Saturday, August 02, 2014

Question: oops, wrong version of full, what now?

I sent out my queries a couple days ago and I was asked for a full manuscript from one of the agents pretty quickly. I was kind of in shock that someone asked so fast, so I just opened my email and sent it over without a second thought. A little later I realized I sent him an older version of the manuscript. It's the full thing, but it had a bunch of obvious typos and some minor formatting issues (chapter numbers weren't reassigned after I deleted one). Should I even bother following up or just chalk it up as a missed opportunity?

Tsk tsk tsk. (Like I haven't done this before, oh yes indeed I have)

This is why I have a folder for EACH client manuscript that says "old versions" and the old version of the manuscript goes to live there when the new one comes in. (Don't throw away your old versions!) That way, no matter what the title, date, datestamp when I reach into my files to attach, I know I get the most current version cause I DON'T reach into "old versions."

Yea, well, I didn't learn that the first day on the job. Or even the first year.

Stuff happens.

I see this ALL the time. Here's how to handle it.

You IMMEDIATELY email a corrected version. You say "oops, I sent an outdated version of the manuscript you requested on N/N/2014"

You don't spend a lot of time bloviating about how sorry you are or how busy I am.  We both know you're busy and I'm sorry too, and stuff happens.

Then you forget about it, except only after you've created a file for outdated versions.  If you do it once, you get a mulligan.  Twice and I'm not quite so forgiving (don't ask me how many times I did this before figuring out the solution.)


Jane Lebak said...

After a third party engaged in a similar mishap on my behalf, I've begun putting the date in the file name. It seems to help.

Michael Seese said...

Logical advice. I was thinking more along the lines of "Put on your ninja gear, break into his office, hack into his PC, and pull the old file switcheroo."

I wish I had read this BEFORE I that.

Michael Seese said...

"I wish I had read this before I did that"

Sheesh! That's what I get for posting B.C. (Before Coffee)

Lance said...

Now, that's better. Just completed a little bit of file re-organization. I was using the date in the title idea like Jane Lebak mentioned, but combining that with the Old Version file is better. Thank you again for insight and wisdom.

Elissa M said...

Date in title AND Old Version file--a suspenders and belt solution. Excellent!

Colin Smith said...

I think it's interesting that in almost any other context, we wouldn't question the propriety of re-sending with a brief apology. If my boss requested a daily report and I accidentally sent him yesterday's, would I think twice about emailing him again with today's and a quick "oops, my bad!"?

One of the things I appreciate about what you're trying to do here, Janet, is you're reminding us that agents are human. Maybe there's been so much emphasis on following submission guidelines and not spamming agents (both necessary emphases), that writers have become scared. This only adds to the "gatekeepers" perception, which, in turn, makes going agent-less unnecessarily attractive.

Just a thought, for what it's worth.

Anonymous said...

I've done this so many times it's not funny! And yes, I always resend with a brief apology.

Colin Smith, good point. Hope everyone will remember not to worship agents (except the Shark of course) but just to regard them as ordinary people to whom we can behave as we would toward other people.

J.D. said...

I can't believe some idiot actually did this! Stepping back and actually looking at the whole production of trying to get a book published is really quite hilarious. I've kicked in hundreds of doors knowing nothing of what might be behind them - could be a guy with a gun, and sometimes was. I would then go on to chase, tackle, fight etc. the bad guy without a single thought. But even knocking on an agent's door, even when that knock is really only an email, is terrifying. I have literally jumped on to and off of a moving train in pursuit of a seventeen year old kid that was shooting somewhat random houses with an AK, and I still cringe a little everytime I hit send.

Once again, thanks for holding my hand through one of many, with I'm sure many more to come, embarrassing and frightful moments.

Britni Patterson said...

... I'm making new folders in all my manuscript folders right now. Because this is BRILLIANT. And obvious in that way that brilliant things are once they're brought to your attention.

But still brilliant. I'm so tired of double and triple checking the files I send out because I'm so afraid of sending the wrong ones.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I created a software-style numbering system: [file] V1.1, V1.2, V1.3, etc.

I also created packages that matched up with most query guidlines:

[file]query (query only)
[file]query10 (query plus 10 pages)
[file]query50 (query plus 50)
[file]querysyn50 (query, synposis, 50 pages)


I got all the formatting buggles worked out and could open copy/paste into the email.

And I still sent out a bad full . . .


Lance said...

Terri, I like the idea of packages. What format are they in. Even with the incredible instructions on Ms. Reid's blog, I feel like an amateur trying to disarm an IED every time I put together a query package. Thanks.

cleemckenzie said...

Great to know I'm not alone in this "which-version-did-I-send" moment that happens right after hitting send. Thanks so much for the advice.

I knew literary agents were human. I just knew it. :-)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Lance, I did them in Word, with the formatting stripped out. Nothing fancy.