Thursday, June 18, 2015

Query Question: Relationship between time on submission/offers of representation

Is there some sort of unspoken (or spoken, and I've just been oblivious) truth that when an agent requests a manuscript, the likelihood of their offering to rep decreases as time goes on?
In the past few months I've had as many as 14 fulls/partials out at once. I currently have 9 fulls and 3 partials out. The most recent have been out for 3-4 weeks; most are in the 3-4 month range. Some I've nudged, only as per their guidelines, sometimes with updated versions; they've responded they would happily read the newer version, and were sorry for being behind. One has had the manuscript (in one form or another) for over a year. And one has had a partial since January.

I'm constantly seeing Tweets like, "OMG SQUEEEEE! My How-I-Got-My-Agent story, on my blog!" and inevitably when I read it, their timeline indicates the person queried, got the full request within days, and then got the offer, again, within days.

Query Tracker seems to suggest similar. I can't find a single instance of a writer sending a requested manuscript, then hearing back with an offer 3-6 months later.

I'm afraid I'm sitting on a pile of rejections (or on-responses) because they've not offered rep within the first 72 hours. For the record, until I started seeing more and more of these "how I got my agent" stories and QT stats, I never would've expected to hear anything (good or bad) for at least 2 months. If an agent's going to offer rep, is it always on a project they're so excited about they put their entire jam-packed schedule aside to read the whole thing in two nights? (1)  If it's something they aren't wild about, do they stick it in a pile for mass-rejection months down the road?(2)

It's hard to give up hope when I've had so much interest, but because no one's sent me an offer within hours/days of receiving it, based on Twitter/agented writer blogs/Query Tracker, I'm starting to feel down about the whole situation. (And yes, I'm working on other projects, but I can't get these floating fulls out of my head).

P.S. I detest the "word" SQUEEEE.

I've never signed a client that fast. Not ever.

Not even the amazing Patrick Lee whose query and pages were so enticing, I called him (rather than wait to email) to request the full and waited at my keyboard for him to send.   I emailed him when I had finished reading the book, and it still took a week to sign him. I'm almost positive that's the fastest I ever signed anyone, and his query sat here for at least a couple weeks before I got to it.

Those stories about how fast someone got signed are due in large part to the enormous increase in the number of agents pursuing projects, rather than everyone reading faster and offering quicker.

The stats at QueryTracker aren't scientific. No one is required to report; those that do aren't required to report accurately.  Twitter is just blather most of the time, not even as reliable as a news crawler.

In my experience, agents are actually reading slower.  My colleague Brooks Sherman just signed a client who had been in the incoming submissions for a year. I've got GOOD manuscripts pending that have been here six months and longer (a fact of which I am not proud, but is indeed the stark truth.)

To answer your actual questions:

To answer the question you didn't ask:
No, you aren't even close to any kind of freshness date expiration on your submissions. 

I've signed several clients after lengthy waiting periods. I'm currently working with a prospective client that's been on my radar since 2008. I fully expect to sign her as a client and sell her work when the novel is polished and ready to go. 

There are all sorts of ways to drive yourself completely bonkers while your work is on submission. This is one of them.  Don't let yourself get caught up in this kind of faux statistics game.  Have confidence in your work, and have confidence in the process.

Publishing is a long game. You're learning that the way we all did: the hard way.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Is it 4 for 4 ?

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Yes...raises fist in glory. Neener, neener, neerer all you lazy bones.

Sam Hawke said...

I bow down before you 2Ns. I refreshed not 5 minutes ago, I swear.

Opie - I have some new stats/pointless anecdotal evidence for you! My first offer came from someone who'd had my MS for over 3 months. The others were faster, but only because I got moved up in the queue based on having had an offer. I had very close calls on ones that were out for even longer - up to nearly 5 months on one, I think.

You can't assume excitement levels based on length of reply. Plenty of agents read in order (which gets disrupted by things like offers of rep that necessitate faster answers). Your request numbers are fab - keep doing what you're doing!

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congrats to the OP for so many requests.

Amanda Capper said...

Neener neener neener. I love that. Makes me laugh. I wonder who first figured out how to spell that out?

Thank you, Opie, for this post. It's encouraging and a relief to be reminded.

DLM said...

And another one of the things we can flog ourselves with, as pre-published woodland creatures, is "that author got eleventy-billion requests and I only got (x)" ...

I mean, damn. I know we're not in competition, but one of the outcomes of Twitter squee-ing is that those of us who aren't getting clamored-over go all glum and rock-kicky and wah.

What I'm saying is, in asking this question, the author is actually doing to all the rest of us what was done to them in the first place by way of all these anecdotes. And isn't ironic, dontcha think. (Insert "neener neener" here?)

It can be a tough circle of life, amongst us woodland folk!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Lets see, first to reply, (blowing raspberries at the rest of you), chased the dog, answered the phone, prepared and ate breakfast and finally got to reading the post.

If I had so many requests and partials out I would have thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Opie, you are in lottery ticket anticipatory-purgatory. Have you won, have you lost? You imagine what you will do with your winnings and yet you know, but for a fluke, you may be using your losing ticket for a bookmark. But it's not just by chance that you might win this one, it's because of a lot of G-Damned effort. Believe, my friend, believe. Put out the positive vides and take in the anticipation of the win because even if that's all you get, it's a hell of lot more than the rest of us get.
Good luck friend. Sounds like the wave is about to break in your favor.

Anonymous said...

I've created a deviously simple method of giving people points for being first to post based on (1) length of post (2) time after blog post that the first commenter posted (3) number of consecutive times it happens.

So far we've got -

BrianRSchwarz - in the lead with 6 billion points
Carolynnwith2NN's - in a close second with 51 points
DLM - 2 points for style
Sam Hawke - 1 point because I think he did it once.

