Sunday, February 21, 2016

WIR 2/21/16

In last week's review, Mister Furkles asked:

Would you have not represented a client with novels like Father Andrew Greeley's?

I'm assuming this question was about my statement that I wouldn't work in the Christian market since I don't know enough about it.

Here's a link for  those of you who don't know the books of Father AndrewGreeley. I read the mysteries he wrote in the '80s starting with  The Cardinal Sins. These books were not "Christian fiction" although they did involve a cast of characters who were ordained clergy. These books were published and sold as mystery novels.

Christian fiction has certain parameters that involve redemption and faith. I think another requirement is that Christianity be seen in a positive light only. (Again, I'm not well-versed on this) I haven't read Father Greeley's novels in more than two dozen years but just glancing at the description, I'd say his novels really don't qualify as Christian fiction. 

If you disagree or have a more informed opinion on this, I'll be glad to hear it. 

The answer to your question however is no, I wouldn't have taken those books on, but not because they are Christian fiction. I don't take on any books about the Church. As a side note, I was both astonished and delighted to find one of the priests of my parish was a devoted fan of Charlaine Harris, and quite agog that I'd met her. The priest was an amazing guy, from Poland, now here, and reading genre fiction in English.

On Monday the blog came in two parts: (1) The Quiz (2) The answers

In the comment trail to blog post one mhleader said
Personally, I'd go with CHOICE #2 for all three scenarios. I'd make it a limited-time request (one week? two at most). I'd IMMEDIATELY email the other agents, explain that I have an offer for representation, and give them (slightly less) time to respond if they are also interested. (So, if I ask agent #1 for 2 weeks to think about it and investigate, I'd give the other agents with full mss. maybe 10 days.)

I should remind everyone that an offer (at least from me) is good for about a week. That means you give the other agents about five days to read.

There's a reason for this: I don't want to sit around while a potential client shops my offer for more interest and more agents in the scrum. My assumption when you query me is that if I offer, you want me as your agent. I understand you've done multiple submissions and support that. I hope you get multiple offers too.

I've seen authors query additional agents with "hey I have an offer but I didn't get a chance to query you yet so can you get back to me in a week" leaving the agent who offered (and read the manuscript in a timely manner) sitting around tiddling her winks.

If an author says two weeks, I say "you've got one" and if the author says "I need two" I say "you've got one" and if the author then says "well, I still need two" I say "the offer expires in a week. Use that information as you will."

And just so you know: that happens with offers from publishers as well. When I get an offer for a book I have time to notify the other editors, but it's days not weeks and if the other editors don't get back to me in time, it's toodle-loo.

Hermina Boyle asked:
1) Wouldn't you be telling agents at the 'sending out full manuscript' stage that you are sending fulls out to other agents?

a) Wouldn't some agents prefer to have an exclusive review and would pass on your manuscript if they knew it would be considered by other agents?
b) Telling an agent that others are considering your full would also bump up the priority on your manuscript, I think?
1: yes, you can. I don't ask about other agents reading until I get to the point of considering representation. Multiple submission is the norm these days.

1a: Exclusives Stink. Don't grant them. If an agent wants an exclusive, say no.

1b: no, it doesn't, at least not with me. That strategy is used too often by the unscrupulous (which of course you are not) to be effective any more.

And E.M.Goldsmith screwed her courage to the sticking place and asked:
At risk of being chased back to Carkoon, if any of these scenarios occur, would it be bad form to email Janet and ask if she knows the agent? Just to make sure the agent is, you know, real and not some jellyfish with a reputation for hanging writers and their dreams out to dry? Or is that a no-no.
No no no. No No NO. Really no. If I learned that some agent with a blog was privately emailing readers with assessments of other agents, I'd make sure my colleagues knew and we'd spend about a week laughing at such hubris.
Here's the reason why: I don't know who will be the best agent for you. I can give you questions to ask, but the answers are what you need to assess.

The best source of information on what agents are like with clients can be found on AbsoluteWrite. There's also information like this on QueryTracker. Other authors are your best source on this.
(Any comments trashing Absolute Write will be deleted. Calm, reasonable discussion is ok, of course, but venom is verboten.)

And Colin Smith really likes to stir the pot, he does:
"Okay, Janet, Jessica, Barbara, you've all offered representation, and I really don't know which to choose. So tell me, why should I pick you over your other two colleagues?"

I'm not saying I WOULD do this, or that this would be the right thing to do. But it would be fun to see how agents would vie for a client like this.

You might be surprised to find two of the three of us telling you that the third is the best fit. I've been in scrums where that has happened.  And if it was between BaPo and me, hell I'd call her and we'd discuss who wanted it more. If she did, I'd yield. Honestly Barbara is such a brilliant agent, and so good at her job I think you'd be insane not to choose her if she offered. Of course, don't tell her that, and if you quote me I'll deny it completely.

