Yes, this is filled with whisky

Yes, this is filled with whisky

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Query question: when the call isn't The Call

What are your thoughts on agents who make "the call" but only to gauge the writer's interest in revising, as opposed to offering representation?
Note: This has happened to me twice. I'm beyond frustrated and, quite frankly, a tad insulted that (proverbially speaking) an agent won't put a ring on my finger until they see how I perform in bed. Sounds crude, but it's true :/

My thoughts are, would you like it more if we called with form rejections?

I'm not sure how "the call" came to be the expectation for how agents offered representation, or that the only time an agent calls is to offer representation.

I've called several people at that query stage, and it wasn't to offer representation, it was to straighten out something like missing pages, or screwy manuscript format, or some other lesser matter. I'm really sorry if they were disappointed about the subject of the call, but it's a whole lot easier to do some of this stuff by phone rather than email.

You've set yourself up here. If an agent calls you to discuss revision, it's a whole lot better than a form rejection.
And trust me, finding out if an author is open to revision is one of the key things I'd want to know before offering to take them on as a client.

"The call" is like "happy book birthday"--something invented within the last couple years that has taken on an importance that is not warranted. It's a shorthand used by  authors to talk amongst themselves, but it's not a shorthand used here.  I can't think of a time when I've said "time to make The Call" when I was considering taking on a client. In fact, by the time we get to that point, we've had SEVERAL phone calls.

Try not to see it as an insult. It's an expression of interest. In other words, it's a good thing.



Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

No comments yet?

The Call sounds like a great title. It's amusing to hear the Shark's take: "time to make The Call".

I've wondered where this term came from but never thought about it from the agent's PoV.

If publishing is a team sport in only makes sense that the agent will invest time with someone who is willing to make revisions.

Congrats to OP for the interest. Don't be frustrated. Get to work.

brianrschwarz said...

Were these calls that the author received offering revise and resubmits? If they were offering revise and resubmits (r&r) on their manuscript, I'm having an enormous amount of trouble understanding how in the world this would be a bad thing.

If the call didn't offer an r&r, I can understand why the author would be frustrated -- but at the same time I would be taking every opportunity to understand what I could improve on and why or how I managed to do it wrong the first time. And then I'd probably hit ten conferences that included that agent to run into them and talk some more.

Just last week we had a conversation about paying a truckload of money on editing services to give a novel an edge when being sold to editors... but when an agent offers free advice after reading all or most of a manuscript with an insiders look at a book for free, us authors are frustrated?

It's easy to get caught up in "the way" it happens in the internet age. First you query, then you submit pages, then you get the call, then.... ect. When really, this isn't THE way, it's A way it happens. And everybody has a slightly different way and some strange circumstances that go with it. If by some mastery of luck and fate I end up with an agent, my story would include self publishing a novel by accident when I won a contest and didn't understand what self publishing was, going to BEA without a clue or a finished book, and submitting a manuscript to an agent and later withdrawing it to submit another...

Nothing about my path to publishing so far has been typical... and I would not be surprised in the least if the path others took was as atypical as mine. But you better believe my advice to an author after publication will not be "you see, you need to start out by being an idiot, because the connections that you'll make will prove to be invaluable later on..."

If you're getting calls of any kind, it's not because agents are cruel. They see something in you. You should figure out what it is that they see, and make it better. After all, they're calling you, and they could be doing a lot of other things instead.

Kitty said...

Try not to see it as an insult. It's an expression of interest. In other words, it's a good thing.

That's how I see it. At least I think I'd see it that way should I ever get to that point.

Angie B., "time to make The Call" reminds me of time to make the donuts.

Amanda Capper said...

I can understand how getting a call and not being offered representation would be disappointing, but it's still a call. Someone was interested enough in your work to pick up the phone. It would seem encouraging to me.

If another call comes in and your frustration leaks through the telephone lines (or towers, or however all that science fiction stuff actually works), you might sabotage yourself.

When agents start calling (this is me being confident), I'm pretty darn sure I'll be thrilled every time, even if they dialed the wrong number.

Donnaeve said...

What Angie said.

Also, it won't necessarily be "The Call" either when it's an actual offer of representation for a book sale, for instance.

It might be "The Email."

I read another blog called Writer Writer Pants On Fire. Mindy McGinnis, proprietress, is a HOOT. She's written interview blog posts with hilarious ACRONYMS - like WHAT = What The Hell Are You Thinking - which is about story ideas, or, another interview series is Submission Hell -It's True - which she explains is "The SHIT" and she interviews authors (carefully) about their book deal and how it came about.

There is nothing better than to read other stories about how it happened with getting agented or selling books to publishers. I LOVE them. I get "goosies" when I read something akin to my own personal story, and through all of these interviews you can find all sorts of author experiences.

Which is to say, I noticed a lot of authors who got The Email - not The Call. Now this might apply more to writers WITH agents who were on submission and waiting for responses back from editors. Either way, I noticed it was often "THE EMAIL," they got and not "THE CALL."