Did I mention that when I was growing up, the scorekeeper always won? Usually my dad offered to keep score. ;)

Tony Clavelli said...

Wow, that's incredibly impressive! If it's going to be the binary win/lose lottery, I would definitely say this writer has won. Obviously there is something incredibly enticing in OP's work, so even if none of them ultimately offer representation, there's clear indication that OP has got "it."

I've been querying for six months, and have only had two (it seems so pitiful now) requests for the full manuscript, and one of those rejected only two days later. It's a position I'm envious of, but of course it's easy to also imagine OP might feel really uncomfortable, too! Janet's right: keep waiting. But with it being so long, I bet the next book can't be that far off, and with as many bites, you're bound to get picked up.

Kitty said...

I like Opie's phrase "floating fulls." I think that calls for a contest! How about a contest with prompt phrases as opposed to prompt words?

Donnaeve said...

I have about five different responses to this post flying around in my head.

1) I too, love to compare stats on publishing timelines so I can analyze in my own way; is this a good or bad thing?
2) No matter what, there is no definitive "timeline" from what you read online based other experiences.
3) In this case, it sounds positive, b/c it's easier to just do a quick form rejection.
4) I'd say some haven't even read it yet. Maybe they're waiting on someone else to back read it with them.
5) Isn't it funny how we woodland creatures get ourselves all twisted up, even when the good stuff is happening?

Like someone once said to me, silence is only silence. It doesn't mean yes, but, it doesn't mean no.

Good luck!

2N's, I'm up early, but sometimes, after a day of staring at the "box," (as my husband calls it) I just can't bring myself to turn it on. You go girl. Is that as bad as "squeeeee?"

Ly Kesse said...

To Opie: congratulations on so many requests.

I wanted to jump in and say that I heard one story where an agent finally got back to the author more than a year later. Now he is repped and the book will be out in 2015.

DLM said...

Off-topic question I wanted to ask the community here, but didn't want to submit as an actual post-du-jour for Janet ...

Has anyone ever been put on an agency mailing list after a rejection? I received an email today advertising classes from an agency that rejected me recently - just a standard R, nothing special about it. I'm not offended, merely bemused; but it seems to me to make little more sense, really, than a rejectee putting an agent on their newsletter or blast list. I queried you once, you passed. We're kinda done here.

Anonymous said...

As to the post...

This post was aptly timed. To the Opie, I agree with the chorus of pats on the back and accolades that you will hear all day long! It certainly sounds like you are on the right track and I'm sure it will pay in dividends!

So here's my unsolicited advice via story -
A guy from a bigger band told me this story. Back when he had just gotten signed, they headlined a show in a little bar in Iowa. They were on a tour with smaller bands (one that wasn't signed at all) but bands that were buzzing. Well a massive blizzard had hit the plains of Iowa (and if you've ever been to Iowa during a blizzard you'll know they are not prepared) so all the highways were closed.

The three bands had made it to the venue before the highways closed, and the sound guy made it (who had the keys) but that was about it. They knew nobody in their right mind would be coming to this show. So they sat and talked and drank in the main room (which was unusual because normally there were 3 green rooms and the bands would keep mostly to themselves).

Unsigned band's lead singer, full of alcohol and swagger, walked up to my friend, newly-signed-hot-stuff-buzz-band-dude, and he said this - "You know what man? People think you're really cool. But let me just tell you somethin you don't know. I know where you're headed, and I know where I'm headed, and someday I'm gonna be 100x bigger than you." And then he smiled, laughed, and walked away.

His name was Tyson Ritter and he was fronting a little band called All American Rejects. Which is now, ironically enough, 100x bigger than most every other band that came out of the early 2000 era.

My point is this - trajectory matters more than everything else. A foolish person thinks when they take a big jump, the road ahead is paved in gold. But someone who is smart understands that aquiring an agent is step one in a long-play full of twists and turns and plot points. Too many people run this race like the agent is the finish line, and when they cross it and don't receive flowers/praise/accolades, they think something went wrong. After all, weren't they a special butterfly? But the people who have the most success in their endeavors are the ones who were driven enough to get there, and smart enough to realize where "there" really was.

I think it's better for it to take longer for a reason you didn't mention. I think it's better because you're less likely to forget the endurance it took, and more likely to keep going forward -- whether someone wants to help you or not.

That's my take. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, praise the Lord and pass the biscuits someone finally asked this question. I have a friend, shoot, she may have asked the question, who is in the same position. She has several requests, but is convinced due to "data" if the agent doesn't request within days on requested material that means they aren't very interested.

Nothing I've been able to say dissuades her from this thought. Maybe QOTKU can.

Since 2008? Criminy. You must have the patience of Job.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Leave it to Capt. BS to skew the statistics.

I am proud to be the most pathetic of first commenters. That I have nothing better to do, during my week off, then sit with curser poised above Janet's refresh, shows the world just how lame a life I have BUT ya gotta win at somethin'. I may have always been chosen last for dodge ball, as a leftover actually, but I believe 4 for 4 in the big wide world of on-line agent blog commenter is a record. How's that for stupid statistics for even stupider achievements. I am skulking off to Carkoon now.
I'm thinking y'all can't wait until I go back to work next week.

Beth said...

OP: Nine fulls and three partials is amazing! Congratulations!

This is the kind of problem that we (writers and humans in general) love to wallow in. Ultimately, you can't compare yourself to anyone else. I think this is something that we all know, but that doesn't mean it's easy, especially when you're stuck waiting. Good luck!

LynnRodz said...

