybe they can shed some light on this odd behavior.

Miss Snark, is it possible this agent is losing it? Claiming to have received no response whatsoever from editors sounds...nuts.

Author, if I were you, I'd be polishing up my querying skills. You may need to jump to another agent.

Anonymous said...

Question which I am having a hard time being answered: What IS a typical response time for publishers for a book on submission? It has been two months and my agent said she has received positive vibes but no offer. Any input from you guys? I'm starting to go crazy. Thanks!

angrylil'asiangirl said...

ssssssucka!

the agent sounds like a lame liar.

Maprilynne said...

Miss Snark said: "And agents don't take editors to lunch. I can count on one claw the times I've picked up the check or issued an invite. Editors ask us to lunch and pick up the tab."


Really? I would love it if you would explain this process a little more in a post sometime. I was totally under the impression that the agents took the editors to lunch. Basically that they would call up the editor and say, "Hey, we should do lucnh." Then they go out to lunch and the agent pitches a book they are particularly excited about, etc.

Why would the editor take you to lunch? It seems like it would be the agent's playing field.

I think that is very interesting.

Maprilynne

Ryan Field said...

Anon # 3 said: Hey, you all are missing the point. This author has a real problem, here.


This person does have a real problem, and I didn't miss the point at all. This really is horseshit and the writer needs to confront this agent and get some answers. We only have a broad view of the entire situation, but if we base our advice on the facts given the agent is leaving out some crucial facts because I've never known an editor who didn't want to give a reply. Even if you work with them for years and they "love" you to death, they don't hesitate to tell you when they aren't interested...with solid reasons why.

Anonymous said...

When you discussed representation, did your agent tell you he would send copies of rejections? Some agents do, some don't. But I would ask if he has letters you could have copies of so you can see what they dislike about your work. (Most are generic turndowns, but still it would be nice to see where it's been.)

Anonymous said...

Also, in addition to the real possibilities that "anonymous" listed above, one thing to consider is that the agent is going through personal difficulties and is lying to cover for them.

I've known people who were going through a bout of clinical depression, for example, and lied about doing work that never got done. It's possible that the agent hasn't actually been sending the MS out or meeting with these agents.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the responses. Lordy.

The agent says that the editors are having it read "in-house," although he's been telling me that since September.

It hasn't been rejected; I ask for updates every month or two and have pointed confirmed with him that there has been no response whatsoever.

I've been in touch with one of his other clients, who had his first novel sold to a small press; the MS went out to about a dozen (I think?) places, one at a time, and sold after about a year.

--Author

Laura Florand said...

Why one at a time?

Anonymous said...

"I've been in touch with one of his other clients, who had his first novel sold to a small press; the MS went out to about a dozen (I think?) places, one at a time, and sold after about a year."

One at a time? Sending out submissions is not a case of serial monogamy. An agent can't hold an auction if there aren't multiple editors bidding for the project and there's certainly no motivation for an editor to offer a pre-empt if there are no other competitors for the work.

Granted, there are some houses that don't want simultaneous submissions (even from an agent), but that's because they don't want to get into a bidding war or offer a higher than usual advance -- both of which are GOOD for the AUTHOR.

It seems you have more than one thing to be concerned about here.

Anonymous said...

Author: You said your agent has another client whose MS went out to editors, one at a time?? That seems horrifyingly slow to me.

My agent has my novel out to 10 editors right now. She has a list of, oh, 30, that she has shared with me. Every time a rejection comes in, she calls another one on the list.

Miss Snark: How many editors do you query at once? What's the industry norm?

Do you agree that this author might want to jump ship at this point?

Anonymous said...

The editor takes the agent to lunch because believe it or not, it's the agent that has control here....the editor doesn't want to miss out on a great product. Also, but getting to know each other, the agent will think of that editor when he/she gets a manuscript that for instance is a cozy mystery about knitting, and that editor mentioned she'd love to find a cozy mystery about knitting. That kind of thing happens all the time.

:)