BJ Muntain asked
When you say "my conclusion is you signed with someone you preferred more than me"... What's the difference there if I were to give you time to read my manuscript and make an offer, yet chose another agent anyway? Then you'll *know* that I chose the other agent over you. And if I do, for some reason, wind up looking for an agent again, wouldn't the result be the same?

The difference is I had a chance to get in the game. That's a fair fight. Maybe I suggested editorial changes and another agent said it was fine to go on submission now. I can certainly see why I'd lose in that choice.

I don't mind can live with losing in fair fight. I don't like not being allowed to play.

John Frain asked:
So help me understand the difference between:

Option 2) Dear You, another agent just recognized my brilliance and wants to rep me. You have 7 days to come back with a better offer

(Five days later after you offer)... Sorry, I'm sticking with agent 1, but thank you for getting back to me.


Option 3) Dear You, another agent just recognized my brilliance and wants to rep me. To save you the time of reading my manuscript, I'm withdrawing it from consideration at this time. Thank you for your interest.

In both options, if I have to go back a year later and query again because things didn't work out, it seems you'd remember me as something less than Shiny Prospective Client because in both cases you're not the one I wanted the first time around.

To me, I didn't waste your time in Option 3 and I didn't actually reject you as I did in Option 2.

For starters there's no "better offer" --all offers here are for the same thing: representation. Second, as I said to BJ above, I'd rather lose after being in the game, than not be in the game at all.

Three and most important: your job is not to worry about wasting my time. In fact, please stand up, find a nerf bat and bop yourself on the noggin six times for that statement. I am in charge of my time management. YOU ARE NOT.

My goal is to find great novels to sell and make authors rich and famous. Your goal is to write that novel. If I think you're brilliant, at least let me tell you so.

Then John Frain doubled down with this:
Okay, so we can pretty much agree that the obvious answers were 2-2-2. Not much mystery there, right?

So let's play contrarian for a moment.

Anyone in business has this happen to them. A company is told they have to go out to bid on a project. They know who they're going to choose. They decided before the bid process. But procurement requires them to get three bids.

So they put the job out to bid, even though in reality they really don't. What they effectively do is make two companies jump through hoops, spend resources of time and money, and then award the contract to the very people they originally planned to. Because they chose Option 2.

That seems to be the accepted way here in America.

I propose that unless you're actually entertaining a reality where you might choose someone else to award your business, it's unethical to go out to bid. If you already know you're going to award your business to a firm (let's call this firm Dream Agent, Inc.), then you're being unethical by requiring two other firms to go through the process of responding under the assumption that they have a chance to win the bid. You should instead award the business to your selected firm (Dream Agent, Inc.) and if other firms come calling, then be real about it: tell them not to waste their resources on a bid they can't win.

A couple years down the road, when the contract comes up for bid again (or, say, you have a different manuscript to offer) and you're no longer happy with Dream Agent, Inc. then you can go out to bid with those other firms and tell them they have a realistic shot at winning your business. This would be Option 3 as I read it.

I think both Option 2 and Option 3 are both polite and ethical depending on the reality of your situation. I also believe the earth can be flat or round and Schrodinger's Cat has 18 lives depending on where I find myself at the moment.

John, your logic lapse here is epic. I mean EPIC. As a writer, you're not sending out requests for bid and awarding a contract. That implies a certainty that simply isn't true.  As many of your fellow blog readers will attest: querying is not a sure thing. A requested full is NOT a bid. (I got an email last week that said "I've chosen you to be my literary agent" and after I laughed, I sent a rejection note cause that kind of naivete is just plain worrisome in a potential client.)

I signed three new clients last year out of  THOUSANDS of queries and almost a hundred requested fulls.
I turn down publishable work.
We're not getting bids on fixing your furnace here. I think the nerf bat might need a couple more applications.

MaggieMcT said:
In the example given if I know that there is no possible way I would go with anyone but the offering agent, I would not be comfortable playing games with the other agents.
I can't discourage you enough from this kind of thinking.

Until you've actually talked with an agent, heard her ideas for revision, and for the rest of your career, there's no way you should decide she's the only one you'll sign with. And honestly it's better for you to hear MANY opinions on these topics. At this stage, you guyz don't know enough about the rest of the process to know if one agent's answers are the right ones. The best way to figure that out is to hear many answers not one. Some of what we say will be new to you.

And it's not "playing games" to do this. Multiple offers is a daily occurrence here. Frankly, I'd much rather sign someone who has had multiple offers and made a choice than someone blindly assuming I'm all that and a bag of chips. REALLY.