OP, it's not everyone getting picked up in a matter of days, but those are the stories we usually hear. They sent their queries and days later they had to choose between several agents fighting over them. After that, their ms went to auction and was sold for a mid- to high 6 figure 2 book deal. I know someone like that. It happens, but it's not the norm.

As someone else said, keep believing. (I hate squeee too.)

Colin Smith said...

I have to agree with my chums here, Opie--that number of partial/full requests is a POSITIVE. It means you have a great query, and an enticing concept. If you've submitted samples with any of those queries, those agents likes your writing enough to want to read more. Out of the hundreds of queries in the inbox, yours has stood out. Don't be discouraged! Look at this as an indication that your work deserves serious consideration by industry professionals--people who read lots of good stuff every day.

On the response time thing, I wonder if it's linked to genre? YA still seems to be pretty hot at the moment--do YA agents tend to respond quicker than others, given how highly competitive the field is (not that publishing isn't highly competitive for all genres--I'm speaking relatively)?

2Ns: Unless Janet starts giving away Patrick Lee books for first commenters, I'll enjoy my sleep and join the fun when I'm semi-conscious, thanks. ;D

Beth said...

I'm also interested in hearing if anyone else has had DLM's experience. Frankly, I would be annoyed if an agency rejected me, and then start blasting me with email newsletters. This does not strike me as professional behavior.

Anonymous said...

2N's, I'm certainly impressed. :) And don't worry about the point disparity. It's all just faux hubris. I don't really drink at all anymore, but in my mind I could drink a family of elephants under the table like some kind of old Norse Viking.

There's being full of oneself. And then there's Captain BS, a few light years north of there.

Susan Bonifant said...

I think, Opie, that where there is no information, there is only speculation, and that's a problem if your imagination is in a bad mood and thinks your sunny outlook is an idiot.

Then it comes to you and says, "Excuse me, but probably the reason you haven't heard anything is because (bad thing here) and I wouldn't trust that outlook of yours, either."

I think it's really, really important to remember that often, what feels like information comes down to what you choose to believe based on a lot of other factors at the time. Usually, it could be as good as it could be bad and you have excellent reason to believe it's the former.

Colin Smith said...

To Diane's question, no, I've yet to be put on an agency mailing list... though that would be a good thing, wouldn't it? It means they have your email on file and if the agent wakes up in the middle of the night with the cold sweats because they made a mistake rejecting your query, they can easily contact you begging your forgiveness and asking for a full. Right? ;D

Summertime on Carkoon. It does stuff to yer head.

DLM said...

Susan B, I want a t-shirt that says (bad thing here). Or a bumper sticker.


Or, Colin, maybe one done up to look like a fake travel brochure - "Summertime on Carkoon! It does stuff to yer head!!!"

However - gigglesnort on the idea of an agent coming back begging. I do love a good fantasy!

Beth, as I say, I wasn't so much annoyed as quizzical. All I could think was, "if I did this to them it'd be a blocking offense." It just seemed thoughtless to me, more than arrogant. If they actually email me a second time, I'll just unsubscribe or ignore/delete, but it was an odd thing.

Now, if JANET had a newsletter ... :) There we'd have a shark of a different color

S.D.King said...

brianschwartz - hope you don't mind but I wrote down your phrase "the scorekeeper always won." I write MG fiction and in the pressure cooker world of Middle School popularity, it is an important concept to keep in mind. I plan to steal it.

Dena Pawling said...

“I'm afraid I'm sitting on a pile of rejections (or on-responses) because they've not offered rep within the first 72 hours.” Maybe you are. Keep querying. That way, when you do get an offer, it will be a wonderful surprise.

“It's hard to give up hope when I've had so much interest” You're not giving up hope, you're just keepin' on keepin' on.

The how-I-got-my-agent stories that I've read, are usually of the “OMG I've been writing and querying and receiving rejections for XX YEARS and my perseverance finally paid off.” Maybe you should be reading the sites I read =)

DLM – that sounds almost exactly like the discussion we had here a few days ago, with the agents rejecting and then advertising their editing services. It's not exactly the same, because editing is more personal than a class, but still, I agree it sounds shady.

Beth said...

I'm glad you weren't annoyed, DLM. I think my fuse is short for this kind of thing. My email is out of control already, so businesses automatically adding me to their mailing list is not a welcome contribution.

I agree; if Janet had a newsletter, I would subscribe even more quickly than I'd buy her book.

Craig said...

I thought Squeee was the perpetual victim in that sick comic JOHNNY THE HOMICIDAL MANIAC.

Congrats on so much response. Now it is time to learn the virtue of patience. Good luck.

Colin Smith said...

I hope no-one's actually suggesting Janet start a newsletter--that's a sure-fire one-way ticket to Carkoon. I too would subscribe IF such a thing existed. But we have this blog--isn't that enough?

Talking about mailing lists/promotion/advertising (OK, so give me credit for TRYING to make this appear at least vaguely related to the topic--or at least one of the topics)... I wonder if Janet's been contacted about advertising on her blog? I can only imagine the number of daily hits she gets, and I'm sure it's enough to make advertisers take notice. The Carkoon Tourism Board are certainly interested, especially given the increase in the number of visitors we've had here over the last year thanks to Janet's efforts... :)

DLM said...

No no no no!!!!! I consider this blog even better than a newsletter. And would hardly beg for MORE from Janet; she gives us a lot providing her answers and this forum for us to cultivate our little community. I was just comparing interest levels - as in, I'd rather get stuff from her any day than from form-rejection agency.

Beth said...


Perish the thought! I may be relatively new here, but I know better than to try to suggest that Janet add anything else to her schedule.

Please don't send me to Carkoon.

Colin Smith said...

"Summertime on Carkoon: And you thought a form rejection was disappointing..." :)

Colin Smith said...