I think this idea of The Call was born amongst writers and took off when anyone actually received "The Call" from an agent. They'd do a blog post about it and then, a newbie like me years ago would read that and dream of the day I could do my own blog post titled "The Call."

It became like a rite of passage amongst writers. I guess.

Well. Off to Raleigh today to sort out Mom's Social Security, i.e. fun times with Mom and Little Dog.

MB Owen said...

I find it a sign of intelligence and (quite frankly)respect that an agent would ask the writer if she'd be willing to put in more time into a ms she already thinks is finished. That would be an agent I'd like to work with.

Julia said...

Ah, I coulda been a contenda... If only the sink hadn't been full of dishes, I mighta been first off the mark...

Lord, when did my life become focused on Shark Blog 101?

Anyway, I agree. I, too, understand that initial spark of "Wait, wait, here it comes..." when that cute guy crosses the room at the dance only to ask about the weekend homework assignment - but let's not forget that maybe that same guy needed an excuse to talk.

Point being, keep focused. Everyone has their own Main Goal, and nobody else can say what that Main Goal is, but for many of us here it's (I suspect) acquiring traditional representation through a well-respected AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives) Literary Agent for a well-conceived, well-written, well-edited manuscript - and one would expect that said Agents know this as well. Presumably at least the reputable ones (the ones we all want) do.

Such being the case, as The Great Incisor points out, would a form rejection be better?


I'd much (Much, MUCH) prefer an opportunity to dialogue - in whatever form - about the MS (no matter how much amusing angst I've posted) than an immediate and complete shutdown. It gives us a starting point, and even if it ends up in rejection, it says, "Hey, you, over there, up against the wall - aren't you in my fifth period biology class?" Or, in other words, "Something in me says that this might be of interest to me. Do 'x,' and then let's see."

And even if THAT goes straight to rejection, I've learned.

And learning, to me, is never a bad thing.

Unless it came by way of bizarre and mutilating accident. Not that I'd know.

Benthic Lurker

LynnRodz said...

You're looking at this the wrong way. You're seeing the glass as half empty rather than half full. If an agent called me to talk about my writing, I would be ecstatic. They saw something there worth taking the time to call.

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

I am not surprised that our original poster has felt that any agent call will be "The Call". Many writers who have just signed with an agent have written posts about this.

However, some of their stories - as well as agent POV stories - do talk about how THE call was not necessarily the FIRST call. With good reason, some agents will want to get to know a writer, first - as will a writer with an agent. You are interviewing one another, basically.

And with this in mind, it is easier to readjust expectations and indeed, come to the conclusion that any agent call is a good sign of things to come, even if it isn't with the current manuscript.

Beth said...

I've never heard "happy book birthday" before. Maybe I'm just putting my newb status on display by saying that.

To the questioner: as others have said, at least you're getting calls! Even if it isn't an offer of representation (yet!), this is still a very good thing.

AJ Blythe said...

In some ways it's a relief to hear that 'the call' is probably not 'the call' that authors talk about.

Thanks to the time difference, the call would come in the middle of the night, and AA (awesome agent) would probably get a response something like this.

Mind you, I'd be thrilled to think my novel generated enough interest that AA actually picked up the phone! A happy dance moment for sure =)

Susan Bonifant said...

I want this insult.

The more I read here, the more I believe Janet's attitudes probably represent those of most people, never mind agents:

Don't characterize me as your dream agent, and don't freak out if I call you.

When I was a wee Human Resources recruiter, my only job was to interview an insane number of entry-level college grads for their First Business Job, and send them "upstairs" - maybe.

Nothing was more unsettling than seeing the anxiety on those faces the minute I walked into the lobby and called their names.

But I made it fun. I'd sit them down and say, "Okay, you don't look nervous but you probably are so let's get started with the most important question. If you could be any jungle animal, what would it be?"

They'd go blank and I'd say, "Kidding. I'm kidding. See? This isn't so bad."

It's not fun to be fearsome.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Kitty, Time to make the donuts.
AJ, that Golden Girls snippet had me rolling.

Last night I spent some time on Brent Weeks website. It's one of the best author websites I've seen. Here you can find how he met his agent Donald Maas. After an initial disappointment from what he considers a terrible pitch session he went home and revised for 9 months then resubmitted.

You'll have to fish out the story, there's lots to read.

Just a side note: Amazon doesn't make donuts.

Sam Hawke said...

I guess it's impossible not to have some part of you in a wildly optimistic 'break out the adult nappy' sort of mode if an agent calls. The important thing is being able to handle it, and appreciate that you've still got a Really Good Thing, if the call is a request for a revision, not an offer. :)

Colin Smith said...

I'm not ashamed to say that I'm among those who don't expect to hear an agent's voice on the phone unless it's to say "Can I be your agent, please?" I think Janet is the first agent I've read contradicting this notion. That's not to say other agents wouldn't agree with her, but certainly seems to be the perspective among writers, and few agents are saying otherwise.