Lucie Witt asked:
Hybrid publishing is interesting. When established authors write novellas and self pup connected to their published works, or put free short stories on their websites, I always wonder if they have to get publisher permission or run it through their agent? (Tiffany Reisz is an example - she has an eight book series but puts free stories on her blog that generally take place between books)

It depends on her publishing contract. My clients who do this talk to me about it first so we can stay on the right side of our contractual obligations. That means there's no one right answer.

E.M.Goldsmith asked:
I have seen that some publishers, even a couple big ones like Tor/Forge, are open to unagented submissions. I would not do this myself, but what happens with the author that splits the difference and goes to a traditional publisher directly without an agent? Can they get an agent with publishing deal in hand or do agents become wary of these writers? Does publisher treat them differently than a writer with an agent. What if their sales are middling or low? Does that hurt their chances of future representation or publication? Do they really save anything financially by going it alone? I imagine they really don't. But I could be wrong.

I do know several agents who've taken on clients who had deals in hand. The earlier in the process that happens the better. That means you don't say yes to the publisher till you secure an agent.

If that happens to you here's what you do: Query as you would normally except your subject line changes: RE: Query for Title -Publication offer from X Publisher received.

In the query you'll tell me which publisher and editor has made the offer and what your time line is. A lot of publishers will give you some time to secure an agent. They LIKE working with agents (surprised to hear that?)  

I respond to those queries as soon as I get them. I don't know how other agents handle it.

On Wednesday we talked about how to reference #MSWL in a query

#MSWL is a Twitter hashtag for manuscript wish list. It's a way for agents and editors to talk about what they really want to see right now.

Amelia Creed said
PS: I've noticed my queries with #MSWL in the subject line not only get a faster reply, but they tend to have a higher success rate. Of course, the sample's a bit too small to give a definitive answer.

I don't participate in #MSWL so I don't have any stats to offer, but this makes sense to me. I know I jump on things I'm looking for much more quickly than I do the general incoming queries. In my case "things I'm looking for" means history and biography. Queries for non-fiction get read much faster than queries for fiction.

On Thursday we revisited the evergreen topic of waiting time: specifically how long should you have to wait if you're a client.

I advised writers to get off the rodent wheel, but Amy Schaefer took issue with that:
Janet, you're missing the fact that the rodent wheel of panic is where writers get their ideas. We are champion over-thinkers for good reason. Sure, the anxiety-related side effects are horrendous, but it's worth it for that aha! moment we need on every page. 
Well, ok then. I always thought you got your ideas on the Wells Fargo wagon,

or  from those helpful souls who offered them to you if you'd do the writing and then you'd split the profits.

And this from Bethany Elizabeth gave me the chills:
It's such a real issue at my workplace that new hires are required to take a class on badgering. Yes, a real class. We learn how to badger. Aggressively.

Well, to be fair, first you start out as passive aggressive. One email, two emails, then a phone call (this can vary by urgency). Then another email with the first two emails attached. Then you go to their office or wait outside a meeting. Then you send them ANOTHER email and cc their manager.
Please don't come to my office! YIKES!
And please don't email anyone you think might be my manager. (I don't have one)

Donnaeve said
"At the beginning especially, I would like an agent who will email/text me periodically just to say "Hi, how's it going?"

Hey Colin, that happened all of twice for me in that first year when my debut was on submission. A "you haven't jumped off a bridge yet, have you" kind of email. And then a "hang in there!" I was, by the fingertips. :)

But more to that, I think agents tend to leave clients alone for the most part - unless they call to tell them they've sold the book, or want to discuss contract terms, or are discussing the next project. There could be other little biz tidbits they might contact you with, but honestly, you can count on months of nothing...b/c we're supposed to be producing the next magic thing they can sell. A "check in" email even once every three months could be perceived as "are you done yet?" or "Can you write faster?" Least that's how I'd view it.

This is one of the reasons Twitter and Facebook are valuable to me: I can talk to my clients very informally, or listen too, just as informally. Twitter was how I knew not to bug one of my clients: she posted pictures of the 48 inch snowfall in her front yard.

Or that a client's beloved pet has died. Or when there's a reference to a big life event, happy or sad.
For all it's crazy, Twitter has real value for that kind of low-key connection.

On Friday we have the writing contest. Results to be posted on Monday.
S.D. King asked:
Colin, on the spread sheet, what are the extra winner columns for? I am guessing that finalists can enter their entries? Perhaps this could be a shared Google Sheet where others could edit?

The extra winner columns are because there are multiple winners sometimes. Finalists do not enter their own entries. This is not a shared sheet with multiple editors. I like Colin. Multiple editors is a recipe for crazy. Please do not ask me for specifics on how I know this.

