Saturday, November 19, 2016

What you said, and what you really meant!

Writer: Hi Janet, Just checking in on my novel that you requested 90 days ago. Hope all is going well!

Translation: you said you needed 90 days. It's been 90 days. C'mon!!

Writer: Hi Janet, Wow, who knew summer could get here so soon! Hope you have a great vacation planned.  Just checking in on my novel sent 1/1/16!

Translation: Look at the calender you sloth! It's been six months! Twice as long as you said!

Writer: Hey Janet, I'll be away on vacation for the month of August, just in case you need to reach me.

Translation: I'm checking in to rehab after eight months of increasingly strange behaviour brought on by my anxiety waiting for you to read my novel!

Writer: Janet, just a quick note to say I'm back from vacation. Hope all is well with you!

Translation: Nine months and counting. I could have produced an entire human being, fully formed in the amount of time I've been waiting!

Writer: Snookums, Happy Thanksgiving!

Translation: Janet, you are a complete turkey for not reading my novel yet.

Writer: Dear Janet, I suddenly realized I need to revise the entire middle section of my novel. Can you put it aside till I send you a new version?

Translation: Thank god you're such a slow poke!

As we close in on the end of the year, I'm getting very deft writing in some very diplomatic notes from writers who've sent me requested fulls.  VERY!  In fact, it's some of the very best writing I see. I appreciate the panic you must be feeling at nudging me. (I nudge editors, I do know that anxiety quite well!)

It's very much ok to check in with me on requested fulls. One of these days, who knows, there might be a surprise different answer!

Translation: Hey Writer, I read your novel! I loved it!


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Road Runner - Beep beep!

Wile E. Coyote - WTF

Janet - Saturday morning cartoons hold truth.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

phrasing nudges is nerrrrrve wracking.

I nudged folks at a magazine lately, not an agent, but it took me a long time to phrase it so I didn't feel like I was brusque and accusatory; as a writer, I'm well aware of the waiting game (I just got my Tin House rejection, in fact. 405 days! But they sent me the "we look forward to seeing more of your work" form, not the other one I've gotten in the past. I'm just going to say "frag it" and rewrite that story as scifi, which I perhaps should've done to begin with).

The nudged party's reply was brief, though not angry, and indicated the story was still under consideration. Please allow me to fly apart in a bundle of agitated atoms.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

So things to do when a shark is sitting on your full request

1. Write another book
2. Query widely
2a. When Barbara Poelle also requests your full, make sure she knows the queen also has full request. This is called open try outs
3. Add a new wing to the World Domination Cloak Room
4. Write a 2nd additional book
5. Query some more
6. Start a Scotch distillery
7. Open a coffee bar
8. Compose a book of clever nudges
9. Stage a coup on Carkoon
10. Take Colin hostage
11. Catch up on TBR
12. Rinse and repeat

Theresa said...

Oh, E.M., just brilliant!

And Janet's final translation was a writer's dream in any language.

Donnaeve said...

I think, just like the "Reasons I said no to your ms," this just might be my new favorite QOTKU list!

Sometimes it's hard to remember, silence isn't no, it's just silence.

If you requested a full, and I'd not heard back, I'd be encouraged by this!

Do what E.M says. That list oughta keep ya busy.

Donnaeve said...

And I'm full of just this morning. The things I don't see until I hit publish.

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks, Janet and E.M., for my morning chuckles.

Donna, Just this morning I noticed and debated keeping a "just" in my current WIP. Just sayin', you're not alone.

Amy Johnson said...

Ack--I should have said, "Just sayin', it's not just you." I notice things after hitting publish too.

Julie Weathers said...

I despise nudging agents. The few times I have, it has never turned out well.

Beloved Agent: "I responded six months ago with a rejection. I loved the writing, but the story didn't quite grab me enough to request. I'm sorry our email is sometimes wonky."

What a diplomatic way of saying, "check your spam folder, dunderhead." It wasn't there either, but at least I knew and could cross her off.

Adored Agent: "We'll be passing, but thanks for the read."

Sainted Agent: "Of course I'm still interested!" followed by copious amounts of mea culpas. Sometime later followed by a very nice rejection.

I prefer to let sleeping dragons lie. As long as they haven't rejected, the dream is still alive. I'm naïve enough to believe I did everything right and the query got through in the first place. I don't nudge until I'm getting ready to do something radical.

What I do as Elise said, make a list and stay busy:

1. Keep writing.
2. Keep reading.
3. Blog (I'm behind on this as I am still fighting site issues and various other things, but I will be back on track after my return from glorious North Dakota.)
4. Research. It doesn't matter what I'm writing, I always research. When I was at the doctor's office last week I was reading a magazine that had an article about antique garden tools. That triggered a new addition to a scene I was working on. You just never know where neat research bits will show up.
5. Do something to make the world a better place.
6. Do something to make my world a better place.
7. Do something mindless. Currently, that is painting a ceramic chess set and getting ready to make tooled leather notebooks for Christmas.
8. Start a second or third project. Something that I can sink into when my mind hits a plot knot.

In other words, I don't watch the in box. That way lies madness. Once the query goes out, I put it out of my mind. It's no longer in my hands. I focus on things that are under my control.