I'm also not unwilling to accept correction. Exile on Carkoon will do that for you. :) I have to admit, it would be cool to get a call from an agent, even if they're just asking about my query or some point about my ms, or just to hear my hybrid accent. Building relationships is part of what this is about, and though I'm not very good at this voice-to-voice/face-to-face communication thing, I can see its value.

Thanks for the correction, Janet! Call me. Let's do lunch sometime. The Tacky Omelette serves the best kale sandwiches on Carkoon--you'd love it! ;)

brianrschwarz said...

AJ, seriously I was also rolling at that Golden Girls snippet. Oh wow!

And Julia, I hate to say it, but there's only one way out of SharkWatch -- get an agent. Without one, you're as marooned as Gilligan and the Skipper... only the island is actually Carkoon and a space ship is a lot harder to build than a boat... that or you could try some explosive fillings.


S.D.King said...

Showing my stubborn ways again, but. . .the idea that I could read a few interviews and pick an agent who would be my perfect match is as far-reaching as the girls on "The Bachelor" (a show that I would only watch if shackled in front of it with my eyelids duct-taped open like a political prisoner).

Using the OP's analogy, I would want a few phone calls and maybe a coffee date(and then I am still not getting into bed - I am old-fashioned about that), but I might sign a contract.

Dena Pawling said...

In my day job, a phone call is usually for bad news. Something good happens, we send around emails. Something bad happens, the managing partner calls a meeting, or the client calls to get “the full story”.

That said, a few weeks ago I won a trial that I actually should have lost. So therefore that DEMANDED a phone call! The witness called her supervisor. I called my managing partner. Both of us, just outside the courtroom, wearing out the bottoms of our shoes from dancing in the hallway with phones plastered to our ears.

I have thoughts and/or dreams at times that an agent tries to call me, for whatever reason. I'm almost always in court during the day, so any call, even “the call,” is pretty much guaranteed to go to voicemail. Then if I get a free minute at lunchtime when the client uses the restroom for a minute, or after court when I'm driving back to the office or home, and I check my voicemail and hear a message to call Agent X back, I'll have major trouble focusing on the rest of my day and/or on the rest of my evening, envisioning multiple versions of good/bad phone conversations. And with the time differences etc, when am I gonna EVER get a chance to call back?!

Then I send a reply email asking when would be a good time to call, and the requested time never works out on my schedule unless it's outside of normal working hours, and the agent decides “I can never get ahold of her, so I'm gonna pass.”

I carry around lists of “questions to ask if you ever get a phone call” because I never know where I'll be if/when I ever get a phone call that I can actually answer.

Even my husband and I communicate only by text message during the day.

I'm a brand new writer and I'd be kinda disappointed if an agent did NOT want to suggest revisions. In fact, one of my questions to ask is “how much revision do you think this needs?” If the answer is “none”, I'm not sure I'd like that answer. Even tho it's been thru CPs and betas and a freelance editor, surely it needs SOMETHING?

But I wouldn't expect to get a call unless the agent was at least a little bit interested. If I got a phone call for a rejection, I would definitely be disappointed. Otherwise, it's all good.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

At work, no time to read all the comments. PLEASE call if my slip is showing, I have TP stuck to my shoe or a dried booger gracing my nose. I will be eternally grateful.
Sometimes my mirror is clouded and I need another set of eyes to tell me just how gorgeous I can be.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Back in another life, I received several calls on the suspense and the childrens books I was querying, including the infamous call from gold standard children's agent who was the first to call. She got hung up on because I thought it was a joke. Everyone loved the premise of the suspense it seemed.

They called to discuss the story and wound up requesting fulls. I can talk a good story. Unfortunately, I had a lot to learn about writing back then. I had a good idea, but not the writing chops to pull it off.

A friend had an agent call her to discuss making some changes to her story. He wanted the book, but he wanted significant changes that would mean a complete rewrite. This was a top agent repping megastar clients. The agent was effusive with praise and he was obviously great, but she decided to pass.

Sometimes these conversations need to take place and it's better live than through email.

Here's one thing I think about. Aside from actually having a back and forth conversation, a person can pick up a lot from tone of voice. You can tell nothing from an email. Do they say yes angrily or with great hesitation, or are they enthusiastic about the new ideas?

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

I once got a call from an agent. It was 7:00 pm on a Tuesday. My wife was working late so I was alone. It was a little late to get calls, and I don't get many calls in general anyway. I squinted at the phone, not recognizing the number, but, okay, I generally answer even if it's a telemarketer, just to make sure it's not something important.

"Hello, is this Steve?"

I was a little bit groggy. It had been a long day.


"Hi, this is Agent X."

I sat bolt upright on the couch.

"Yes, hello!"

"Agent X with Agency Y."

"Yes, yes, I know who you are."

"Well, you sent me a query a little while ago."

"Yes, I remember!"

"Well, I just wanted to call to let you know that you forgot to put your email address on the submission form. So I couldn't e-mail you back. But we're passing."