Thanks to all the blog readers who provided questions and comments for the round up this week. Even you who needed a nerf bat applied to your noggin. It's always interesting to see what you're thinking.  I appreciate your willingness to swim with the shark!

Subheader noms:
It's just like life: into every hashtag, a little dross must fall.--DLM

Been coming here for years, been writing for decades, been a smart ass know it all, all my life and today, I learned something. --CarolynnWith2Ns

The Slush Pile Café--E.M. Goldsmith

 HELLO. My name is unagented writer. You killed my query. Prepare to sigh.--Christina Seine


Anonymous said...

Great week in review as always. It catches me up on the things I missed and somehow, I always miss a lot.

A "check in" email even once every three months could be perceived as "are you done yet?"--

This made me pause a little. The children's book agent I had used to check in periodically to let me know how submissions were going, editor comments, and even see how the writing was going. I never took it as a "write faster" nudge. Of course, we had more than one book on submission and one book revising.

I love Christina's subheader.

Good job to all and thank you to Janet.

Brian Schwarz said...

Can I just say thank you to John Frain for being contrarian and asking questions that needed to be asked to help all of us? I mean, I was confident in the 2,2,2 of the quiz, but I wasn't necessarily fully aware as to why those answers were most logical. A small writerly part of me still needed a nerf bop on the head. Message recieved Janet.

SiSi said...

The WIR always adds to the great blogs during the week. Thanks to my fellow Reiders for asking questions I don't even think of, and of course thanks Janet for giving us the answers!

Amy Schaefer said...

I enjoyed the in-depth discussion of the 2-2-2 quiz. Finding an agent is great, but finding the right agent is so much better. Take the time to talk to prospective agents - about your MS, your career path, how often you like to check in. Don't limit your options; choose someone compatible.

Enjoy your Sunday, woodland creatures! My plans to take my girls ice skating have been foiled by the warm weather, but a muddy walk through the woods will be just as fun.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am clearly too attached to Janet. If only I could get her to love fantasy. I get it, and I will not ask Janet for a reference when the call comes. As well-informed as this blog keeps me, there will be no need. I will have done my due diligence.

On the sub-header, funny story. I went to the Atlanta Writing Workshop yesterday where I met Penny Moore for 2nd time(she works at Fine Print with Janet). I happened to have drawn up business cards for the Slush Pile Cafe. We were told to bring business cards to this workshop. I actually would love to open one for writers and readers alike. Anyhow, I gave Penny a couple so she could give one to Janet. I hope I didn't scare Penny. She's so bright, articulate, and brilliant. Are all of you agent types that sharp? I guess with all that reading, they can't help but be so knowledgable and well-spoken. I learned so much from the 1st page critique workshop even though the agents did not get to my first page.

I wanted to give Penny a corgi and cupcake because she was so kind and I was so nervous (I have always been socially phobic), but I guess that's not really allowed so I gave Penny the business cards instead. I hope Janet gets a kick out of it and doesn't cast me to the outer rings of Carkoon. I am also kale phobic.

Anyhow, I love Christine's sub-header- so funny. And I am such a fan of The Princess Bride. Although, once more, there really should be a slush pile cafe.

Great WIR. Missed contest this week- workshop and obsessing over query, but can't wait to see the results. So many of you are getting way, way too good at these flash fiction things. I don't know how Janet will manage to pick a winner.

nightsmusic said...

Thanks for a great WIR. Your clarifications are much appreciated as always. :)

And I vote for The Slush Pile Cafe. I want to sit there and write. Of course, I have to get the two dobermans out of my lap first...

Lennon Faris said...

EM, a part of me wishes Janet represented fantasy too. Then there's a part that likes this community separate from all that 'real life' writing/ publishing angst. I like coming here and just learning stuff for fun. Then, back in the fake-real world of my writing life, I buckle down and apply it.

I'm curious if anyone has ever turned down an offer from an agent that seemed decent but didn't quite fit their 'wow I'm in love' category? Esp. if it is near the beginning of their search? Not sure if it would be more naive to say yes or no. This hasn't happened to me, but all this discussion on what-if scenarios has gotten me thinking.

Thanks for the WIR, Janet. I like the Slush Pile Cafe, but... Princess Bride! I'm not normally a cross-dresser but I admit I was Inigo for Halloween.

D. B. Bates said...

Please don't come to my office! YIKES!

I did that once (not to you, obviously). I would not recommend it as a strategy to any writer, unless the goal is to go from a slow "yes" to a quick "no."

I love "The Slush Pile Café."

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

DLM's quote amuses me, because I'm playing Fallout 4 (....again, still, whatever...) and one of the songs you can listen to on one of the radio stations includes the lines (chorus?) "into each life some rain must fall, but too much is falling in mine".