"Summertime on Carkoon: All the excitement of 50 Shades of Kale"

Anonymous said...

OP, it took a year, minus three days, from sending my query to my agent and signing with her. Publishing is a slow industry. But also, sometimes queries/partials/fulls get lost. I'd send a polite nudge/check-in after six months, but otherwise assume no answer on requested material means they're still thinking about it, or haven't read it yet. Until then, sit back, write your next work, and eat as much chocolate as it takes to keep you calm.

Megan V said...

Thank you OP and QOTKU. This post could not have come at a better time!

OP: Congratulations on all of the requests!!! And, you are not alone in your worries. I'm in a similar boat and have been doing the same blasted thing. I even ferreted out the "How I Got My Agent" posts that involved the agents that have my MS. Time after time, the posts were exactly as you described.

Then I hopped over to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler and discovered that I was making a mountain out of a statistical molehill. It turns out plenty of writers on AW got their offer of rep 3,5,6,9 months out. Others got theirs a year later. In short, you are not out of the running yet!

Still, I won't tell you not to fret. It's hard not to. Like 2NNs said, it's like sitting on a proverbial lottery ticket. Truth be told, this information hasn't stopped me from consulting my magic 8 ball, which usually responds "Outlook Not Good" until I shake it furiously with a few muttered oaths.

Then I squee. I mean, come on everyone, one does not simply hate on the squee. :)

Brian: That's an awesome story!

Kari Lynn Dell said...

First off, her Sharkness speaks the truth about her own signing timeline. I submitted a full to her in September and didn't get an offer until late February, and that was many, many moons ago when she had fewer clients and, I assume, a smaller number of queries. It is possible that by the time she called, I had ask "Janet Who?".

And second, for the record, the mind games don't end after you sign. You will send your latest to your agent, and if you don't get back rave reviews within three days you'll assume she's been busy composing the letter in which she explains why signing you was a horrible mistake. And then after you sell--my current state of insanity--you'll submit the second book in a series then gnaw off your fingernails convinced your editor is taking weeks to get back to you because she can't figure out how to break the news that it sucks toads without causing you to jump off a tall building.

And then, of course, she drops you a line and says how she's sorry, she's so behind and has several projects coming up on deadlines and hasn't even opened the file yet.

And then the book hits the shelves and you've got millions of potential rejections. Yay!

So basically life as a writer is long stretches of self-induced crazy, bouts of rejection depression, interrupted by moments of joy that dissolve almost immediately into the next phase of self-induced crazy. Why are we doing this again?

Oh, right. Because otherwise when I talk about the voices in my head, instead of thinking it's cool people pick up their drink and sidle away.

Donnaeve said...

Kari Lynn Dell and Brian have really both nailed it. One thing I've heard over and over, getting published is hard, staying published is even harder.

When I secured my agent, my editor at the time (freelance) said, "Wonderful news, but remember, the book may not sell."

Either way, it's a good thing publishing is slow. You have more than enough time to adjust the emotions. I, for one, simply couldn't take it if it my mood swings followed anything like the Vortex at Carowinds.

Got a first coming up on Sunday. I think I might be in the same boat as a few others here. As some of you know, Dad passed March 3rd, so this will be my the first Father's Day with him. That will be a hard day and as it gets closer, I find myself trying to stay busier. Hence my overload of comments. Plus my new project is going well. Yay for that.

Donnaeve said...

...obviously I meant withOUT him.

DLM said...

Ugh, Donna - go out with your mom and do something that takes up your attention and y'all can laugh about. I still shout at radio and TV Father's Day ads, and it's been a dozen years. I'm ANGRY not to have him, at this time more than any other. The sadness stops, but I'm not sure the upset ever does.


Today's question: Schrödinger's query.

Colin Smith said...

Diane: Sorry, but the Carkoon Tourism Board is pressing me to come up with a suitable slogan to sell to Janet.

"Summertime in Carkoon: Beelzebub's home-away-from-home..." :)

Donna: We have a few people at church in a similar situation, which reminds us that the day isn't only to appreciate the fathers among us. For many it's a day of gratitude for the fathers passed, whether recently, or years ago. And that's just as important.

Anonymous said...

I've still got hope, if Brooks is that far behind. :)

When so many agents say that they might not get to your query for weeks or even months, I don't see how they could possibly know that your query is THE query before they even get to it. I think the quick signings are the exception, rather than the rule. And it's entirely possible that people who were signed quickly are more vocal about how long it took. "It only took three days!" Whereas those for whom it took longer, "I've been signed by this agent, and it's going to be a terrific ride."

It's a statistical problem. When the subjects are self-reporting, you're going to get a very subjective view. People are pleased as punch to report the good stuff, while those who don't have 'good stuff' to report often just won't report. So reporting is skewed. I would think that the reporting done by agents might be more objective (they're not as emotionally involved), though I doubt the amount of time between 'query sent' and 'offer of representation' would be something an agent would worry about. They know the business. They know how long things take.

I'm a strange person. I can handle fingernails on chalkboards (for those who remember chalkboards) and the squeaking of styrofoam (for those who don't.) They're not pleasant sounds, but I can handle them.

But the word "squee" grates on my nerves like a high-pitched whine. I'm sure that an actual squeal (even from audio feedback) would be preferable to that written word.

DLM: I haven't noticed that, but then, I do tend to subscribe to interesting-looking e-mail lists fairly quickly, so I may have thought I subscribed when I received a newsletter.

Canada has a wonderful (relatively) new law that says you can't just sign someone up for a newsletter or anything without their specific request. You can't even have the checkmark in the 'yes send me stuff' box marked by default. If someone complains and the government department dealing with this finds fault, it can result in a hefty fine - no matter where in the world the e-mail originated.