"Oh...okay...thanks for calling."

"Okay, take care, Steve."

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Oh my gosh. That would be heartbreaking. *comforts*

Julia said...

Okay, okay, okay, since I'm marooned, HOW do you make a link appear?

I'm pretty sure I did explode, actually. Either that, or I was Gilligan in another life. Maybe in this life.

Maybe you can buy illegal "street" agent. You know, like on Sesame Street? "Do you wanna buy an S?" Only, instead of a muppet on the street corner with lots of watches and letters in his trenchcoat, he'd have a bunch of leering Literary Agents. "Do you wanna buy an Agent?"

On second thought...

Maybe waiting for The Call isn't such a bad idea.

Hey, I just had a great idea for a new reality show. Lots of authors stuck for ten weeks in a mansion with an Agent. In the beginning, they angst about what to write about. Then they angst about how their manuscript is going. Then they angst about how to show it to the Agent. Then they angst about whether the Agent will like it. And in the end, it's all about which one will get The Call.

And whoever doesn't... gets put in a shark tank.

Whaddya think?

Or, better yet, one of those rigged 60's game shows with cheesy jingly background music. You know, "It's The Call with Agent Manuscriplicker! The only show on TV where Authors get to Guess What The Agent Wants! On tonight's show, we have Tanya Tumblesheets of Tumbleweed, Texas, a Romance Author! And Sly Sneakypants of Staten Island, New York, a Detective Fiction Author! And last but not least, Airy Fairy of Venice Beach, California! And we welcome Chomps the Great from Marvelous Manhattan Lit as this week's returning Agent Champion. Let's go first to you, Airy Fairy! "


"Fifteen seconds, Airy..."


"Let's turn now to Sly!"

"BANG! The last Agent... the one in my book, I mean... I took him down in three. So I just know I can handle this, no problem. You want my masterpiece, I know you do."

"Do you have an actual question for Chomps, Sly?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I do. How much you figure I'm gonna get on this contract?"

"You haven't actually moved to the next round yet, Sly."

"Yeah, but I'm pretty confident..."


"And we move to Tanya!"

"I just wanna say how much I love your work, Chomps. It's fantastic. I mean, the way you manage those contracts, it's incredible. I love it so much, I came out to your office one time, and I followed you home..."



Elissa M said...

Wait a sec--

Writers constantly complain about form rejections, parse every word in such missives to find hidden meanings, but a personal phone call to discuss the work and the writer's willingness to revise is an insult? Did I just wake up in Oz? (Land of, not Down Under.)

Like Susan Bonifant said: I want this insult. Free advice from a publishing professional? Bring it on! Even if it's the middle of the night.

Julia said...

@Steve - :(
I'm sorry. Did this really happen? Good grief. (Passes comfort food/drink/soft woodland creature of choice).

Karen McCoy said...

Poor Steve! :( *Hugs*

Agree with Susan. This sounds like a problem worth having. They might not be "putting a ring on it," but they're calling. I had a wonderful conversation with an agent over the phone a few years back--they're great to talk to (and learn from).

And thank you. Someone said it. I'm all for supporting my author friends and spreading word about their books, but the whole "book birthday" thing has just turned ugh for me.

For Julia: Here's the link code that I always borrow from W3Schools: W3Schools Link Code

ReCAPTCHA gave me guinea pigs. Adorbs. (Mayhap we should add ReCAPTCHA to the blog glossary?)

Julia said...

@Karen - thanks! :)

Karen McCoy said...

Julia: No problem! And love your shark tank idea.

LynnRodz said...

Steve, Steve...what a let down! I'll make doubly sure I don't forget my email address when I start querying so I don't receive one of those calls! I guess it goes to prove sometimes no call is better than a call like that.

Julia, there's a reality game show in Italy (or there was last year, I'm not sure if it's still on) called >Masterpiece where writers sent in their manuscripts and were eliminated each week until the winner received a book deal with a major Italian publisher. I think I like your version better. LOL!

Colin Smith said...

Karen: You don't use my explanation? *pouts* Gee... thanks... *sniff*


Amanda Capper said...

Holy Hannah, Stephen, heartfelt hugs! In that two minute conversation you made it to the top of the mountain, and then someone booted you off.

MB Owen said...

S.D. King - - I'm with you on the Bachelor thing.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey, my vomment definitions made it to the glossary. I am the most famous person I know - which is a sad commentary on my life.

Jenny C said...