However, I do like the Slush Pile Café, where my work perpetually resides. (I've had a sub at Clarkesworld for the longest ever [17 days! I've had same-day rejections from Clarkesworld. I call it a "palate cleanser" after I've waited eight months for form from a place like {which is no longer accepting shorts. I've got one there too, from before the closure. sigh.}] and am trying not to read into it, because it means nothing unless it's actually an acceptance). At the library, we've discussed how nifty it would be to add a café, but we haven't the space for it in our current digs.

nightsmusic, maybe the Slush Pile Café could be pet friendly? Or offer individual high walled booths, so we might write (and be Doberman draped) in partial privacy. I'd comment about the absence of dog hair, but really, I apparently carry Elka hairs with me, which are nearly indiscernible from eyelashes, and find them at work, where she's been only twice after hours for the holiday party.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Of course The Slush Pile Cafe is pet friendly. Jennifer and Night, bring your furry 4-legged friends. My pug, Frankie, insists. She must be with me and Elka and Dobermans and loner cats. Might have to pass on my neighbor's son's anaconda - it might swallow one of the loaner cats or a mountain lion and that would be bad. Wouldn't it?

Anonymous said...


"I'm curious if anyone has ever turned down an offer from an agent that seemed decent but didn't quite fit their 'wow I'm in love' category?"

Yes, when I was young and stupid. I went with agents in Texas because they gushed over my work and they were in TEXAS!!!! On the other hand, the other was in NY and liked the story, but felt it needed work.

Wow, who wants to actually work even if it is with an agent who seems to have all their ducks in a row?

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas, even stupidity.

LynnRodz said...

I'm at the airport so this will be short and sweet. Janet, you say exclusives are a no-no, but I would be afraid to say no to an agent who is interested in my work, more so if no other nibbles have come in. I would find it easier to say, "No, I'm sorry, on Janet Reid's blog she advices against it." Would that be wrong to say?

It's not the same as E.M.'s scenario. I'm not asking you to do anything, I'm simply taking wisdom from your blog that everyone has access to.

Gotta go, thanks again for the WIR.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

My subheader nom'd two weeks in a row. It must be something in the water. Thank God I don't live in Flint.

Great WIR.
Well, I guess I won't be emailing Janet when an agent emails. Besides literary agents I assume you mean real estate agents too and FBI agents. How about insurance agents and cleaning agents? Okay I'll stop now.
No one can take me away from my Comet anyway.

RKeelan said...

LynnRodz: I'm a long way away from querying for my WIP, to say nothing of talking to agents, so this is far easier for me to say than it would be to actually do. But if someone asks for exclusives and you're going to say no, you should say no because the reasons Janet gave were persuasive, not because she said so. Accordingly, if you want to justify refusing an exclusive (maybe not a bad impulse), you should justify with those reasons, not Janet's name.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks again for the WiR, Janet, and for answering my question.

I vote for 2Ns' subheader nom.

DLM said...

It's an honor just to be nominated! But my vote goes to Christina - Inigo references are always a grin.

EMG, I'm a bit like Lennon here. I've come to look at loving Janet but not really writing the right thing to hope for her as my agent this way (and this goes for all the agents I read and follow online): it's not a matter of not having home, it's freedom from disappointment. I mightily respect Janet, Jessica, Barbara, and so on - and I write in a genr that is somewhat narrowly represented these days. So I'm freed of worrying about impressing most agents on social media, and I can learn and enjoy the community we all participate in.

Gossamer the Editor Cat loooooves The Slush Pile Cafe'. But Penelope is looking for a clerk job at that Reider community gift shop and emporium we've also mentioned!

Colin Smith said...

Lovely wonderful excellent WiR, Janet! Oh to be a fly on the wall when you are having an agent scrum!! And can we all call Barbara Poelle BaPo? And why does that make me think of the Marx Brothers (Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Bapo)? :D

"I don't take on any books about the Church." I thought this an interesting and insightful comment. I don't need to know why, just the fact that there are themes you will not deal with even in genres you represent. I'm sure the same is true for other agents, but you wouldn't know from #MSWL or even their websites.

