Wednesday, February 10, 2016

more on waiting for laggardly agents to quit eating bonbons and watching telenovelas

I received a full MS request eight months ago today and received personal confirmation that it was received. This particular agent promises to respond to everyone, even when they are only querying. I'm concerned because I waited until the three month mark to politely nudge first then again at the six month mark, yet I never received a response either time.

I honestly don't know if there's anything I can do besides what you said about nudging every six to eight weeks. Like every writer, I'm hesitant to "annoy" the agent. Does eight months sound ridiculous in the realm of full MS submissions, or do I need to just suck it up and deal? Any help would be much appreciated.

Your question prompted me to look at my pending full requests.

1. received July 1, 2015
2. received July 29, 2015
3. received August 10, 2015
4. received August 17, 2015
+ two more from Fall 2015
+ two more from January 2016

1-4  are six to seven months old. I'm sorry to say that's actually the BEST it's been in almost a year as well.

Generally I try to answer nudging emails cause I understand that writers are on rodent wheels of anxiety during this process, but some agents can't stand to reply "sorry, not there yet" and so take the path of least reply and don't say anything.

I know this  because when I've replied "hey, sorry, not there yet" it's all too common to get the reply "well, when WILL you get to it??" and the answer is "hell if I know."  That's just not something you ever want to say to a writer, let alone in any kind of written format.

I will say that nudging every six to eight weeks feels pushy. I'd do more like 90 days.

Only you can decide when enough is enough.

I will tell you this: I've signed clients who waited more than a year for a reply. I've signed clients who've waited more than two years.

You should MUST keep querying while you wait.

79 comments:

nightsmusic said...

Interesting because I've read other agents who mention they don't want to be nudged at all. I am in the nudging category however though 90 days for me would be about right. I wouldn't want to get annoying. And yes, I keep querying regardless because you just never know.

DLM said...

The thing about the un-responded-to request is that it's Schrödinger's full; simultaneously imbued with the unbelievable exhilaration of possibility ... and bogged down with the unbelievable tension of possibility.

I have no advice nor useful response other than to tell our OP this community commiserates, and we're behind you. BEST of luck, and do keep querying!

I had a full out once on which there was zero acknowledgement of receipt, no response to nudging, NOTHING. Ever. I felt it was a good indicator of this agent's compatibility with my expectations (notice I don't say it indicated they were a crappy agent, though that's what I thought of course), and did not feel bad in the least she never followed up in any way.

EMG, good luck!!!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

This post was worth the wait. I have 2 fulls from October that have gone silent. I feel better. And so glad to see Her Majesty this morning.

Do I seem needy? I mean it wasn't just me looking the lost puppy dog right? There were other woodland creatures flitting and floundering on the shore. So happy our queen is well. I missed her. I didn't think she would ever come back.

Now back to fretting over other minutia that makes up the writer's life. So additional question, on a full, the long period makes sense. What about partial requests? Are they similar? Is there a variance agent to agent? Also, I have made significant improvements to my manuscript since October as I have worked through this R&R. Should I send the revised manuscript to agents who have the earlier fulls? Or is that suicide? I think I read here that it is ok to withdrawal a submission. How do I do that? Should I write them when I am done with my latest revision to see if they would prefer to read my revision? I would hope that they would, but I am a little scared that this will make me look even more flakey than I actually am.

Amy Schaefer said...

This is a great time to learn to let go. So much of the publishing process is about waiting. Send out queries - then wait. Send out partials and fulls - then wait. Wait while you're on submission, wait while the contract gets finalized, wait until publication day.

Set a nudge alert in your calendar, then turn your eyes away. Do something else - anything else. Preferably write something else, but when that doesn't work: bake something, go for a walk, call your mother, take a tap dancing class - just jump off the rodent wheel, as Janet calls it. Anything to distract you and clear your mind.

Slow Agent will get back to you at some point. Or she won't. Another lucky agent may snap you up in the meantime. But wasting brain time on the issue will only lead to sleepless nights.

Brian Schwarz said...

My parents have always maintained an overall stingy mentality. My dad is a CPA, so naturally he keeps track of every penny, and growing up he would hesitate to give me any money without me working for it. So naturally I looked for a job when I turned 16. I'll never forget the conversation I had with my dad after my first two applications were rejected. I was in the car with him, moping about not having a job, and he asked me how many hours I plan to work when I do find a job. I told him weekends (16 hours) and he told me this - Your job until you have a job is to find a job. So from now on until you find a job, spend 8 hours a day on Saturday and Sunday looking for a job.