Other than a few requests from Twitter pitch parties and one from a contest, I've only been sending out queries for three weeks so I haven't yet had a chance to work myself up into a frenzy of anxiety over the possibility of a CALL. But I have read lots of blog posts where agents and their new clients talk about how they chatted on the phone when the client accepted the offer of representation. It's a big deal on the blogs. I can understand why getting a call that isn't an offer would be disappointing. That said, in this world of emails and texts and tweets, we can't forget that some people just like to talk on the phone. A phone call signals some interest (except in poor Steve's case- so sorry), so be grateful and move on and send out another query. Best of luck, OP, that you get your CALL soon.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Janet's probably the most famous person I know, and I haven't even met her yet. Which means everyone in the Tank here are next-in-line in terms of fame, since we all know of the squadillions of people that read this blog, at least a gagillion of them read the comments. :)

You're a star! A celeb! :D

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I've grown to, in general, find phone calls aversive. It's kind of a turnaround from teen and college me, who would be on the phone (I didn't have a cell phone yet, though) an awful lot. Though I do answer my phone, work and location permitting (I will not answer in a grocery store line, for instance. My first job was a cashier, and I will not do that to a cashier. Those people....I still remember those people).

So if an agent called me to discuss my work? Yeah, I'd be pretty happy. I'm made happy by a personalized rejection rather than a form, for cryin' out loud, I don't need a call to be THE Call™. Geeze, if Ms. Reid wanted to call me and chat, though she does not represent urban fantasy, I'd still say yes!

Funny thing on the topic of "book birthdays", I read that here (using the library Feedly) and then saw another agent's blog (I forget who) wishing two separate books Happy Book Birthday! But I often find differing opinions like that. I sometimes peruse the New Leaf Tumblr, and don't enjoy it nearly so much as these shark infested waters.

Kim Long said...

When I was querying, I heard stories about how agents emails to authors to set up a call to talk about the book didn't actually always lead to representation. Rather, get this, it really was just a call to talk about the book, revisions, potential representation, etc.

So when I got the email from an interested agent, I read it like a zillion times. Since it said "discuss representation," I figured I was safe. And I was, she did offer, but I didn't assume it was that. In fact, one of the other agents who ended up offering did so only after we talked on the phone quite a bit. And one I was on the phone with kept raving about the book, but never said the magic words, "I'd like to offer representation," or ANYTHING like that. We talked for a full 45 minutes, and it certainly seemed like he was going down that path, but I was such a Nervous Nellie, I didn't want to assume. I think I finally just said something like, "Does your offer include other books too, or just this one?" Or something like that. I really wanted to make sure and wanted to hear those magic words.

Anyway, my point is that I don't think it's odd that an agent wants to see how open an author is to revisions, ensure the author isn't a crazy person, etc. before offering rep. Somewhere along the line authors got the idea that a call = offer, but there are just as many examples of that not being the case.

Karen McCoy said...

Colin: Whoops! Sorry I missed that. I've been out lately due to sinus surgery (I got my packing out today, yay!).

Consider yourself officially bookmarked. ;)

Julia said...

Oh, for Pete's sake. Third time, then.

@Stephen - To you. From me. Us, if others are on board. Just ignore everything but the pic and the "Cheers, Stephen...." part. (heh, heh, Karen & Colin...)

Woodland Fish

R. Zilah Woodbach, Captcha? Really? Who the heck is R. Zilah Woodbach? On second thought, scratch the "Woodland Fish" signout. Just call me Zilah.

(Oo! And I got bread AND steak AND sushi?! for my second and third and fourth tries... I must REALLY be screwing up...)


REJourneys said...

Steve, I'm sorry to hear that! I guess it was nice that they thought to call instead of leaving you hanging.

I do understand the frustration. You see a new email, a response from an agent you queried, or you have an incoming call from an New York area code, only to find out it's not what you were hoping.

But like others, and Janet, have said, chin up! It's fantastic news that someone wants to chat about your writing. I'd assume praise would be part of the call as well, making it a more pleasant call than "you owe us money" - a call I get a lot because someone gave my number out.

Julia said...

Omigosh. I can't do it. I can't DO it! This html thing, I mean.

Here, Stephen. One more try.

Fifth time MUST be the charm.


And now I get sandwiches. Hm. Must be if you put in HTML, you get to choose food. Or some weird name.

Christina Seine said...

I had something sorta like that happen once, but I had also realized by that time that my MS had some issues, so I wasn't that surprised. That agent was super awesome, and incredibly helpful. Was I exceedingly bummed that things hadn't worked out the way I wanted them to? (you know, gushing agent, instant book contract, major deal, all the awards?) Heck yeah. But in retrospect, I can see that things worked out for the best. Funny how they almost always do.

I think everything in this situation hinges on the tone of the emails prior to this Call With A Capital C and Two LLs. If the agent emailed something like, "Holy Moly, I love your work! Call I call you first thing tomorrow?" then a certain amount of "Are you kidding me?" is justified when The Call only turns out to have a small c (as in crud). If they said, "I love your work, but there are a some things I'd like to discuss with you - can we talk over the phone?" well that's different. That's when you A) break out the emergency chocolate, B) boost said chocolate with a medicinal shot of whiskey, C) dampen half a box of tissues, and then D) put on your big writer panties and buck up, because after all, an agent is willing to spend time helping you. Which is huge. Consider taping the conversation, by the way, because even while you are taking copious notes, your brain is still off in a far corner of your skull, silently weeping. You may not remember a word they said.