That said, I doubt I'd complain about an agent's e-mail list. I might unsubscribe, or I might keep getting it, just to see what they have.

As for Janet having a newsletter: Sure, that would be cool, but the blog is so much better. Newsletters have a way of sitting in my inbox and never getting read. And they're so one-sided. The blog, on the other hand, is a community. Much more enticing.

However, if you really want, you can subscribe to Janet's blog feed, and you'll get the blog posts delivered straight to your inbox (albeit a day late).

Donnaeve (and others in her position): (((hugs)))

Anonymous said...

Kari Lynn nailed it.

"Oh, right. Because otherwise when I talk about the voices in my head, instead of thinking it's cool people pick up their drink and sidle away."

Yesterday I was discussing a rabbit trail on the new WIP with one of the crew members and she asked if I was going down yet another rabbit trail and maybe getting off track.

"Oh, no. This one was planned all along."

"Your mind is a scary place."

Yep. Who wants to keep the crazy all to themselves when they can spread it around?

I go to bed thinking about the stories and I wake up thinking about them.

I won't live long enough to get them all written and I am not wasting energy fretting about stuff I have no control over. That's energy that ought to be syphoned into writing not wringing hands.

The OP has nine fulls out here's and three partials out. They ought to be seeing Edward the IV's omen of victory. That's a remarkable number of requests. Stop looking for disaster based on some artificial timeline.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, thank you heavenly father. Last night I get to kill horde with a crazy night elf. I hadn't even planned on playing World of Warcraft but got dragged in and laughed all night long at the antics.

Sometimes your mind just needs a reset.

Today I check Books and Writers. The lady who has blocked me, a moment of silence please, because I failed to see the opportunity in retyping her 30-year-old book and adding some chapters and plot lines it in exchange for co-author billing with her vanity press has just offered Diana Gabaldon the same opportunity. She understands Diana's fans will be upset that she jumped genres, but it can't be about her fans. It must be about Diana.

Holy crap. I don't even know if I can stop laughing long enough to write today.

Anonymous said...


It's tough. I was in the store the other day and picked up some Russell Stover chocolates because they were Dad's favorites, so I got him a box and a box to pass out. Then I thought, well, yeah. Dad is gone.

Go out with Mom. Do something to get your mind off it even for a little bit. Thoughts are with you.


Anonymous said...


I about lost it reading about your B&W friend who blocked you... I cracked up so bad at work that I had people walking over to ask if I was okay. Talk about nine kinds of crazy... wowzers.

BJ -

I heard about that. Actually while I was researching my own mailing list stuff. And let me tell you, the double opt-in has been the bane of my existence. Two whole clicks?!?! I can BARELY manage to get ONE click... let alone TWO!

Heck - "Justin Bieber just married the presidents dog" would barely get one click! Nobody's gonna double down on that bet to see the story. By the time they click the first time they realize they've been had!

I don't know what got into me today. I'm a bundle of raging energy. Someone shut me off before I get fired please...

Donnaeve said...

Diane, Colin, BJ, Julie, et al, awwwm thank you all! (((Hugs))) back to you.

I do have plans to spend time with Mom, put flowers on his grave, and try not to think about all the other firsts to come. I'm full of the realization a zillion others have been here, done this, and it's just strange times for me right now. Lots of happy laced with bits of sad.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Donna, take your mom to your dad's favorite restaurant or cook his favorite food or just have a good cry. It's hard in the beginning but you know, as time passes it doesn't get any easier, it morphs into a new kind of unsettling normal.

I talk to my dad all the time in the car. I'd talk to my mom, (she passed 7 months after my father) but I don't usually spout off to her because she'd probably answer back. Now that's a squeeee...

Donna, you're in a tough position because not only is your dad gone, the mom that your mother was when he was alive is gone to. Getting to know the 'everybody' without him is hard.

All of you out there, missing someone this weekend, hold on. They are not a world away, they're still here, in heart and thought. Jeez, this has been a deep-week for me. Off to get a box of tissues. Hey boys and girls, Sunday is only one day. We had them for a lifetime.

John Frain said...

OP, one more anecdote to help ease your mind, although you should probably just reread Kari Lynn's post a few times.

I've just started querying, and last night saw two different writers on Query Tracker who were signed after 11 months and 14 months respectively. The 14 month nudged the agent, got a "sorry for the time/thanks for nudging" response and then a couple months later got the offer. TOTALLY get where you're coming from though. Hang in there.

Aside to Brian: Great tale. And so true. Like so much in life, the harder you work to get it, the more you cherish it. What comes easy goes away even easier.

Tracy Townsend said...

If it soothes the OPs concerns at all, I had the good fortune of signing with an agent last summer. She offered on August 26, having first requested my full manuscript on December 6th... of the previous calendar year. There was one revision (done for a different agent) in the middle there, and a switchup in what version she read because of it, but ultimately, it was still a long process, one I was sure at many points must be a sign of disinterest. Take heart!


Anonymous said...

Captain Meerkat,

I am still laughing. I had to remind myself I hadn't hit finished edit yet and new words, so the Shiner Bock must remain capped. But, dang. That post almost required a toast.

Diana has canceled Surrey IWC and her prison work there due to a conflict. I'm quite sure Diana's bouncing at the opportunity to jump genres and co-author a book with this indie/vanity press. Though the author admits they might not be willing to work with her since the publisher said no possibly because she ruffled someone the wrong way. People being sensitive and all. She thinks after two years they may have calmed down if I'm following this story correctly.

I don't know. This may be an opportunity of a lifetime for Diana to get into mainstream books and out of that genre stuff.

Oh, woe is me. Why am I so short-sighted not to recognize opportunity when it beats me over the head.