And I did.

Of course, every interview I recieved made me want to quit applying for new jobs, but then my Dad's words would ring in my ear. So despite the hope I had for one interview or another, I'd keep applying to new jobs, keep following up on jobs I had applied for and hadn't heard from, and keep driving around until I had found a job.

Both terrible and true. Your job until you have an agent is to keep querying agents. As if nothing else matters.

This is by far the hardest lesson to learn as a writer.

Also, I've failed miserably at transposing this mentality in my own querying. ;) So I'm with you, Opie. Soon I'll have ripped out all my hair.

Theresa said...

Good morning, everyone. I was happy to see the post up and know all is right in this known universe.

Who is it who said (or sang): The waiting is the hardest part.

Or is that the first draft? Revisions? Writing a query?

Mara Rae said...

I recently got a response to a full request...from two years ago! Fortunately I have since signed with a different agent for a different ms, but I was floored that I heard back from this person at all. And it was a really nice rejection, the kind I would have been so happy with at the time. All that to say, I know 8 months feels like forever, but they really may just not have gotten to it yet. Hang in there!

Claire said...

I'm not at this stage yet, but I can imagine the torture of finally getting your MS to a state where you're happy to send it out, getting a positive response from your query, and then... dead air. For months!! I suppose it underlines how important it is to have another idea to be getting on with once your precious first novel is completed.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

I tend not to nudge. I think I have five times, which is not a lot in the grand scheme. One replied with an apology and still working on it. One no response. I with drew it six months later as further research showed the agent was terribly tardy and refused to respond to people. Two rejections. One form. One with detailed notes. One oops, please resend it was lost.

I certainly wouldn't nudge any sooner than 90 days.

I've had manuscripts with agents for over a year. It happens. That's why you keep querying. When you get a request for a full, you do your Snoopy Dance of joy, and then you check your list to make sure you still have x number of queries out in the nethers. X being whatever your magic number is. Then you put the request out of mind. Forget about it. Stop driving yourself nuts thinking about it. There's not a thing you can do about it. The only thing you can effect is what you still have in hand.

Good luck. You've got a full request. That's a big deal.

Craig said...

And the legend of NORMAN grows to nightmare proportions.

First I have to admit that I am not yet querying so this is all solipsism.

The reasons for crickets can be of epic proportions.

It could just be an overloaded Agent

It could be the phase of the moon in relation to the subject matter of the manuscript. The tide might be going out on that brand and the Agent doesn't want to reject it. I ;m sure Agents have to also wait for the tide to turn before the fish will bite.

It could something like me trying to finish Outlander for the fifteenth time. I know it has almost rabid fans and has reached several printing milestones but it drags for me.

It could be close to something soon to be published. If that circles the Milky Way there will be a great market for your work. Crystal balls are notoriously fickle with the knowledge they tell.


Time for this one to go home.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

"You MUST keep querying while you wait." Noted.

I do believe this Shark post will be referenced quite often in the future; writers googling "how long must I wait on a full?"

Having "paper" babies" being judged can be unnerving; how much more so when you have to push it out into the world to see if it can stand on its own. Then you hear no news at all. Thank you for answering Opie's question and giving us a better understanding of the process.

And I missed the conversation on Horse showing the other day. Hunter/Jumper stories, I got 'em. But I also believe that showing taught me how to be prepared, not be impatient, and understand that everyone's riding ability, and horses are at different levels at any given time. There really aren't any "losers". It's just like writing and writers.

"telenovelas" ... *chuckle*

Lucie Witt said...

My longest to date wait in full request purgatory - since May 2013. Yep. That's not a typo.

Of course, like Janet said, my "waiting" included still querying my butt off. And if I hadn't I wouldn't now be working on an R&R.

It's been a good lesson in how slow things can be in publishing.

E.M., I'm with you on team needy. This blog is like my virtual coffee shop. I drop by every morning, talk to cool people about publishing, writing, our families, kale, and I get all the inspiration I need before heading to the office. When a post isn't up it feels like showing up and the door's locked.