And Stephen, ouch! *sends virtual chocolate and whiskey*

Julia said...

Oh, good grief.
I give up.
Clearly, this is why I was not meant to be a computer programmer.
It was a picture of all of us lined up as Wee Woodland Creatures.
See? Here we are. (Just pretend, because I'm not going to try again. Janet once called me "Tenacious," which was her kind way of saying "You're Stone-Headed Stubborn," I'm sure, but in reality, that only applies to medical training and writing, not HTML code. I'd put a "g" between those little greater and less than signs, but I know by now that it would just vanish and make me look stupid. :) )

Zilah Fish

Bread Again. I've made my computer suspicious.

Julia said...

Bah. Just can't let it go.
Here it is without the link. I leave it up to you whether to pursue it, but I can't just go write and leave it hanging. I'll break out in hives.

More sandwiches. I'm stuffed. And more to the point, I think that it doesn't care if you get one wrong.

Zilah Squid

Karen McCoy said...

Julia: Rats. I would have posted the example code, but Blogger wouldn't let me. To sum up (if it helps):

Type a

then href

then =

then "

Then the full web url (html included)

then "

then >

Then type the link text (Zilah)

then <

then /

then a

then >

For the full code, here's <a href=">Colin's example.</a>

Colin Smith said...

Julia: It's not you, it's Blogger--just ask Donna. Sometimes Blogger has issues with links, especially if you don't have a Blogger account, or some kind of Blogger account, or perhaps a Google+ account--I don't recall the exact way you have to hold your Blogger head to get it to work. If you post the http address, I can see if I can make a link out of it.

On the topic: Is there a danger that agents who just want to talk to a writer about his/her work will have to preface each conversation with "Don't get excited, this isn't 'The Call'..." to counter what has become the popular conception about agent calls and be sure the writer is listening to what they're saying and not just waiting for the "magic words"?

Christina Seine said...

Oh! And perhaps an addition to the blog glossary? When we first started talking about soups and wine and signs, I was completely lost. I thought you all were comparing mystical, metaphorical signs of some kind. At which point, I neurotically wondered why I had not received any metaphorical soups or mystical signs or even (especially) wine. And then reCaptcha asked me to compare bread, and I felt SO happy and included. HOWEVER: reCaptcha people, cupcakes are not bread. Cupcakes are one of the four food groups, but they are not bread. Also, does anybody see the irony of a robot asking me to prove I'm not a robot?

"Prove you're not a robot."
"YOU prove you're not a robot."

Colin Smith said...

There ya go.

Shark Tank Technical Support

Julia said...

@Christina - LOL Holy baloney, I just about spewed my smoothie across my laptop and wrecked my Upcoming Bestseller.

YOU prove you're not a robot!

(What if I *AM* a robot? Isn't this specism?)

Okay. I really ought to be doing my writing on something that has a plot.

And Colin / Karen / Donna, thanks, but I'll just take my marbles and go home. I'm pretty sure Stephen got the point. :) I've proved that I was a Woodland Creature. (How many times can I use that phrase today? Never mind.)

Milo Fish

PS - Deliberately chose soup instead of cake. It doesn't work. <-- Empiricist at work

Colin Smith said...

Julia: If it's any consolation, I'm no MD, and doubt I ever could be. You win. :)

Julia said...

Colin: If it's any consolation, I left. They won. You don't want that. Trust me. You chose the far better path. I've been to your blog. The far, far better path, my friend. And in that, you win. And having said that, I'll go on to say this - in all seriousness, something I will rarely achieve here in the lighthearted mood I reach here and not on FB and rarely in my writing - I truly believe there is no "win/lose," and there aren't any mistakes, except not doing what you absolutely believe in. And further than that is for other domains. :) I'm here, on this blog, and not seeing patients, and not in an ICU - on either side of the rail, and much of that is by choice.

We are who we are, and happiness isn't as out of our hands as many people suspect, I think, that it is.

But again, I digress. Utter vomment.

Off to the novel. Really.


Kate Larkindale said...

When I got The Call from my agents, I didn't even know that's what it was going to be. They had already sent several emails about all the changes they thought were going to be necessary to the book, and asked if we could Skype and chat about it. Because I live in NZ, working out a time was a challenge, but we did, and we talked a lot about the book and revisions. Then, about 2/3 of the way through, they offered rep and I just about fell off my chair.

I think I was completely inarticulate for the rest of the conversation because it was completely not what I had expected...

RobCeres said...

I think I would like to have any of the versions of "the call" described above with just about any agent. The opportunity to get any kind of professional feedback - wow - even if it is a rejection. But I do make sure to always include my email. That is the one call I really wouldn't want to get!

bjmuntain said...

I'd never heard of 'the Call' until the last year or so. I kind of always thought all this was done over e-mail, and I was okay with that. I'm less nervous on the computer than I am on the phone.