Well, this old hound might not know sic 'em from come here, but I know enough not to go fishing in an outhouse.

S.D.King said...

Just tried to go to the Fine Print Literary website and my internet security software (which is not touchy) stopped me. It said that "suspicious activity" was happening there.

Hmmmm. . .

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wow. 9 fulls and 3 partials? What everyone else has said. Wonderful affirmation. Patience needed. Keep up with that WIP. And it's good to hear other people's experience of time lags between requests and response. Sounds like unpredictability remains the norm.

Donna and others; I treasure each year now with my dad. He's entered the frail years. Intellectually, I knew it would come some day. But now it's here.

He's not who he was. He's more mellow. Doesn't brush off hugs. Sleeps a lot some days. But then, he gets this wild hair up his butt and decides to mow the tall grass underneath their little pine forest (without first checking to see what's under that tall grass) and can't figure out why the lawn mower quit working?!

That lawn mower....he's mowed off strawberry beds. He's mowed off raspberry beds (YES, with the tall cane branches). And he's mowed off Mom's flower garden. And this past winter...the wash machine. Disconnecting the water hose from Mom's NEW machine so it can drain direct onto the patio. In winter. (we live in Minnesota). When I asked him how he had detached the water hose....oh, he just moved the dryer away from the wall to get at it. Frail?! huh. right.

Donnaeve said...

2N's - that's why you're a writer, a superb one at that. Thank you. (and boy are you right about the Mom thing. I've been thinking that very thing lately)

Lisa, frail aptly describes my father in the end. However, if your dad continues to do those things, he's doing all right, even though you can tell he's slowing down. (sort of :) )

Frailty is actually a medical term used to describe the toll taken on robustness and general well being for those with life threatening illnesses.

DK said...

For what it's worth, my time from query to signing was four months. It was worth the wait.

DLM, I also had the experience of getting a newsletter from an agent who rejected me. I thought it was odd, too.

Also, what Kari said. Especially about the head games continuing.

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I've been reflecting on this today, and thinking about what I would want my kids to do after I'm no longer here. I would hope they would mourn my loss, and even shed a tear. I don't want them to try to forget, but I also don't want them to become so grief-stricken that they can't function. Life goes on, and so it will. But I'd like to think my absence is felt, and they aren't afraid to admit it.

So, as 2Ns says, shed a tear. Remember your Dad on Sunday. But also enjoy the family still with you.

And for the record, my dad passed away about 9 years ago. He had been ill, and I wasn't home for most of his illness. About four months prior to his passing, my oldest daughters and I made the trip to the UK to see him. When I left him at the hospice that last day, I knew I wouldn't see him again. That gave me time to come to terms with his death before it actually happened, though it was still painful when I got the call.

Unlike others here, I won't miss my Dad on Sunday because I saw so little of him after I moved to the States. Due to the circumstances of our lives, I got used to him not being around. But that doesn't mean I'll forget him. I talk about him often. And my SecondBorn carries his initials: RJS.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Thank you Donna. It means a lot.

Lisa, my dad didn't get a chance to be frail all he had was a few days to be scared and then he was gone. I wish I had spent more time by his side while he wrestled with the frightening reality of what was happening.

Why is it, that only after they are gone, we realize what we should have done and what we should have said. To bad we don't get a chance to edit that.

Anonymous said...

John - thanks for the aside! I always got a kick out of that story.

2n's - Honestly I think you should tell her to put her ideas on ebay. I bet she could sell just a few droplets of supreme wisdom-filled novel ideas for... say... a million each? No doubt they're worth... five times that at least!

Or perhaps she should query a few agents and then call their cells after a few minutes just to make sure they read her query first. I always have a lot of luck when I title my e-mail "THIS IS NOT A BOMB NOR A VIRUS -- I PROMISE" because then they know it's good.

Fishing in an outhouse... too good. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

You know, I just realized something. (I'm a little slow sometimes).
There are two blogs going on here and sometimes even more. It's Opie and Opie's commenters and then there's the side-trackers. We switch back and forth don't we.
This community saved my soul this week. Thank you Mayor Janet and thanks to this crazy bunch of yahoos.

Anonymous said...


Wow. Well, when Diana graciously bows out (and you know she will - be gracious, I mean), then you and she will be in the same boat. Which isn't a bad thing, when you're there with Diana Gabaldon.


Justin Bieber is Canadian, too. You know it's just a Canadian conspiracy against you, right? :)


I just went. I don't know whether to be relieved or worried that my internet security isn't up to snuff.

Regarding fathers:

I won't go into my dad's problems, or the family's problems. We stopped really celebrating mother's and father's days years ago. My father hates presents. My mother still hasn't gotten over her own mother's death in the late 70s, and so Mother's Day has always been bittersweet for her. Now, the days are really just an excuse to have a barbecue and give our parents hugs. My sister hosts the barbecue on Mother's Day, so mum doesn't have to cook or clean.

I don't know, with his current health problems, if my dad will have another father's day after this one. I plan on giving him a hug on Sunday. And giving my mother a hug, too. I always try to take any opportunity to do that.

I had to call a health clinic earlier today. They had health tips instead of musak while I was on hold. One was: Hug your family. Touch has healing properties.

Hug your family this Father's Day. For everyone's sake.

Lisa Bodenheim said...


Anonymous said...


Diana will be unfailing gracious as she always is. She's a role model in that fashion to all writers. I'm not quite as gracious, though I'm working on it.

I shall adopt the Jack Sparrow approach when someone says, "You are without a doubt the worst writer I have ever heard of." I'll post a picture of Captain Jack with: "Ah, but you heard of me."

Probably not, but that would be so much fun.

Anonymous said...

I love that quote. I googles 'but you have heard of me' in an attempt to find such an image.