We're sure spoiled with daily posts, aren't we?

Colin Smith said...

Amy said it, others alluded to it: the delay reading your submitted ms is as much a risk for the agent as it is frustrating for you, Opie. By not getting to your ms for a month, three months, a year, two years, the agent risks you getting snatched up by a hot shot agent who's more on top of their submissions pile. Imagine the disappointment on Agent Tardy's face when they get your email saying you've found other representation, and Tardy just started reading your ms that he requested 2 years ago, and he loves loves loves it.

So keep querying, keep writing, and keep on keepin' on (as they say). :)

Lucie Witt said...

Forgot to say I don't nudge on fulls until six months, unless guidelines say differently.

Colin Smith said...

... and I can *feel* the glare Julie W's giving Craig at the moment. I'm leaving the room... 'cos there's gonna be a showdown... ;)

nightsmusic said...

*leans back in chair and grabs popcorn*

Donnaeve said...

*stop smacking that popcorn, I can't hear!*

DLM said...

I dunno, I can't recall Julie ever insisting that others must like Diana Gabaldon.

But then: Mmm. Popcorn.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Ahh....good to be here. Just stopping by for my morning fill. No further wisdom to add.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Whoa, Craig. Watch it buddy, you be tiptoe'in on some shaky ground... Julie's got cowgirl life skills and knows how to use 'em. That's the most dangerous kind!

But hey, it gives me thought- one of the benefits of writing a narrative non-fiction; how many people do you know had to flee a wildfire and then sit below in their hayfield, wondering if that bigger flame than all the rest is your house? I never thought I would consider this a plus... go figure.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Donna, Night - scooch over. I gotta see this. Fried pickles anyone?

Craig said...

Damn that senile old Mr. Wizard anyway.

In conclusion

This is the reason to never give an exclusive. The tide does go out. Eventually it will come back in. Maybe at that point another query will turn a quick trick.

Keep querying and don't give up hope. The writing game is a has a long format and turns at its own speed.

I would not suggest continual nudging. Give it up after three or so and keep yourself open in case a surprise slaps you upside the head someday.

Donnaeve said...

Seriously though...

I thought my dogs taught me patience. The standing outside when it's in the teens and the wind's blowing so hard your eyes sting, and you might as well be naked while waiting for the turdlet to drop, kind of patience.

I was wrong.

You become a different sort of person with each step in the writing to publication process. Each step along the way has a way of teaching you how to fill up your patience quota to the brim. After a while, you also learn not to dump it so quickly on the things you can't affect. I think one thing that makes being patient for so long hard are expectations. I learned I was much better off - strangely - when I kept my expectations pretty low.

It sounds like OP has a healthy perspective/patience quota and is asking good questions. All the other advice about keep on querying, etc. is the best advice you could get. Much like writing another book when you're on submission, or thinking it might not get picked up, new queries, like writing a new book will renew your hope and keep you moving forward.

Good luck!

Donnaeve said...

EM! They're mine. All mine! *crunch, mmmm, fried pickles!*

Timothy Lowe said...

Everyone has stories like this, it seems. Reading takes time. That's why many busy people don't. It does make you very grateful for those agents who manage quick responses (like Janet). Those are the ones who go on the top of your list for next time. Especially when they give you some constructive feedback and not a form response.

They don't call them the 'query trenches' for nothing.

nightsmusic said...

*Hands the plate of sliders around...chews softer*

Ellen said...

I have a nudging tip that I use frequently with my agent and editor. Instead of asking if they read my material and when they will get back to me, I say something like, "Hi. I just wanted to check in. I hope you're enjoying the book, and I look forward to hearing from you when you get a chance." That way I'm not being a pest, but reminding them that I'm here, and leaving the door open for them to respond. It's a little gentler than an overt nudge.

Christina Seine said...

This is why writers drink.

This blog is why mornings are sober.

*Sits down next to Donna and passes the donuts.*

BJ Muntain said...

My procedure for querying:

1) Send out queries
2) If I get requests for partials or fulls, send them out
3) Record rejections so I know who has responded and so I don't accidentally re-submit

The only reason I don't have 'repeat' in there is because all three of those are constant.

