More on "expiration dates" in queries

Dear Miss Snark,

Your advice has kept me going (i.e., writing) during a particularly difficult time. Thanks for being there. (
thank you, that's very kind)

On my first (rather timid) attempt at querying, I emailed three excellent agents and got two immediate requests for partials of my novel. One agent even asked for the full ms. While both agents eventually passed, they each provided excellent comments and advice about my work which I took seriously. i decided to resume the querying process only after a rewrite.

Round two: I did a lot of research and one day (almost five months ago now) I prepared individualized query packets for twelve or more agents. I also emailed a few additional agents who accept e-queries. I was thrilled to get an immediate emailed response from an agent I greatly admire. He asked for 50 pages.

Later that same day I got word that my
83-year-old mother was seriously ill and I left town to be with her. The months that followed have included not only many trips to the hospital, but the storing of eveything I own so that I could move across country and spend more time caring for my mom.

Things have finally settled into a routine and I am ready to try again.
I'm not worried about the packets that were never sent by mail. I'm redoing those with new dates, etc. (And yes, they each include an SASE.) I am, however, wondering about the protocol of reconnecting with the esteemable Agent A, who requested 50 pages and never got them.

By sheer coincidence, I recently met an (as yet unpublished) client of Agent A who sang the man's praises and told me to use his name.

But here's the rub:

Do I:

a) contact Agent A again and apologize for the lateness in getting the partial to him,
b) explain the reasons (and if so, how?),
c) use his client's name,
d) assume Agent A has moved on to other things by now and just forget the idea of ever working with him?

I don't want to be a nitwit - so I hope you'll provide your usual good advice.
Thank you.

a. yes
b. yes
c. yes
d. NO

First, despite all evidence to the contrary, agents have mothers too. Some of us even like ours. And I'll tell you this: if I heard you'd focused on getting your partial out instead of caring for your elderly mother I'd personally arrive at your door and give you a piece of my mind.

Of course you did the right thing. You know that. I know that. Agent A will know that.

You simply say "the illness of my 83 year old mother has taken my attention for some months. I am writing to follow up on the email you sent asking for my first fifty pages. Would you still like to see them?".

You are not a nitwit. You're not even close. Give my best regards to your mom too.


Elektra said...

Goodness--I want to see her query!

Bernita said...

Yet another example why we wuvs Miss Snark.

Pretty Lady said...

My darling, I have just discovered your delightful blog via http://www.toobeautiful.org/blog/blogger.html
and I am simply enchanted. I wish to thank you for your generosity in providing such wise advice free of charge, commend your wit and style, and assure you that when you publish a book of your own, I will be first in line to purchase it.

Remodeling Repartee said...

To the author of this post, I want to say that an agent requested my full manuscript at a conference in 2004, when I pitched him in a one-on-one. I decided it was nowhere near ready to send, after what I learned there. His assistant e-mailed me a few months later and said they were still looking forward to the work, when I was ready to send it out.

Well--over a year later, the book's finally ready. I e-mailed and asked if, after over a year, they would still like to read the work. They do. I'm sending it tomorrow.

Do as Miss Snark says, recontact the agent. Be honest. You sound like a great person with a great project. Good luck.