Here. I'll just post a link to the results:

Google results for 'but you have heard of me'

You're right. It would be so much fun. :)

newplanproductions07 said...

Thank you, Janet. This provided much needed clarity about the process. As a newbie, it’s always hard to know what to expect, what source to believe. This is an informative read and also assuring to writers with their work out there. Sometimes being misinformed can make one seem impatient, something I'm certain we all want to avoid. Thanks for this helpful info!

John Bartram said...

Business is business, right?! Treat a literary agent as you would any other business relationship. Also remember, 90% of everything is crap - so don't put up with crap.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

First off, (totally off topic, if y'all even had a topic anymore, my library got our spandy new copy of Gary Corby's Death Ex Machina today. It was funny to look in the delivery bag and go "Hey, I know that book cover...." Then it was whisked off to the Upstairs world, to be stamped and barcoded and such before being placed into patron hands.

Now then. That's a lot of full requests, holy smokes! Something's happening right, with the query or the sample or something.

With every single thing I submit, be it a short story or a novel, it's Schrödinger's Submission as far as I'm concerned. It is both a yes and a no and I will not know until I open the [in]box and find out at the end of the ordeal (we can dither about what the radioactive isotope is in this analogy). In my short story experience, the rejections which took the longest to arrive were typically the nice, personalized sort. Depending. Some mags just take forever, and it's still a form. Just the way it is.

But. As of today I'm at week 9 on my own (singular) full request and I'm dithering about whether I want to nudge or wait longer. And have been looking at how exactly one words nudges. And will definitely not sign the nudge "kisses" or with an attached picture of Elka. Not even the bunny ears one.

Ardenwolfe said...

Thank you for this timely question.

Donnaeve said...

And remember Jen, no SQUEEEEEE's either.

Colin, wonderful thoughts. What a poignant trip to see your dad that must have been.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

> Those stories about how fast someone got signed are due in large part to the enormous increase in the number of agents pursuing projects

Maybe I'm hanging out in the wrong places, but I thought that agents were swamped with queries to the point where some of them don't even need to observe basic good manners, can enforce unduly persnickety submission rules, not bother to reply at all unless it's "yes", etc. etc. etc. - ???

I also constantly hear that more and more people are writing books, which fewer and fewer members of the public read - or even notice - due to the competition for eyeballs in the marketplace, and attention-grabbing/reducing social media.

Is this increase in the number of agents simply because the sheer volume of material out there means that new ones are coming along all the time to (haw haw) jump aboard the gravy train?

Donnaeve said...

Totally OFF TOPIC, but I just saw this and hd to share.
Wish I could hyperlink, but just cc/paste and enjoy!

Dedicated to the librarians out here on Ms. Janet's blog:

StickIt said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've been reading the blog for several months now (but have never commented before) and it's been hugely helpful, but this post has been the most helpful a reassuring. I've been querying since February and have gotten a handful of requests for fulls that have mostly ended up being rejections--although there's an agent I'm really excited about who's been sitting with my book for about 3 months now, with a little correspondence between us but no decision. This is a great reminder that the process is slow and that I shouldn't get discouraged just because that's the reality. Thanks!

Sam Hawke said...

DLM - I not only got signed up to a newsletter or two, I also got repeated Linkdin invites from one rejecting agent! I don't hold it against him because Linkdin is the devil and I assume it just ransacked his emails for people to harass without him even knowing...

Best wishes and hugs and fortitude for all of you getting through a tough time of year.

DLM said...

Lisa B., when my father was diagnosed with terminal disease, his hugs became HARD, and longer. My stepfather (same "rare" disease, plus a host of others) now works in the yard so very very slowly, and so long ... he probably really wants to die this way. We understand it. Even as we want so badly to take care of him.

Sam Hawke, I can't even come up with a better response than "Holy crapsnacks."

Jennifer, RIGHT!?? The cat's always alive. Until it's dead.

*Snuggles Gossamer*

Donnaeve said...

Diane, "holy crapsnacks." SNORT!

And so, holy crapsnacks! Have a look at that errant "a." How'd that happen. Ah. I know. The beer.

Anonymous said...

If I ever get an agent and have the opportunity to write one of those "How I Got My Agent" pieces, it's going to be hilarious. And no one will believe it. Seriously, I have done every single stupid, wrong-headed, bass-ackwards, get-in-my-own-way thing you can imagine along the way. Maybe sometime I'll tell you all about it so you can bless my heart. (Don't anyone hold your breath.) Even so, I'm pretty confident that SOMEDAY I will get an agent. Point is, I'm convinced there is no normal or usual or standard way these things happen. Requests for 9 fulls and 3 partials is fantastic. Take a few deep breaths and have a little faith.

Carolynn, your enthusiasm for being first this week is charming and I'm rooting for you to make it 7/7.

I'd forgotten Father's Day is coming up. My dad died in August (not last August, it was almost 20 years ago) and it has never been the usual things that got to me. I'm perfectly fine on major holidays, including Father's Day, and his birthday. It's the unexpected stuff that trips me up. Since I had moved away from home, I always used to send greeting cards and dad and I especially enjoyed that tradition. The first Mother's Day after he died, I was in a grocery store looking at cards for my mom and realized I'd never buy another card for my dad. Left my cart right there in the aisle. Spent a good half hour in the parking lot, collecting myself, before I could drive home. I hope those of you grieving will find a few moments of happy memories as well.