When I did hear of 'the Call', I always took it to mean it was a mutual interview - the agent liked the query/partial/full (usually full) and wanted to know more about the author, while the author asked questions that would help decide if this was truly the right agent.

In other words, it's a phone meeting to determine if agent and author are compatible.

Someone mentioned having a list of questions to ask if such a call ever occurred. That's probably a very good idea.

Regarding Stephen and his call: I can see this being terribly disappointing. As someone said, taking you to the top of the mountain then booting you off. But me being me, my mind is now working on what I'd say. Because I'd have a LIVE agent on the other end of the phone line. Quick! Ask a question! "What didn't you like about it?" "Does my writing suck?" (Now I'll never get a call of rejection, but I'll be full of questions if I do.) You didn't have the chance to overthink it, Stephen, but I do. And so I shall overthink it to death. Thank you for letting me know this is a possibility.

Julia: So cute! I see you as the rabbit in front. Colin's the bear with the red scarf. Me? I'm the little dog hiding behind the stump.

Julia said...

Janet: Re: I Am Not A Spy - Holy Cr*p! I knew you had "people" out there - even tossed some links at you last winter when things went to St. Helena Handbasket overseas a couple of times... but... good grief. I never caught the actual link before. Wow. Well, 'nuff said.

(Captcha has gone nuts on me today. It never likes me, but today, it's gone completely Augustus Gloop, and I simply cannot eat another Wafer Thin Mint.)

Danger Fish

bjmuntain said...

Missed this, sorry:

Carolynnwith2Ns: You're gorgeous. Now go out there and give 'em H-E-double hockeysticks!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

All right people, just so you know. When we start calling woodland creatures, I get the honey badger because...master of mayhem.

Amy Schaefer said...

Meanwhile, back at the original question...

I read this post a few times, but subsequent readings did not diminish my confusion. The questioner had the chance to have a detailed business discussion about her manuscript... and is angry about it? To fall back on the dating metaphor, the OP is asking the agent to marry her on the first date. Can't you get to know each other first? Is that really an insult?

If your nose is already out of joint at this point in the process, how will you survive dealing with an editor, an art director, a publishing house, booksellers, and the many, many other people required to make your book a success but who won't always tell you what you want to hear?

Julia said...

@Julie - I'm a badger. I figured I'd be a badger, and I'm a badger. I took a quiz and it said so.

Or else an owl. I like owls. And bunnies. :)

See? There's a quiz for everything. Even for Wee Woodland Creatures like us.


Julia said...

Oh, boogers. See? Still can't do HTML. I fail HTML. Utterly and completely. So here's the link. I leave it to others who can do the HTML thing to link it up.

@Julie - I'm a badger. I figured I'd be a badger, and I'm a badger. I took a quiz and it said so.

Or else an owl. I like owls. And bunnies. :)

See? There's a quiz for everything. Even for Wee Woodland Creatures like us.

Badger Ray

Seriously, Captcha. NO MORE FOOD! Give it to someone else. I canna eat na more!

Julie.M.Weathers said...


I think you have the right of it. As mentioned before an agent discussed with my friend changes he wanted made. Basically pull out three main characters and wrote three separate books about them instead of having their stories intertwined.

That would be very similar to taking Game of Thrones and doing separate books on main characters. After much thought she declined.

Sometimes you just need these conversations to see where everyone is and where they are willing to go. An author should be thrilled an agent is that interested.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: What do you mean? Your hyperlink worked. There it is in my browser all blue underlined and hyperlinky! Well done. :)

brianrschwarz said...

As a non user of blogger - here's my helpful advice on links!

HTML is all about tags. You open a tag, and then you close a tag. The stuff that happens between the open and close tag are what becomes the link or the bolded stuff. Below is my YIPPE tag. It makes everything between the tag happy.

YIPEE I'm a penguin /YIPEE

But tags always need to be eaten by sharks or they don't work. ALWAYS EAT YOUR TAGS WITH SHARK MOUTHS! (also known as less than or greater than symbols)

So Links look like this:

a href=""

with open and closed shark mouth around the above text. Then you need to close your tag with this:


and use your open and close shark mouths around the '/a'

The stuff between the open tag and the closed tag is your linky.

You might be doing it completely right but you might not have words between your opening tag and your closing tag so it doesn't have any words to show in blue and use as a hyperlink.

That's my lesson of the day! Go eat some HTML with shark mouths!

Julie.M.Weathers said...


Well, I can be a ferret then, same amount of mayhem.

Julia said...

Um. These links aren't showing up as blue for me. LOL. The only blue things showing up for me are y'all's names.

I give up.

Back to my Mystery.

I found several "Rules for Mystery Writers" online yesterday, and last night, no kidding, at 4 am, I woke up, my eyes flew open, and I went, "I GET IT!"

And now I have a plot that works.

So why am I talking to you? Because now I have new Reefers.

I typed that before I realized that it worked on one level and not on another. And, yes, I have a kid with Asperger's and ADHD, and I have NO idea where he gets it. :)

Maybe I should actually be a Squirrel.