Once in awhile, I'll look back over those that are still out, and decide if it's time to nudge them or not. Unless they specifically ask you to nudge earlier, I won't bother nudging on a query for at least six months. (Yes, some will actually say on their website: "If we haven't answered in X months, please nudge/follow up/resend.") That's on a query. Fulls take longer.

Getting a partial or full request is exciting, but it's still a part of the overall querying process. It's not a guarantee.

The queries go out. The responses come in. Like ocean tides. One of these days, the tide will bring your ship in. Until then, keep querying.

As for wanting to send out a better revision: Send an e-mail saying, "Hi. I've recently revised this manuscript I sent you. May I send you the revised version?" If you're still revising, say, "Hi. I'm revising this now. I'd like to send you the revised version when I'm done."

Janet's said in the past that she has an e-mail folder for items that have been withdrawn pending revision. It happens. And an agent wants to see your best work. There's really no sense in them reading something that isn't your best.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Thanks, BJ. I know I've beaten this dead horse before. Sending emails out tonight to withdraw pending revision. Preferably minus the coffee stains.

*breaks out whiskey and passes beignets*

"hey, what happened to the fried pickles? Is Craig still alive?"

Colin Smith said...

OK, I smelled the snacks and the beer, so I came back. :)

Diane: Yes, but still...*


*"But still": A phrase popular among Brits. Used when one's argument has been refuted, but one wants to believe one's point still has validity without having to provide cogent counter-argumentation.


:)

Lance said...

Waiting? There is no waiting! There is writing and querying.

Colin Smith said...

"waiting for the turdlet to drop"

When you're in that meeting with your boss, and he says, "Colin, I appreciate all the hard work you do for us. You're prompt, efficient, and definitely an asset to our team..."

:)

Donnaeve said...

Colin - LOL! That would be one way of describing the old pink slip.

Lennon Faris said...

This blog so makes me laugh. I did like Donnaeve's description up there, of standing in the cold, just waiting... a pain I think all dog lovers have felt at one point or another!

OP - this waiting is such hard work. I am there now too (only on the query stage, so not quite as far). I check my email about 5 million times a day. It is excruciating. As Amy Schaefer suggested, I've had to coach myself to do ANYthing else. Also, my house is kinda a mess right now. Given that everyone says it's such a long process... I guess I'd better shape up soon!

Thanks, Janet for the refresher on timelines.

wordwacker.me said...

I'm not close to the querying stage yet so I have nothing of substance to add to the conversation. However, when Janet mentioned the rodent wheel I thought immediately of a video that makes me laugh out loud every single time: Two Hamsters, One Wheel.

They seem to be having such FUN on their little wheel!

Julie.M.Weathers said...

... and I can *feel* the glare Julie W's giving Craig at the moment. I'm leaving the room...

Nope. Every now and then someone will pop up on Books and Writers in the DG forum to rant about how much they hate her books and she says, "I'm sorry you didn't like it. Not every book is for every reader, but I hope you enjoy the next book you read more."

That's the truth. Not every book is for every reader. There are discussions on the forum with people who are reading the books for the umpteenth time. Nope, not me. I may go back and flip through a few pages to jog my brain about how she does something, like I do with many authors, but reread the entire book? Not in this lifetime.

I thought I was going to be pilloried on the B&W forum because I dared to say I thought a famous author's critique of Ernest Hemingway was insufferably disjointed, rambling, high-minded, boring, and poorly written.

You would have thought I sold the woman's cat to a kittie cartel. It was then I learned some people are simply too unrefined, that would be me, to appreciate fine literary writing. Moral of the story? Knock the cowsh!t off your boots before you enter some literary circles where they'll feed you bullsh!t and try to tell you it's pea soup. It's the polite thing to do.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

But Julie, we have snacks...

I suppose we can still munch popcorn and fried pickles on higher ground. *sigh* Craig, you want some donuts? Popcorn?

Donna, I lived your patience analogy with my pug this morning before sun up. Freezing, waiting for her to find that just right spot. It is a lot like waiting for an agent to take a dump... I mean respond to request. What were we talking about?

Colin Smith said...

Julie: But still... ;)

DLM said...

Julie, I remembered your mention of Diana Gabaldon's graciousness and expected much the same of you.

But, again, popcorn.