Beth said...

Oooh, Julie, I wish I were on your Christmas list for one of those notebooks.

Love this post. And wouldn't the final sentence make a wonderful Christmas surprise for some diplomatic writer?

LynnRodz said...

Janet, I wish you had a "like" button.

Colin Smith said...

Since many of us care deeply about that writer-agent relationship, and not burning bridges, and not coming across like someone who adorns their head with their buttocks, it doesn't surprise me that you get a lot of elegantly-written nudge emails.

Elise: Fantastic to-do list! Though I would suggest if anyone wishes to kidnap me, they should take me somewhere where there are no boxes to unpack or walls to paint. Feed me fruit, chocolate, Newkie Brown (or Blue Moon), and give me plenty of good books to read and I'll be good. :)

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Hilarious... All of this.

E.M. I LOL'd.

I'd offer additional comment but I have to go check my inbox.

Robert Ceres said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
el el piper said...

I can't wait til I'm at the point when I'm nudging an agent who has requested a full. Thanks to Her Sharkness's awesome blog, I actually have a "nudging note" template. Woot!
And now, back to my Saturday AM writing time....

Ardenwolfe said...

Yeah, this writing shit ain't for the soft-hearted, that's for damn sure.

Robert Ceres said...

I just wanted to add that I've never gotten a rejection that wasn't perfectly polite. Many have been uplifting and helpful. I can only imagine, as Janet said, and given all that agents actually do for their clients, that responding to nudges is tough, and I suppose that sending rejections for fulls is even harder.

Mark Ellis said...

Once at a Willamette Writers meeting an elder gentlemen took the podium to announce that he had found an agent, and a publisher. Then he tried a little gallows humor, saying that the process of getting the book out was slow, and that "I might pass away before it happens." Only two people laughed in a room full of at least 100 people, me and my old writer pal Val, both of us approaching age sixty at the time.

Lennon Faris said...

Nudges, yuck. I almost wrote my first a month ago (3+ mo on a full) and then someone (BJ?) here mentioned that unless the site specifically said that, some agents prefer six months. So I'm still waiting and hoping I don't even have to go there.

EM - a little unclear on #12. Is that rinse with the Scotch? I'm hoping a whiskey sour can be subbed.

Well, it's finally a perfect writing day here - blustery winds, gray skies, and little spits of snow. Better make some coffee and open the WIP.

Megan V said...

Thank you Janet for today's post and thank you and OP for yesterday's post as well. It's nice to have the reminder, and it makes the journey in the trenches fell just a little less daunting.

Angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Dear Writer,
Keep on writing, keep on nudging. One day others will be nudging you. Tenacity helps realize your creative dream.


I'm not commenting but I'm lurking all the time. Sturgeon mode.

As Thanksgiving is soon, I want to thank Janet, yet again, for all the work she has put into this blog. Teaching us about publishing, contracts, and everything else. Recently I was nudged to sign a licensing contract. All the knowledge I've gleaned here helped immensly. A top IP lawyer who likes my work and likes to barter is helping me through the process.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin I am fairly sure I can ransom you for cake. Until I get that cake, you can organize my TBR bookshelf. You should be good at that:)

Lenon Rinse with whiskey or favorite recreational beverage is a given.

I forgot #13 which is, of course, snuggle with furry friends.

Craig F said...

Donna: It is not just just it is like just

I do want an agent to love my book. I would much prefer an agent that sells my book. When you requested there was like just a little breathing room in the thriller tank.If you had read like just four or five more pages a day we would have like just made it before it was like just a saturated market.

Donnaeve said...

Just let me say this, Y'all just crack me up.

John Davis Frain said...

"One of these days, who knows, there might be a surprise different answer!

Translation: Hey Writer, I read your novel! I loved it!"

Can you give a hint which day this might occur? I'll overnight a manuscript for arrival because, as someone said, timing is everything.
I thought of having Wile E. Coyote deliver the ms, but I'm not sure you'd ever receive it. He doesn't strike me as dependable.

Joseph Snoe said...

In my first round of queries, an agent I really wanted (or more precisely her assistant) sent a rejection email. I’m sure it was a form rejection letter but I appreciated receiving it. One sentence in it read

“Due to the enormous number of submissions we receive here at ___________, and an already crowded client list, we are forced to be extremely selective when considering new clients.”

In my head I translated it (and still remember it as saying):

“We’re a top level agency and only accept good writers, and you aren’t one of them.”

Anonymous said...

*snort* Thanks, Janet and everyone else, I [just] needed the laugh today.

This is one of the things I like about you, Janet. You know we're hopelessly neurotic and seem to tolerate us anyway.

[To all the experienced writers over here who I offended with my simplistic and pedantic comment yesterday (and I know I did), I hope you realize I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to the three, okay, two lurkers over there in that dusty corner -- yes, you, I see you there -- who are currently as clueless as I once was.]

MA Hudson said...

Is it ok to not nudge, or would mean that all the nudgier writers would jump ahead of you in the agents TBR pile?

MA Hudson said...

*would THAT mean that all the nudgier writers....