Thursday, July 23, 2009

"Hey J, are you dead or what (and I'm hoping for dead at this point)"

An ominous snapping sound wakes me around the crack of noon these days. It is the slinking ever-closer slavering jaws of some very very unhappy people; people waiting for an email answer; people with full manuscripts here for an appalling long time. They're starting to look feral in their desire to chew my hind end off. They'd prefer an answer but at this point, they'll settle for a piece of me just to get my attention.

Truthfully, I'd like nothing better than to not wake with the sound of clicking jaws in my ear, and god knows I'm trying but here's what's happening:

I'm selling stuff.

It's a serious problem this selling stuff. It really interferes with the To Do list.

You get a call on Tuesday with an offer and there's goes the day; shot to hell in handbasket by the time you call the author, call the subsidiary rights director ("what the hell is open market again, please" and "do we really need audio?"), call the editor, negotiate back and forth, pause briefly to screech for joy, next thing you know, there goes the day.

Do that enough, and there goes the week.

It's a nice problem to have if you're the agent and the author.

It's a real bitch if you're the one whose book hasn't sold yet, whose manuscript didn't get read, whose email is languishing.

And it's amazing what one small problem, like the printer giving up the ghost, can do for a well planned thoughtful schedule.

One of the hardest things I've had to learn, well actually that I'm STILL learning, is to not plan more than a couple things a day. Do that, and you never EVER catch up cause those unscheduled things, like a sale!, will push the lowest priority items to tomorrow, or next week.

So, if you're waiting to hear from me, know this: I am trying. I'm trying so hard I've now promised to shave my head and become a Buddhist monk if I don't answer all my emails by the end of this coming weekend.

I've heard from several volunteers who have already sharpened their sheers. shears. Oops.


Mags said...

Yay, you!

Laurel said...


I have been where you are. Many times. It sucks. The inbox you spend all day on grows by twenty emails at every six hour interval. All you can do is keep slogging away. And turn to caffeine or alcohol in moments of desperation.

I would send you a nice, cheery, supportive email instead of a comment except it would just make things worse.

At least you're busy. It's marginally better to have too much to do than not enough. My sympathies to you and everyone who's waiting to hear from you! Have a coffee. Or an Irish coffee...the best of both worlds.


Redleg said...

Non illegitimati carborundum, Janet.

Josin L. McQuein said...

I don't think too many sharks make it as monks. Better to stick to agenting where you don't have to feel bad when you chomp.

DebraLSchubert said...

Please, Janet, no! Not the shaved head! We, your loyal followers and writers waiting for your reply to the queries, partials, and fulls we've slaved away at for days, months, even years, will wait. I swear, we'll wait! After all, your reply is merely one that could potentially change our lives and the lives of our loved ones for generations to come. It's no big deal, really. I mean, we've waited this long... I'm sure we can all agree that your hair is far more valuable than our measly words could ever hope to be. For God's sake, Janet - SAVE YOUR HAIR!!!

Congrats on the sales, btw!;-)

Liana Brooks said...

*takes razor away from Janet*

Repeat after me: I am doing the best I can. My authors like knowing I sell books. The authors that want to work with me love knowing I sell books. All will be well.

Yes, those waiting are impatient and anxious, but that's part of the business and they will learn to cope.

Stephanie said...

Yes, I agree...great problem if you're the agent and author!!! While days like that can be stressful...I kinda get a thrill out of a day that is so jam packed like that....I feel good when I've accomplished a lot in a day...even if there is still a pile of work.

T. Anne said...

Wow I'd love to have your problems. Does your awesomness never cease?

Novice Writer Anonymous said...

That's probably the best problem an agent or author could hope to have. Good luck with getting through all your To Do List items, but please don't shave your head. And wear earplugs to bed so you don't hear those clacking jaws in the morning anymore.

Novice Writer Anonymous

Stephanie Faris said...