*Proffers JMW some popcorn*

I make really good popcorn, by the way. It does NOT come out of a microwave. Sometimes it has cinnamon and sugar.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Diane, Colin, and E.M.,

Any excuse for good snacks. Fried pickles! Good popcorn! Now I'm hungry for fried okra.

E.M. I dreamed about you the other night. Yeah, I know. I spend too much time on this blog. I was in a bookstore and found a book by you. Don't ask me how I knew it was yours. The first name was very strange Emphora or something like that, but I knew it was yours and remember thinking, "That's odd. I thought the first name was Elise."

xnye said...

As strange as this sounds,this post is,...well,on time. You never ever know another's journey and being patient is not the same as being idle. Still, I cant help think for as long as there have been writers writing, agents reading, editors marking, there has to be at least some measure of fast tracking this 1776-printing-press-Ben Franklinese, version of book acquisitions. Request fulls in audio book form? If the author has an annoying voice you just stop listening and yell ' next'.

Robert Ceres said...

What DLM said! It doesn’t bode well for a future relationship if the agent doesn’t even acknowledge having gotten the manuscript. Then again, nothing gets my hamster wheel going faster than thinking about that dreaded SPAM filter.

Dear Agent, Just PLEASE tell me you got my MS, I beg of you. Then take as long as you want to read it, and I won’t ever spam you again. I promise. Your pal, Rob

As to Julie’s insightful comment regarding a great reaction to a bad review: Amen. Far better to get impassioned feelings and opinions if you ask me. The worst thing ever is a book that is so-so-blah-de-dah. No, give me a good book that some people actually can’t stand. I’m much more likely to love, love, love it, and vice versa. So write a great book! Embrace your haters. Some people will love it, others won’t. Ambivalence and mediocrity are the enemies of great writing. Least that’s what I say.

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Request fulls in audio book form?--

Criminy no. My former editor told me once if I ever get published to hire a publicist to do all my speaking as I sound like a hick.

How, would the agent know if you can spell or punctuate? How does the publisher convert it to print? How does the agent make editing notes?

Let me know how the weather is in Carkoon, Xyne.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: "How does the publisher convert it to print?"--voice-to-text of course. Now that would make for entertaining reading... :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Julie- don't fret. I suspect you are a character in my WIP who has somehow escaped the pages and landed in this blog. Only her name is Myrna Taggart. But I kinda like Emphora.

i spend way too much time on this blog, I think it might be an addiction. I wish it were an actual bar where we could all meet for real. And I do dream of the blog - it's same dream all the time. We Reiders are all cast out to sea and Colin keeps saying we are going to need a bigger boat as the biggest freaking shark swims up beside us. Then some of our fellows offer to get in this flimsy shark cage to try and stop us from all getting eaten by knocking the shark out with dried kale. That just never works.

I have, for real, started constructing bookshelves for books by authors on this blog. I am hoping to acquire some of Angie's art to hang above it. I expect a good many bestsellers will grace those shelves in time.

Janet Reid said...

Julie does not sound like a hick.

Colin Smith said...

I mean, really, who would you want to go hear talking about cowgirls? Julie, who no doubt will present the topic in her own delightful and inimitable fashion with, I presume, a rich and vibrant Southern accent... or me: "Well, yee-haa you all, jolly wot-ho!" ;)

Craig said...

I have always thought of Julie as having a Texas accent. Texas accents are a world of their own and definitely not "hick".

I also think she is a faithful follower of Will Rogers, even if he was an Okie.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Colin, the area I live in (Otter, Miles City, Terry, etc.) had a very rich past with many British men... and women. Sir Sydney Paget, Sir Oliver Wallop, Lady Evelyn & Sir Ewen Cameron are among the big names in our area's history.

Horses. They all wanted to raise good horses. Racing, Polo ponies, and collecting the wild horses for the British to use for the Boer War and WW1. There was money to be made, and they had their families money to spend. "Go west young man."

The legacy they left behind is still apparent today; a wonderful Polo Field & Equestrian center still active in Sheridan Wyoming, buttes, roads, creeks carrying their names, and two good friends of ours are 5th generation ranchers whose great granddads were given land to start their large ranches for their families to use today. I live on one of the homesteads nearby, about 80 acres in hay, that long ago most likely fed these horses at one time or another.

So yes, Colin, there is such a thing as an "English cowboy" :)

The Sleepy One said...