LOOK! Here's a distraction! This is a talk Neil Gaiman gave recently (audio only) about how stories last. It's on the site and it's about an hour of his prepared talk and then 45 minutes of Q&A. I found it absolutely fascinating and thought other writers might enjoy it. Their intro to it:
"Neil's talk will explore the way stories, myths and tales survive over great lengths of time and why creating for the future means making works that will endure within the oral tradition."
And the link:

Seems like there was something else... OH!! I concur about Patrick Lee. I read the first chapter of THE BREACH on a website somewhere when it came out and couldn't WAIT to read the rest of it. But life got in the way and by the time I got to B&N to buy it, they didn't have it in stock and rather than wait for them to order it, I bought it as a ebook. It was my second ever ebook purchase, the first being Alex Sokoloff's Screenwriting Tricks for Authors which was e-only at that time. Really, if you haven't read Lee, you have no idea what you're missing. Highly recommended.

I'm tired and so I'm rambling. Sorry about that. Long exhausting week.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Diane, yes, trying to find that balance of letting the parent do what they love to do and not cosset him so much he feels no worth in living.

Sam, your LinkIn comment...I had wondered if it was so. I get invites from people through my other profession that draws a puzzled "eh?" out of me.

Lizzie said...

I hate squee too, even more so with asterisks.

Waiting for agents with my fulls -- man, these last six months have felt like years. When I finally hear back my novel is going to be a historical and I'll have to start querying all over again.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

Wow, KD, thanks for that great audio link. In case anyone missed it:

Stories, myths and tales survive over great lengths of time … creating for the future means making works that will endure within the oral tradition.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Waiting, waiting, waiting that's what the best of life is all about.

stacy said...

Totally concur about Patrick Lee. Read THE BREACH and it left me shaking. Can't wait to dig into his newer stuff.

And as long as I'm railing completely off-topic, I just read IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER by Julia Spencer-Fleming on the strength of her opening line "It was a hell of a night to throw away a baby." Wow. She's a master.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

2NN's, I tend to subscribe to the school of "And waiiiiting is the hardest part." ;)

Anonymous said...

Bonnie, you're welcome! If even one person enjoyed it, I am content.

Liz Penney said...

I wanted to chime in--I had many fulls out with long periods of waiting. In fact, I pulled a couple after a year. Enough already, they didn't respond to nudges (and don't sell, I checked them out.) But my offer of rep did come fast. Like in two days of sending the query. This was to an agent who is well regarded in the industry but isn't a twitter-er or in contests, etc.

In order to maintain sanity (and I had 17 fulls on one book!), you have to ignore the submissions and keep going. Comb for agents, a lot of good ones are low profile. I too read the query-sign whirlwinds and the multiple offers (3! 5! 8!) the fan-girling and the squeeing (how immature!). (BTW, some of those writers still haven't sold.) I felt like quitting more than once but in the end I was too stubborn.

Julia said...

Can I get a proxy for the contest? GI stuck me back in the ER for eval for admission again. :P

Anonymous said...

Oh no, Julia! I hope you feel much better soon. It's been a rough ride for you. :(

Anonymous said...

Okay. I had to share this. Not that it has anything to do with any topic spoken in this comment stream, but because Shark vs Baby = cute.

Awesome father makes epic jaws-inspired baby bed

Julia said...

I've seen that (I think, can't currently bring up pic in current locale) and I think it's AWESOME.

Thing 2 picked 2 shark T's for his summer wardrobe. One said something like "wish you were here" over a gaping toothy maw and the other had the JAWS gaping maw going for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid kid who was playing on a tablet in a life raft. I loved them both.

Also worth a chuckle - had a chat with very manly man attending while waiting for admitting resident. He saw the Reacher book and asked what I thought and I said I liked it, wasn't my usual style but I was learning some stuff, it was really declarative and brief and to the point. The guy laughed and said something to the effect of "No kidding," and went on to say that "the intimacy scenes" were *very* brief and he mentioned one to his wife; she asked him what was happening in it a couple of minutes later and he said, "Oh, we've moved on. We're in an action scene now. Guns and stuff." And she said, "You only turned one page!" To which he replied, "Yeah, well, he moves pretty fast."

One of the more amusing conversations I've had in these situations. Not my first rodeo, but I never tire of the conversations.

One time they had to move me because a woman had a breakdown about me stealing her Diet Coke and her keys. That was a fun one. She ended up asking the nurse if I had gone to buy her donuts while I hid in the bathroom across the hall.

Anonymous said...


I hope you write crazy people in your stories. Experience with crazy people is the only way to get them right. Hope you're feeling better.

There's a reason I always have crazy people in my stories. You know that old saying about write what you know? I know crazy. I write it very well.

Someday I'm going to be published and someone will say, "You know, this character kind of reminds me of Uncle Bert. Remember how he used to strip down to his skivvies every time it rained and go out and pee in the rain? Said it was his offering to the rain gods. Yep. That's kind of the same kind of crazy this character is."

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

@ Julie W - lol, have to say, I have a crazy Uncle Bert, literally. He's a millionaire, yet he bought his childrens bikes at a junkyard!

Ginger Mollymarilyn said...

Great question, great and interesting experiences. Good to hear.

Anonymous said...

I'm not entering the contest, my darling son took me to see Jurassic World. Much love. Now I'm trying to figure out how to get an 8' dinosaur in my house and where to put it.

Then I had to get new words and editing done, but I saw this and had to share it.

The four phases of writing.

Tabitha Bird said...

Thank you SO much for this answer. I was thinking the exact same thing as the hopeful writer who sent that email to you. I too have full requests out and was wondering if the fact that a few months has gone by meant these agents were not interested. I am very happy to be patient, but yes, query tracker is very misleading with it's information. This is so wonderful to know. Thank you again, Janet for the post. I will keep watering my hope :)

kathy joyce said...

Yes, I've had this experience. I think the message is, "We didn't like your work, now pay us to help you fix it. We have a class for that." Unsubscribe...