Now, about the contest spreadsheet.
* Yes, the additional "winner" fields are there because sometimes Janet can't pick a single winner, or for some other reason the contest demanded more than one winner. So far we've had no more than five winners.
* I will try to keep it up-to-date (so expect an updated version in the Treasure Chest sometime after Janet posts the results from this weekend's contest.
* If you want to maintain your own version of the spreadsheet for your own personal records, go for it. Take it and make it your own. I have a version that includes my own contest entries.
* If you discover any errata, especially if you come across a writing contest I haven't included (see the next point), please let me know. Also contact me if you have any trouble downloading it or any other technical issues with it. This is really important, so I will bold and italicize (sorry, Janet): Janet is NOT RESPONSIBLE for maintaining the Treasure Chest, so DON'T CONTACT JANET WITH ISSUES. I created the Treasure Chest as a way for us to share docs and stuff without Janet having to run tech support on her Dropbox. Email me with your thoughts, ideas, issues, etc.
* The Writing Contests I've included are those contests where a) the contest and entries are written (i.e., they are not pictorial)--so no caption contests, and no book title poetry contests, and b) the entries are posted in the comments of a blog article, not emailed.

I think that covers everything. :)

Jessica Snell said...

I haven't read Greeley, but it sounds like he might be similar to someone like Susan Howatch or Ellis Peters (or, y'know, even Jan Karon!): their characters are Christians, even monks or clergy, but their books are written to the general market.

(I'd say folks like Graham Greene and Flannery O'Conner would be in this category, too, if you want to go further back in time.)

Christian writers, Christian readers, Christian characters, the Christian publishing industry <-- you could make a very complicated Venn diagram out of all of these groups. It would *not* just be a simple matter of laying identical circles one on top of the other. (Esp. when it comes to the Christian publishing industry. It's got good aspects and tricky aspects, but it is certainly its very own particular entry in the bestiary of publishing.)

LynnRodz said...

RKeelan, I don't think you realize the weight Janet's name plays in the world of agents. If I say no I can't give you an exclusive because blah, blah, blah. Said agent may say, well sorry, I only do exclusives from the slush pile.

But, if I say, I can't grant you an exclusive for these reasons and JR's blog also advices against it. How can the agent argue against the Shark when they know darn well she's the QOTKU.

Christina Seine said...

Oh my goooooooosh! =D I just hopped on the computer on this dark and dreary day and saw the subheader. Thank you Janet! I feel so honored. ♥ Squeee!

We were supposed to get 8-12 inches of snow last night and this morning, and instead we got rain. heaps of it. Don't get me wrong, I love a good storm, but when it falls over frozen ground you get a lot of ice ballet and ditch diving on the roads. Blech.

I *love* the Slush Pile Cafe! It should be in Alaska though, because we are all about slush from now until about May. Actually, there is a small independent publisher who is crowdfunding a Writers' Block Cafe in Anchorage. Hope it's okay if I post the link here: Because there is no such thing as too many bookstores or cafes. Or publishers!

This week had a lot of really nuanced subjects. I loved the 2-2-2 quiz, because I so smugly thought I knew the answer, and yet there was much more discussion to be had.

I really do think I should add "...and I have been a long-time reader of Janet Reid's blog" to all queries I send out. I can imagine agents reading that and thinking, "Thank God!"

Have a great week, everybody!

Theresa said...

Another great WIR. I especially liked all of the additional information on the 2-2-2 quiz.

My vote is for Christina's subheader. As usual, though, they each speak to something important.

Lance said...

This post constitutes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the publishing kingdom. For this we owe a debt of gratitude that far exceeds the capacity of even the most elevated woodland creature to repay. Be ever mindful of the multitudes who are even now assembling words into stories, but who are blindly flailing about without benefit of the wisdom and guidance of the QOTKU.

Claire said...

I'm with RKeelan, LynnRodz - as weighty as Janet's name undoubtedly is in the AgentSphere, passing the buck to a higher authority always weakens your own argument. Besides, I don't think you need to give a reason at all. "No, I'm sorry, I cant offer you an exclusive, but I will certainly inform you immediately if I get an offer of representation from another agent."

Love the new subheader!

Lisa Bodenheim said...

And now my Sunday feels replete. Thank you, Janet. And I'm looking forward to the upcoming week.

And congrats Christina, on the blog subheader of the week.

LynnRodz said...

Claire (and RK) you do realize that this was said tongue in cheek, don't you? Maybe not. Listen, I would love to continue this conversation but I'll be flying over the ocean for the next 7 hours so there will be silence from me. Sorry.

Kae Ridwyn said...

Thank you, Janet, for yet another comprehensive WIR. They are so appreciated! (I know I write this every week, but it's true!) I learn SO much, and yet there are always bits that I miss, so to have it all wrapped up in a neat package is such a blessing. Thank you!

And I vote for Christina's subheader nom. It cracks me up each time I see it!

Have a great week, everyone! And happy writing :D

Anonymous said...

Love the subheader. Can't go wrong with TPB.

The use of "certainly" here made me laugh:

"Maybe I suggested editorial changes and another agent said it was fine to go on submission now. I can certainly see why I'd lose in that choice."