It's totally off-topic, but one of the Shark's clients (Bill Cameron) is giving a talk about plot in Portland soon: https://oregon.scbwi.org/events/february-2016-the-next-level/

On topic: waiting on fulls and partials is never fun. But you know what I think is fun? Writing. So I'd much rather pay attention to what I can control and enjoy, and not drive myself crazy if/when I have a ms out.

*Goes to check calendar to count how many weeks its been since I nudged the two agents who have had my ms for over 6 months . . . * :)

Colin Smith said...

Sleepy's link: https://oregon.scbwi.org/events/february-2016-the-next-level/

Janice: That's interesting. I didn't know. Cool! :)

xnye said...

Sigh. There's senior ladies truck driving school...

Mark Thurber said...

I absolutely love DLM's term "Schrödinger's full." The idea of a manuscript existing in simultaneous states of aliveness and deadness then collapsing into one of them when the agent actually reads it is perfect! I am doing my best to enjoy the sense of possibility that exists while my manuscript remains in this state. (While I plug away on the next thing, of course.)

See, there's physics on this blog too! And cats! And cats in pajamas! (Schrödinger's cat in pajamas?)

Julie.M.Weathers said...

Colin,

I did a story on one of them years ago. Sons of minor nobles who stood little chance to inherit land often came to America and went west. Many had small allowances from home, but became cowboys. Others, as Janice said, invested large amounts to build big ranches. Medora, North Dakota, for instance. The west was attractive to Europeans.

Wibaux, Montana is named after Pierre Wibaux, a French cattleman who eventually became a cattle baron. I have a picture of he and his wife in their sod house having Christmas dinner all decked out in tuxedo and silk gown.



Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Gee Louise, I show up after work and all the damn snacks are gone. Pop corn and everything. So here I sit with my cup tea and stale cookies.
And Donna, do not fret about standing outside, waiting for a turdlet to drop, while the temp. is in in the teens. This Sunday we're expecting below 0 and high winds.
Our little guy's turdlet will be a frozen fudgelet by the time it hits the ground and gets blown across the yard.

Popcorn and dog poop? Yeah I guess that's off topic.

Colin Smith said...

I know Brits can be into cowboys and that whole American West thing (sorry, Julie!). My uncle loves to read Westerns (big Louis L'Amour fan), and my Dad loved Country & Western music (classic stuff--Jim Reeves, Slim Whitman, Chet Atkins--none of the new stuff). Heck, I enjoyed watching Westerns on TV when I was young. But I didn't know they were *that* invested!

This place is an education, in more ways than one. :D

french sojourn said...


Mark; yeah I caught DLM's brilliant "Schrödinger's full" as well. Slick, but then again it's DLM, one would not expect less.

Janice L. Grinyer said...

From yesterday's post, a link to Lady Evelyn Cameron's Photography - very old photos. There are many "lady bronc riders" who were not rodeo competitors, but women who green broke (trained) wild horses for profit to sell to the US government and the British government. From Terry, Montana (on the way to Miles City :) Evelyn caught it all- with photography of her neighbors in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Evelyn Cameron



Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Coming in late. However, I did bring in some bread from yesterday's Relief Society Bread Run. I promise it's good, having been baked yesty morning. This might make up for the popcorn I missed earlier.

Professionally, I tolerate the time an agent takes on reading my full because I hope it means they're devoting the bulk of their time to their clients, to attend to their business in a timely and useful manner. When I become a client, I hope this is the level of service I receive.

Still, if I need to nudge, I'd at least like to receive a nod of acknowledgement in return.

Now, is an agent's tardiness (and possible lack of communication) mean they are busy with their clients or does it mean they are not as good at their job? For those agents who maintain some sort of Internet presence, it's easier to ascertain which is which. But for those agents who don't make a peep online, their process isn't as transparent. Practically opaque.

While the general advice is to query often, query widely, when it comes to researching those obscure agents that are little more than an entry in QueryTracker and a rather information-bare web page, I wonder about the wisdom of querying them at all. Sure, they may be brilliant, or they may be duds. Until you sign with them and have a bad experience, it's difficult to tell.

I have a Notepad file full of questions for my future agent. If I can get some answers to those questions before the query stage (thanks to information, interviews, etc online), then I see that as a good sign. Some questions, naturally, will only be able to be answered in The Call. I hope y'all have a list of questions of your own, including a few that would help weed out many Opies' Bad Experience Agents we keep hearing about.