Congrats on all of your recent successes. I think most authors understand when it takes a while. I know I do. I just got a request on a query I sent in October of last year and I happily sent it along. I wasn't waiting from October until now to hear back from that one agent -- I had other things out -- so this was a nice little surprise. On the work front, though, I can completely relate. I have so many days where I think I'm going to get a long list of things done and time gets away from me.

Colorado Writer said...

Deep cleansing breaths.
Let them wait!

kyler said...

Thanks for the late laughs, Janet. Now that I know you're a good Catholic girl and no longer Satan's agent, I can't decide if I'm sad or relieved that I'm no longer waiting to hear from you. Mostly sad, I guess, but at least I now understand what takes the others so long. I take Nathan's phrase literally: "Know hope." I do know it well.

Mira said...

Janet, don't kill me for saying this, but you really are a sweetie underneath. People will wait.

You gotta pace yourself and take care of yourself.

Congratulations if you're making deals - that's fantastic.

Btw, if you want assistance with queries, I'll lend a hand. Just forward them my way. No charge. Glad to help.

Oh, and appropo of absolutely nothing, in case anyone recently sent a query to Janet, I want to mention that I like fine chocolates, theatre tickets and sapphires. The last preferrably encased in gold. E-mail me for details. I have a list.

S.D. said...

Do the nuns have to have their heads? (LOL)

You can do it. Just keep those sheers sharpened.

A. Grey said...

I can only hope that when I eventually secure an agent, they work as hard as you do!

Patience-please said...


dylan said...

Dear Ms. Reid,

In my checkered career I was once a mate on a party boat. When a customer had a fish hooked, the mate stood by waiting to net it the instant it appeared. It was the most important skill a mate needed - to secure the catch.

The rest of the job involved cutting bait, baiting hooks, untangling reel snarls, removing hooks from ears and sleeves, fetching drinks, generally attending to the needs of the customers competing for one's attention.

But when someone had a fish hooked, and the mate was standing-by with the long net, everybody else knew that the mate was temporarily unavailable for anything else. At all.

And they wanted the same consideration given when they got an editor - I mean a fish - on their line.


s.w. vaughn said...

Isn't it funny how the crack of noon comes so danged EARLY in the summer?

I'd offer to shave my head with you in solidarity, but I have a Samson complex...

Karen K. Kennedy said...

Picture hand rising in the air, butt bouncing up off the seat. Pick me to be the next sale, pick me!


laughingwolf said...

so many potential books, so little time...

SundaySoup said...

Dear Buddhist-Wannabe,
Thank you for your interest in becoming a Buddhist, but after careful consideration, we don't really think you're right for our list. Due to the number of stressed agents looking for refuge in our monasteries, we regret that we are unable to respond personally. Good luck in the future.

Joelle Anthony

P.S. It probably is not helping that I just posted about you here: telling everyone how much you love queries.

BookEnds, LLC said...

This is why I laugh when people ask me what my typical day is like. Typical day! ha!



Heidi Yantzi said...

It's been said that if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.

Just doesn't seem fair, does it??

Nobody likes to wait, but knowing WHY there's a wait is pretty hopeful. Keep up the awesomeness!

BJ said...

Congrats, Janet! Someday, I hope to have an agent as busy as you!

Janet Glaser said...

What a wonderful crazy life you have. Take time to breathe and enjoy some summer fun too.

Janet said...

And this is why I am totally unsuited to be an agent. And I'm so glad that some people are.

Go you!

David Edgerley Gates said...

"Oh, cursed be the man who hangs on princes' favors."

You go, girl.

Dan Krause said...

Good news. If you decide to embrace your inner Buddhist, there actually are "monk sharks." They are more commonly known as Angel Sharks. Which is what you are to all of us.

All right, Enough with the saccharine.

This attempt at bare-faced flattery brought to you by: Me, and the letter Q...uery.

Hang in there, Janet. You'll catch up.

Ricky Bush said...

Just pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, and he'll help you find your mind when you lose it. Trust me, he works miracles. Anyway--

Anonymous said...

Heavy is the crown, Janet Reid.

BuffySquirrel said...

Shears, damnit.

Sometimes I'm afraid I'm the last person alive who can spell ;).