But my first reaction was to gasp and say, "THAT'S SO WRONG." I'd be wary of an agent who had no suggestions to improve my work. In fact, that's when I'd ask whether they read the entire thing.

My kudos to John as well, for being the contrarian. We all gained additional insight to the thought process as a result. Oh, and thanks, Janet, for the clarification that your offer to rep is good for one week. Don't think I've seen you mention that before.

Wishing all of you a creative and productive week ahead!

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

There are some topics certain agents won't handle because Reasons.

I know of one agent who will not read subs if they feature mermaids because mermaids freak her out. A su cada.

John Frain said...

'Twas a pleasure to read. I shan't be tripling down as I know when I'm wrong ... eventually. I do wish to make one note: I didn't intend to make the argument that a query or a full is a certainty. Not a chance I'd ever think that. I was basing my response on the premise that your Dream Agent offered representation (not merely requested a full) and, therefore, in this scenario your Dream Agent was a certainty. I have immense respect for the difficulty of putting together a query and even more respect for my fellow blog readers. My respect for Janet knows no bounds. (Apparently my idiocy knows no bounds sometimes either, so I'm not sure if I just gave the compliment I intended.)

Other than that, I like the idea that -- out of context, anyway -- I'm epic. Nay, EPIC!

Brian & KD, thank you for the kind support. I would loan you my Nerf bat, but alas, it's torn and tattered from overuse. Also, I regret that I'll likely be needing it again a week from now.

John Frain said...

One thing I neglected to mention was to thank Colin for the contest winner chart on the Treasure Chest page.

I'm sure creating that took a fair amount of time, Colin, so thanks for your efforts. And for maintaining it as well. My next stop: going back in time to look in on the 5-winners contest. That must have had some incredible entries!

The idea of a Treasure Chest page is making me think, and I'll let you know on your blog if I come up with any ideas. Besides, who doesn't like more visitors to their blog whatever the reason.

Donnaeve said...

I haven't had time to read all the comments, but wanted to drop in to say THANK YOU for the lovely WIR!

And big thanks to Colin for his work on the Treasure Chest SS.

And great to see a bunch of new names (I think???) in the contest, which I haven't read all of those yet either! Been a little crazy here with a quadruple b'day celebration! Four birthdays = UTTER CHAOS for hours! I'm still cleaning frosting off the hardwood floors.

Colin Smith said...

John: I'm trying hard to scotch that idea of a "Dream Agent" (or should that be whiskey here?). There are a handful of agents that, to me, seem like the most awesome people to have on my team (so to speak). But Janet's right. The best agent for you is the one that has the best vision for your book, and is most excited about you and your career. S/he's the one you resonate with, and answers all your questions the way you hoped, and maybe challenges you to think bigger and better. And that agent may not even be on your list yet. In fact, you may not know that agent until you talk.

And about the spreadsheet--you are all welcome. It's something I've been wanting to do for myself for a while, but it occurred to me that others may enjoy seeing the contest history, and also being able to read all those past winners. That really spurred me on to finish the job.

About the Treasure Chest--it's not just for the spreadsheet. If you have notes from a conference you want to share, or a presentation, or some other spreadsheet or digital whatever (no dongles, please) you think will be of writerly help to everyone here, just email me and I'll be glad to include it in the Chest.

Colin Smith said...

Oh, one more thing about the Treasure Chest page, as an FYI. This is a webpage. It's not part of my blog, so I don't get any blog hits off of it. Also this is the only place I've linked to it, since it is a sort of community thing. I don't object if you want to share with others who may not be regulars to Janet's blog. Maybe it'll encourage them to join the fun? Or it may confirm to them that you're certifiably loony. ;)

Janice L. Grinyer said...

Thank you, Janet, on the informative WIR; I was able to catch up this week :)

Anything from Princess Bride, even a well mangled, well-intentioned quote is definitely worth a sub-header! Yay Christine; you would make Inigo proud!

AJ Blythe said...

As always, bowing to QOTKU for her WiR. Of late it's been hard to find the time to be here everyday other than to skim, so I appreciate the catch up (the internet was down for hours earlier so very glad I can still get my weekly fix).

Colin, I haven't been to the Treasure Chest but I know it will be awesome so thank you for what you are doing. I'll pop over in just a sec =)

Janet, I have taken a leaf out of other Reiders' comments and have started a QOTKU Rule Book. Today I have filled half a page. I imagine after I transfer all my notes from the random bits of paper stuck around my office I will have half filled the book. Your dedication to helping aspiring authors like myself in your free time is amazing.

First time a shark's been considered salt of the earth!

Colin Smith said...

AJ: That "rule book" sounds like the kind of thing you could share with everyone in the Treasure Chest, if you want. Just a thought... :)

Dena Pawling said...