Questions like: "what is your submission process? How many agents do you plan to pitch to? What is your editor selection criteria for a particular project? What is your editor selection criteria for this particular project? What level of communication are you willing to expect from me? What can I expect from you? Do you have a First Aid Plan for when I or another author have a meltdown because of [whatever]?" My list gets bigger and bigger.

Me, my plan is to build a long and profitable professional relationship. Currently, I have a fifty-year career plan. I'd love an agent to join me for a significant part of that plan.

Well, that's my three comments taken up in one post.

Donnaeve said...

Ya'll are cracking me up, especially 2N's!!! Hooooey! *wipes tears* Frozen fudgelets indeed.

Little Dog is so little (less than 4 lbs) he would likely be blown across the yard along with his turdlet - should we get a taste of Connecticut weather down here. (whispers quick prayer, pls no pls no)

I imagine I would LOVE Julie's accent. I'm not sure about my own. I mentioned on Diane's blog a while back that my Dad had what was called an old Raleigh accent. He said "dorter," for daughter, for example. So, being born in Raleigh, you'd think I'd sound like that too...but no. Mom is from Maine, and her manner of speaking sort of rubbed off on me...so, I don't know who/what I sound like. Maybe I'm the one who sounds like a hick.

I think Julie's vocalizations would be more akin to something like "Jawjuh" for Georgia, because some southern accents are as fluid as water, and sort of have this delicate lilting tone that makes you want the person to keep speaking. Shelby Foote comes to mind.

AJ Blythe said...

Aw, missed the party, and now the discussion is on accents. No idea about them 'cept that I'm always amazed the US has so many different accents. We don't in Australia and our population's more spread out. I don't get it. My head hurts thinking about it.

racherin said...

I nominate Lance for the subheader.
I will take it to by my motto, until such time as I sign an agent (which I plan to happen sometime between 2018 and when I die).

Colin Smith said...

AJ: Can I throw out a theory that is based on no research and just a very basic understanding of Australian history (in other words, an ignorant theory)? OK, here goes. It seems to me that a major factor in the development of accents is immigration. People of foreign tongue come in and introduce their way of talking, which then influences the way the locals speak. The US is a wonderful cultural melting pot, which is why you have such a variety of accents. Whereas, as I understand it, there hasn't been as much of a diverse migration to Australia. Am I wrong to think that white Australians are largely the descendants of English immigrants (and, in some cases, early convicts when Australia was a British penal colony)? That, to me, would explain why you don't hear as great a variety of accents.

Of course, I could (and probably am) way off. But this is a great forum to air such theories, knowing that someone out there probably knows better and will educate us/me. :)

AJ Blythe said...

Colin, interesting idea. But there are 18 difference nationalities in my son's high school. Even the many years ago when I was at school (in a small country town) we had quite a number of different ethnic origins. Originally yes to the British, and I think it's still the top country of birth but the rest of the to 10 includes New Zealand, China, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Italy, South Africa, Malaysia and Germany. Australia is a lot more multi-cultural than people realise.

Although the New Zealand and Aussie accents are very similar so maybe it's a time thing (as in length of time settled)? We haven't had enough time for accents to evolve?

Craig said...

A.J., I not long ago read a paper by a speech pathologist. His theory was that the Australian accent was drunken British. I was laughing so hard that I forgot his name.

Colin Smith said...

AJ: Maybe time is a factor. In which case, the Australian accent could be quite diverse across the country in 100 years! :)

AJ Blythe said...

Craig: That is brilliant and probably quite true, lol.

Colin: Bugger. I won't be around to hear it. Ah well, just have to settle for the colloquial differences instead.

John Frain said...

I'm gone all day with no Internet access and the whole blog throws a big, fat party. Good thing I can't take a hint.

Love this post. And equally love Lance's response:

Waiting? There is no waiting! There is writing and querying.

I decided I'm going to write a few short stories to try and place in magazines before jumping back into a full-length manuscript. And before I do that, I'm gonna hit eBay and see if I can find an hourglass to follow in the hick's advice to turn over the hourglass and write for an hour. That sounds so appealing to me.

Thanks for the idea, Hick Weathers. That's got a certain panache to it, eh?

