3.29.2007

Nitwit of the fucking year

Dear Miss Snark, my non fiction is being represented by a lit agent.. I understand she is very busy but while I’m completing the manuscript for project 1, I sent her a query and proposal for my next project – an email that she has totally ignored. I have interpreted her silence as meaning she is not interested (it's been 3 months now with no word from her re project 2) So I have queried other agents and have fifteen asking to see my proposal. Is it considered very bad form to have one agent for one book, another agent for another book? Should I just wait and see if my agent for project 1 is truly disinterested in project 2? Or does this mean that my 2nd project should just die a slow death as I dont want to mess up my relationship with my agent...


too late.

If you were my client, I'd release you this minute. This is the absolute height of nitwittery and you've pretty much shot yourself in the foot six ways to Sunday.

Here's why: you have no idea if your agent even received your proposal. I can't count on both hands, boh feet and Killer Yapp's extra toes the number of times email has gone astray. Spam filters for one. Misstyping an address that doesn't get bounced back for two. General glitches for three.

I lost three months of email once. Mail I'd opened and left in my inbox to deal with later. When the hard drive walked out the door in the hands of a crack head, I lost ALL of that saved email. Ergo I was not able to respond, or even to tell people to resend cause I had no way of tracking it.

NEVER assume someone is ignoring you if they don't respond to email when you have an ongoing business relationship (ie this does not apply to queries). If your agent doesn't respond, you email AGAIN. If no answer then you CALL. If no reply THEN you terminate your relationship with her and query other agents.

At no point in this process are you querying anyone else. I've seen comments in the comment column disagreeing with this rule but they are wrong. This is one of the absolute surest ways for agents to refuse to deal with you NO MATTER HOW GOOD YOUR WRITING.

We don't want clients who are going to fuck us. There are more of you than there are of us. We can find the next you. You're going to have a much harder time finding a top flight agent if you casually mention, oh you're also represented by someone else for another book because NO you don't have two agents for two books at the same time unless they are very different kinds of books and the agents KNOW about it.


You didn't really do this, did you?
You're just yanking my chain?
No one is this nitwittish...are you?

14 comments:

SAND STORM said...

"We don't want clients who are going to fuck us"...unlike say Xavier Hollander...OK as you were!

The Anti-Wife said...

Sounds like someone needs to visit the Nitwit Lounge and see a demonstration of Miss Snark's special vegetable chopper.

Anonymous said...

My husband isn't even a writer and he wouldn't do anything this stupid. He laughed his ass off at your headline. Now he knows why I'm always quoting you.

Anonymous said...

Before your agent finds out through someone who knows someone, I would fess up in a second email 0- and then a call if needs be - about what you did, how it happened, and why you've realized it was a dumb mistake. After your agent reads this, you'll know everything you need to. Did s/he see the proposal in the first place, will s/he still represent you, and if so, will s/he represent this new project.

Unless, of course, there's more to the story than what you've shared, and you meant to say that you not only heard nothing back after one email, but after a succession of emails and even a call. This happened to me, but I emailed several times, then called several times, then found a new agent. If you seriously only sent one email, then Miss Snark was right about the nitwit of the year award. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

The reason your agent may have put your query aside is that you might not be contractually free to submit another book proposal. Many contracts stipulate that you have to turn in your current book and have it accepted before you're free to submit another book proposal.

Dave said...

Does the writer have any concept of a contract? That piece of paper with words printed on it he/she/it signed?

I'll bet he/she/it didn't read it!

angrylil said...

it's nice to know that whatever dumb-ass things i do between now and december 31, 2007, i sure as hell won't risk the title of "nitwit of the fucking year" being given to me on a silver platter.

Dan Leo said...

Somebody just got a new hole in their derrière.

Don said...

I'm still stuck on the submitting a proposal for book #2 when book #1 isn't finished yet. Once you've got book #1 finished, then you can have multiple projects in the pipeline, but until then, it seems like as agent, editor or concerned blog reader, I want to know that you can finish a book before I'm willing to deal with the prospect of your starting the next one.

On the other hand, it seems more acceptable to submit a query on book #3 while book #2 is being written, assuming that book #1 was done on time and with decent quality.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Um--how about finishing the first project and really making your name mean something w/your agent and publisher and publicity people? I know it's flattering that 15 people want to see your proposal but you are shooting yourself in the foot. Doesn't your current publisher have first right of refusal? You should work hard to make your first book a success and get in good w/all involved. That way, you will get a bigger advance for the 2nd. And you have to be loyal to your agent unless they have given you are reason not to be. Geez.

jnr said...

a quick courteous email with 'just touching base' as a subject header works wonders nineteen times out of twenty. assuming you're communicating with someone you already have a professional relationship with, that is.

i also suggest doublechecking and maybe resetting your internal clock before taking anything resembling a radical step. when they're in waiting-to-hear-back mode, writers' internal clocks tend to rack up imaginary time the way that funky clock on the old stove in your grandmother's kitchen does.

Julie Wright said...

If I would you, I'd call my agent groveling for forgiveness. Someone earlier said to send an email, but you have way more explaining to do than an email allows. Then I would finish the first book! No publisher wants a one title author. They want a brand. If you can't finish the first book, then you have no right to be wheeling and dealing on a second.

me-oh-my said...

How can this person, obviously lacking any common sense whatsoever, have acquired an agent without knowing ANY of the ropes?

As lovely as Nitwit's newly-ripped keister hole may be, you've got to grant a couple kudos for what must have been some damn fine writing.

Wow.
I need a nap.

Tammy said...

If you (Nitwit of the fucking year) do not even know if your agent has seen your query, why the hell don't you find out before making a complete ass out of yourself?