Let's Kill Cats!

Dear Miss Snark, Two agents asked to see my book. I let both know that another agent was looking. One has asked to know the other's name. What's the rule here? Do I share the names? Many thanks, and wishing you a happy and interesting new year.

"May you live in interesting times" is an old Chinese curse, but I'll overlook that for now given I don't think that's how you meant it...did you?

There is no rule here.

I always want to know who's got their greedy no-good hands on work I want to take on. I have to restrain myself from hacking into the prospective author's email files or sending KY out on a surveillance mission. A small matter of restraining orders and maxed out credit at the bail bondsman on Broadway.

I'm curious cause if it's Barbara Bauer, Ph.D. we're gonna have a whole different kind of conversation than if it's Jenny Bent, or Rachel Vater.

Your real question is though: do you have to reveal that info and the answer is no. Technically it's none of the agent's beeswax. Since curiosity kills cats, we indulge in it frequently here (ok, ok, ....no defense of cat yowling please) but it's still just curiosity nothing more.


Anonymous said...

Another author in my writing group recently broke down in tears when she wrote the scene where a cat died. I had given her many exciting and amusing ways to off the wee beastie, but she insisted on being emotional.

Not that I have an affinity for dogs, mind you. The dog snuffing scenes are some of my favorites in A Fish Called Wanda.

Stacia said...

But how would you refuse to give that info without sounding like an ass?

"So who else is looking at it?"

"I don't have to divulge that information to you."

Seriously, do you pretend you don't remember or what? Because I know the polite answer is, "I'm sorry, I'm not comfortable discussing that"...but you don't want the agent to think you're difficult to work with. Is there a better reply to give an agent, or do we go by what Miss Manners would tell us?

(Yeah, I think I already know the answer.)

Blogless Troll said...

I once had a bumper sticker that read, "Ask me about microwaving cats for fun and profit." You wouldn't believe the number of weepy women who verbally accosted me at red lights. Like I was talking about their cat.

Anonymous said...

December Quinn, you bring up an excellent point! I was in this position last year when an agent expressed interest in my book (and knew others had requested the full). She asked me what other agents were saying about it! I was so surprised by the question, I just mumbled, "Um, they're mostly form rejections." Which was true.

(I ended up signing with the agent because she's an excellent one.)

Liz Wolfe said...

Is there any reason you wouldn't want to give the name of agent #1 to agent #2?

Anonymous said...

If you got into bed with George Clooney would you admit you'd been around the block? Or would you be sweet and innocent? Same goes for shopping a manuscript. Unless you have a written agreement, you don't owe anyone any information.

Anonymous said...

December Quinn--

Yes, artful extraction from the bluntly phrased question is tricky. For some reason, we're conditioned to reflexively answer
questions posed to us, even from complete strangers, and even those that should be strictly MYOB.

If I had the presence of mind to resist the reflexive response, I'd probably go for the non-response response (for an excellent tutorial on the art form, tune in to any Sunday Morning political interview show).

Anyway, something to the effect of a breezy, "Oh, she's curious to know who you are too," then seamlessly slipping into something unrelated.

Or, you could gently put the ball back in her court: "I'm glad you brought that up, because I've been meaning to ask you...Other agents have asked the same question, and I'm not familiar with protocol. How would you like me to handle it?"

Anonymous said...

How would you tell one agent you preferred to no divulge the name of the other agent? Just like that, "I prefer to not divulge that information." But in my case I'd share the info. No big deal. As far as animals, such an unfeeling, cavalier attitude about torturing or killing animals is very revealing of one's character. They're usually scum bags inside.
George Clooney has been around the block, so I wouldn't hesitate to tell him he was competing with Brad Pitt. I might blush, but I wouldn't hesitate : )

Anonymous said...

Put the dog down and back away from the cat slowly....

Anonymous said...

December Quinn, a while ago I heard of a great way to answer a question you don't want to answer. Say, "I'd be happy to answer your question, but I'm curious -- why do you want to know?" This puts the ball back in their court. If an agent is just being nosy, there's a good chance they'll back off. If they're concerned you may have fallen into the clutches of a scam artist, it gives them a chance to express concern for your welfare. Either way, it will tell you something about the agent.

Anonymous said...

There's a second line to the saying,

"Curiousity killed the cat"

that goes,

"Satisfaction brought him back".