Are you saying if I paid one of your clients $10,000, s/he [I still hate the singular “they”] would take my idea and write the book, and we'd split the profits?

I'll remember that if I get too depressed with querying.

>>If I think you're brilliant, at least let me tell you so.

I love this line.

We've had five days of spring-like weather, and starting tomorrow we're back to summertime 90+ degrees. Someone tell me where El Nino went, because it sure didn't stop by here. And it's FEBRUARY! I'm almost afraid of what our summer will look like.

Great WiR. I hope everyone has a great week.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I really enjoyed this week in review. I learned a lot this week, and reviewing it will help it all stick. Another tactic often employed by my workplace!

To be fair, I wasn't planning on ever employing my workplace badgering skills to any other aspect of my life. :) But now you mention it, my brother DOES need to be badgered to respond to my emails... Maybe I should show up on his doorstep next time? Or better yet, cc mom on the email. Ha.

And I vote Christina for subheader (do we vote? Is that how this works?), although the Slush Pile Cafe is a great idea.

Gary Corby said...

Re the Christian question...

If you haven't read G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown stories, then this would be a good moment. He's a fine example of how to do it right.

It's worth noting that the first historical mysteries ever written all had a Christian setting: the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters! Those books turned English cathedrals into the mediaeval murder capital of the world.

Panda in Chief said...

Did someone say frosting? I'll be right over, Donna. long has it been on the floor and did anyone walk in it?

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Wow, a reading recommendation by Gary Corby. I've added Father Brown mysteries to my list. I wonder if Mr. Corby is still on Tripod road.

Though I'm taking a pause from writing fiction, a pause that may last a lifetime, I'm still reading this blog and all the wonderful comments. I've learned so much here.

John, you are a real sport. To take the Queen's nerf bat like like a joker.

I want to add to the Dream Agent Myth. It is a myth. I can understand the bulldozing excitement a writer might have from receiving any call from an agent, especially their dream agent. I also know the burn from the bad relationship and the following disillusionment. Julie's Texan story says it all.

When I first moved to Paris I was obsessed with a certain gallery. I knew my paintings would look wonderful on their walls. Any painting would look good on those walls. My obsession was painful. I submitted to them over and over. Once they responded to me. Later, after I found another gallery, I met with one of Dream Gallery's artists at an art fair. I was surprised he sold his work en direct. I spoke with him and told him that said gallery was my dream. He said it had been his too, until they stopped pushing his work. They didn't want to "let him go" and by doing so, they blocked him from finding other representation. In the end he left them and began selling through art fairs. It's the equivalent leaving an agent and going on to self publishing. He makes more money but spends a hell of a lot more. The average cost of a stand at a four day art fair is 3 grand.

Janet has given many tools to help us through the woods but each individual knows their own path. What are your self-expectations? Make a list. Think of possible outcomes and your reactions.

Don't let your eyes glaze over from that Dream Agent Myth. Hold true to what you want.

LynnRodz said...

RKeelan and Claire, not sure if the two of you will see this, but I was frustrated that my wifi went off before I could clarify that my tongue in cheek comment was about my 2nd comment. I stand by what I said in my 1st. After having time to think about what the 2 of you said, you're right, I need to use Janet's wisdom in my decisions, but not her name in fighting my battles for me. In this case, standing up for myself and saying no to any exclusives. I won't lie, however, when I say it would be tempting to say yes when said agent is the only one showing interest.

(What did I tell you, Janet, about getting myself into trouble? Lol.)

roadkills-r-us said...

First off, thanks, Janet, for the link to the story of That Guy (who has ideas for your next novel). That alone made my day.

WRT Christian fiction, I love what Jessica Schnell had to say. I agree.
I think that to work in the larger Christian fiction market it helps to ultimately show Christ (and preferably the Church) in a good light. But a lot of people who buy CF are OK with that not being true throughout the book so long as it wraps up neatly. Ted Dekker is an example of an author who doesn't always do this. I need to read his earlier works to see how he gets away with it, but _Boneman's Daughter_ certainly offended some people with its ending. It may simply be that the Christian thriller market is so lame that readers will cut it some slack. Or maybe Ted just doesn't care about the types of readers who demand sanitized works. I, personally, don't read that much Christian fiction because (a) authors operate under too many constraints (whether imposed externally or internally) and (b) I've read too much that just wasn't that good.
I agree with Sturgeon that 90% of everything is crap.Sadly, It pains me to say it, but I think that in the CF world it's more like 95%.

[Note: I never set out to write CF children's short stories; they just naturally popped out when I was writing for an eight year old "daughter of the heart" dying of cancer. God was her whole world. Hopefully the stories aren't crap.]