Allison Newchurch said...

I'm originally Welsh, but have lived in Australia for many, many years. Firstly in Melbourne, then Sydney and now in rural Victoria.

I beg to differ on the 'no accents in Australia' topic. There are some subtle but distinct differences between regions, most noticeably (to my ear) between Sydney and Melbourne.

Take the word 'Police' for example. In general, folk in Sydney do not pronounce the 'o', so it comes out as 'pleece' whereas in Melbourne the 'o' is evident.

A couple of other examples are the fruits 'mandarin and nectarine'. In Melbourne they are generally pronounced as "mandareen" and "nectareen" but in Sydney they are 'mandarin' and 'nectarin'.

Then there's the differences between what items are called:
capsicum vs pepper
rockmelon vs cantaloupe
bathers vs togs (swimming apparel for those who don't use either word)

As for the New Zealand accent, they have vowels completely a-about. chups instead of chips, tex instead of tax, etc.

But just to get back on topic:

How do you get a request for a full? :(

wordsofrablack said...

I've never worried about this, as I guess, being British, the idea of nudging fills me with a cold dread that takes three cups of tea to quell.

John Frain said...

Allison,
You get a request for a full by writing about an Aussie who is pretending to be from New Zealand when he kidnaps a royal daughter. Drinking too much Foster's one night, he forgets which accent to use when he's making financial demands over the phone. Realizing his mistake, he flees with the girl to Indonesia only to realize he can't speak Indonesian in any accent.

But the girl can because she attended boarding school in Indonesia for two years. As she pretends to help him, she's actually arranging a long and cruel punishment where native parrots will speak in various accents as they peck the kidnapper nearly to death.

Then all you have to do is expand that story by about 80,000 words and rewrite it six or nine times and draft a query that sings and probably a synopsis that hums and send it off to a long list of agents. Perhaps one of them will request a copy of your full manuscript.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

John F, hahahaha, hohohoho, hehehehe, depending on where you're from.

nightsmusic said...

Wow, John! If that was just a wee bit shorter word wise, I'd nominate it for the next header!

;)

DLM said...

Mark and Hank (y'all can call me Diane if you like, but DLM is pretty easy to type!), thank you so kindly!

I am the child AND niece of physicists. Schrödinger is damned handy, as is Gossamer the Editor Cat, so I am well equipped!

Craig and AJB, just because the crap quality of pop-journalism on the sciences and educational disciplines drives me bazoo: the Australian accent article is bigoted, sloppily non-academic horsefeathers: http://www.arrantpedantry.com/2015/11/04/the-drunk-australian-accent-theory/

Patti Phillips said...

Once upon a time, I received a request for a full from a top NY agent. I was so excited that I agreed to an exclusive. After six months of silence, the excitement had worn off, so I nudged oh, so gently. The polite response was, "It's on my nightstand." Excitement bubbled up and I waited another two months. By this time, I had begun to wonder if perhaps his nightstand had a pile of other MS covering mine or if he had spilled an evening beverage all over it, thereby ruining my chances at the NYT bestseller list for all time. (Logic had left the building)

After reading the blog today, I realize that what I did next may seem crazy. I withdrew the exclusive and thanked him for his time. He was incredulous and wondered why I would do such a thing, giving his standing in the biz and the fact that he had started to read it. My thinking was that if he had not finished reading it in eight months and wasn't raving about how fabulous it was, then either the book needed work or we weren't a good fit.

In actual fact, the book did need work and sits on a shelf somewhere while I work on other, better projects. The agent left the biz about a year later, unhappy with the publishing world and maybe unhappy with crazy woodland creatures. I have since learned to be waaaaay more patient.

John Frain said...

Patti,

Eight months may not be a long time for a typical full request. But for an exclusive? Eight months is a WAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY long time. I think you did the right thing.

The only other alternative you might have explored was letting him know his exclusivity had a time limit instead of withdrawing the submission. But as it turned out, history also shows you made the right call.

Keep writing the new one. You're a better person and a better writer for the experience.

Allison Newchurch said...

John F, I'll get right on it. Now what genre would that fit into, do you think?

Patti Phillips said...

John F: I'm certainly a smarter writer from the experience.

Singing queries? Humming synopses?

Does Her Sharkness have a filter for all that music? ;-)