Dory Squirrel

(Please, Captcha, No More Food!)
(Holy Baloney, Batman! Prayer works, not that that's a big surprise to me, I got guinea pigs. And I'm not eatin' 'em.)

b-Nye said...

Wait...Agents call you?

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

He he wow thanks for the comforting(s) everyone. My feeling is: best war story ever, right? @Julia - I know it sounds like something out of a Ziggy cartoon, but, yes, it actually happened.

Julia said...

Dude, I'm with you on the "Ziggy Cartoon, Yeah, That Really Happened" thing.


Reality Fish

(Seriously, Captcha. I could feed a small nation at this point.)

bjmuntain said...

Brian: Love your HTML lesson! Especially the shark mouths.

I used to teach HTML. Back in the 90s, when the internet was 'a fad' and right around the time it went GUI (graphical user interface - meaning it wasn't just text anymore, there were fonts and pictures and colours, oh my! And GUI is often pronounced gooey. Which makes loads of sense if you really think about it.)

(Those were also the days before a mouse went from woodland creature to click-crazy animal. So... before it got published?)

bjmuntain said...

I just took Julia's woodland creature test.

I am an owl.

Not surprising, but a little worrying. Don't owls eat other woodland creatures? I'm not like that! Honest!

brianrschwarz said...

Haha. Thank you BJ!

In college I programmed robots. Not real robots, mind you, but Carol the Robot - a computer language made for one infinitely useful purpose - to make it through a maze.

Really the programming language was quite cool - taught me how logic tests work and such. And it had the added benefit of watching a visual robot traverse a maze after you were done programming it. Made me feel accomplished.

Then again, I eventually made a super-robot that could traverse every maze by always turning left and they got mad at me and made me program stupider robots that could only traverse specific mazes.

Super Robot Brian.

(Even Captcha agrees. It just made me identify humans from robots... wow... that was ironic)

bjmuntain said...

Brian: That's what I found with my computer courses, too. Even though I didn't go into a programming field, I found it really helped to understand computers. While others were crying, "Why isn't this working?!" I was able to say, "It's because it doesn't understand what you're asking it to do. Try this."

It was taking computer science, too, that I realized that most CS students didn't want anything to do with writing. And thus began my technical writing career.

I got sandwiches. I hope they're gluten-free. Although the cake I wasn't allowed to choose looked much yummier...

It must have heard me. It wouldn't take my OpenID that time, so this time, it showed me cakes. Much nicer.

Karen McCoy said...

According to the Woodland Creature quiz results:

"You are an owl. You are a cultured person and probably have some good close friends. People should be wary not to anger you as you will attack."

Not sure about that last part.

And favorite ReCAPTCHA yet: cats.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Brian, the only computer programming I did was Basic in High School. I planned a senior hook day, keg party on Sugar Loaf mountain. Mass printed the message. Keg parties were happened often. I was so proud of myself I'd learned to loop language.

No one played hookie because the principal caught word and sent out a message, anyone who did would be suspended.

I can't believe I'm telling you this stuff. It's 1 AM and I'm drinking cranberry juice.

Donnaeve said...

There's no way in hell I'm reading all this after a day with Mom. Just so ya'll know.

Colin - yes, ask Donna about hyperlink failure. (I DID see that.)

I just wanted to see if I got guinea pigs on reCAPTCHA.

Lilly Faye said...

Janet, feel free to call me anytime! I'd be thrilled to chat with you about anything at all. I haven't queried you, but...wait, is that a prerequisite?

Does anyone else get the beer CAPTCHA? I'm supposed to pick out the only glass that doesn't have beer in it. I guess the shape of the glass is the clue, but they all look like glasses of beer to me. It's a difficult task for a non-drinking poodle.

brianrschwarz said...

Haha Angie, that was a WONDERFUL story. I don't know why you WOULDN'T share it publicly! Unless of course your former principal reads Janet's blog... oh no...


bjmuntain said...

ReCAPTCHA must be on a diet, Brian. Especially after giving everyone else so much food...

(Although I've had giggles today, your epic cry for ice cream made me burst out laughing)

I got sandwiches again. At least you can always tell the sandwiches - two slices of something bread-like around something food-like...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Okay I'm gonna see what I get.

'reCAP, I got Namizia, what's that all about ? I want food, bwahhh
It Timed out and I got av fernado

Julia said...

Awright, Carolynn. I'm sitting here with a migraine listening to Mozart & Barber's Adagio, trying to focus and get some word count in, and I check in and see that, and all I can think is... where are the rest of the letters? Is that all typo? Namizia? Av fernado?

Clearly, I'm either over-budgeted on screen time or under-budgeted on sleep time, or both... but I think I said something about that last week.

At least my Louise Perry "Teaching Guide" came in (AKA the next in the Gamache series....).

UnCaptcha'd Tuna

Annay Dawson said...

Seems to me like any call would be better than no call or a rejection letter.