Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Too much of a good thing

Please help me NOT SCREW UP.

After the better part of a year of querying, I have reached the revise and resubmit stage with an agent who talked with me on the phone about the revisions she wants, and exchanged several e-mails with me about it. I just sent off the final, and am now waiting to hear.

Now for the problem. Just before the R&R happened for Project #1 (a comic mystery), I had just sent out the first queries for Project #2 (topical upmarket women's fiction). I don't want to ruin what may be my only actual chance at representation for #1, but I also don't want to wait on #2. Is it okay to resume querying on #2 while I wait? It feels like bad form, but I'm really excited about #2.

Yes, it's ok to query your second project while you wait for Agent Brilliant to read your revisions.

It is NOT bad form.

This is your career and you must keep it moving forward.

What would be bad form would be to sign with another agent for Project TUWF without letting Agent Brilliant know you have interest on another project or are even at the talking stage with an agent for something else.

In other words, if you get requests for fulls on TUWF, you give Brilliant a heads up.  Something akin to I've been querying a second project and have had several requests to read the fulls. I just wanted to keep you posted on this since you've got the full for Comic Mystery.  Yours very truly WriterProlific.

Any agent who expects you to sit on your paws and wait for her to reply has a severely warped view of her own importance.

That said, she is investing time in you and that should be treated with respect.

Bottom line: be straightforward and polite. That's never bad form.

49 comments:

Theresa said...

Great bottom line advice! Good luck OP.

MA Hudson said...

Way to go OP. Sounds like you've really hit your stride. Well done and good luck snagging the right agent.

I agree with Janet - when in doubt err on the side of politeness.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Always good advice. I am a little envious of how prolific of a writer to have two such different projects making their rounds. Well done, OP.

Daylight savings time has aligned with my dread day job and is kicking my butt. And slowing down my revisions. Help! I think I need to start main lining coffee.

Colin Smith said...

Way to go, Opie! Two novels in the loop and one of them under serious agent review? That's awesome! I have nothing to offer other than what Janet said. Be polite, and keep that communication channel open. I don't know about the rest of you, but this is one of those questions that kicks my beee-hind. Here Opie has two novels in the query trenches, and it's been over two years since I had one ready to go. Granted, I'm exploring the short story market at the moment, but still. And I don't mean "but still" in the British way (i.e., "I have no response to that rational argument"), but in the literal, "I may be exploring the short story market but still I should be cracking on with a novel too! Or don't I want to be a published writer? What's wrong with me?!"

Thanks for the reminder, Opie! :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Bottom line?

I always said, when I turn that "certain age" (I did a while ago) I would have AARP tattooed on my ass. (Haven't yet)
Now, I'll have "Be straightforward and polite." inked right next to it.

"That's never bad form." On my ass it probably is.

Have a nice day boys and girls.

Donnaeve said...

Congrats OP, on the invested interest with your work, and good luck as you pursue the other! I did a double take on "topical upmarket women's fiction thing though. I get upmarket women's fiction, but...topical? I guess this means a particular "topic of the day?" Topical in my head means something to be used on the skin, not ingested. :)

Anywho, what I love about the advice QOTKU dispenses is she makes it seem so easy and not a big deal. I mean, if I were OP and read this, I'd feel so much better! That's why the word "dispense" works here.

Ooooh. She's like the Query Doctor. Except, she's the Query Shark. But really, more like doctor - in that she takes the aches and pains away. Unless she gets peeved. Then the water gets a little churned up, and there might be some blood. And screaming.

Colin Did you by chance notice - and I know you did - the latest issue of Writer's Digest was focused on the short story market? Short stories are something that have never tweaked my interest as far as writing one. (I like reading them though!) Is your "delay" in finishing/polishing another work to do maybe with that FT job, moving - although it's been some months, the focus on your shorts (stories that is) and spending time with family? I mean, you know, not like your twiddling your thumbs all day...so, cut yourself some slack but get to it. :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: Yes, I did, and it's a good one. Barbara Poelle's column is exceptionally good in this edition of WD. And the articles on short stories are helpful and encouraging. (Way to go Ms. Strawser, and the rest of the WD team!). And yes... I might have a few other things going on in my life, though the house is less of an excuse these days since we've mostly moved in and settled. But I am spending time with the family, reading, studying, doing the day job, and all that. BUT STILL..! ;)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...


Oh Colin, reading all day, you are such a slacker :-)

OT, BTW what was the outcome for your daughter in NYC?

Amy Johnson said...

Congrats, OP! Sounds like you're in the middle of an exciting time.

I'm wondering what would happen in this type of scenario: While one project is being considered by an agent(s) (in this case, the comic mystery), the writer queries about a different type/genre of project at the same time (in this case, women's fiction). What would happen if the agent who requested the first project goes on to offer representation, but does not represent the second type of project? Do you hope someone else at the same agency does represent the second type? Should writers who write in two different genres only query agents who represent both genres?

OT: Donna, I'm a couple of days late telling you I'm so glad your mom is in her new place and that you're happy about it. :)

Jill Warner said...

I'm looking forward to the day when I can join OP with 2 query-ready pieces.

And Colin, I hear you about the behind-kicking! Mine gets kicked every time I hear about my friends finishing their first drafts when they started working on it after I did.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: I wish I could read all day! Too much other stuff to do.

Amy: This is the dilemma, isn't it? Janet may have more specific things to say, but based on past conversation, I think the general advice is to write the stories that are on your heart and worry about agents and genres later. It's not unheard of to have different agents for different genres, and as long as you communicate to interested parties during the querying process, usually some arrangement can be made if your books generate interest.

I just heard that one of the people we work with here at the day job lost his wife this past weekend. From what we can tell, it was a sudden death. She was 53. Talk about putting the sharp pointy attachment onto the kick...

Donnaeve said...

Amy Thank you - she's not quite there yet - we just closed on her new home when I gave that "update," but it's still exciting nonetheless! Her official move is March 27th. :)

Sherry Howard said...

Well, congrats, OP! Nice problem to have.

And thanks,QOTKU, for the wording example. I recently had to do all of that juggling on my YA, and it was exhausting.

I'll be in a similar position, I guess in a few months. Probably I'll send our queen an email then. A reputable publisher told me the current YA didn't have quite enough romance for their line, and instead of an R and R have asked me to write a new one in the same voice with dual POV and get it to them ASAP. So, soon I'll be needing to figure out if that means an exclusive submission to them on that book, although I guess not. I do have a lot of juggling going on, since I have picture books in the pipeline, too.

Colin, I've had some success with short stories in small lit mags and anthologies. I started with non-paying markets just to get some credits. I love the shorts! My biggest challenge though is a satisfying ending. SOOOO hard to do!

Claire AB. said...

Congratulations OP!!! It sounds like you're in a great position and are close to representation. Yay!! And thank you for that answer, Janet. I have two very different projects in Queryland, and while I certainly don't need to be wringing my hands like OP, being a woodland creature, that hasn't stopped me from worrying anyway. If I get as far as an R&R submission on either project and have fulls and partials out on the other one, I'll be sure to alert the R&R agent. I wouldn't have know to do that.

Fingers crossed for you OP! Hope to hear about a signing for both projects really soon!

BJ Muntain said...

*Sends a truckload of virtual coffee to EM, hoping it will help until she can drink enough of the real stuff.*

Amy Johnson: Regarding your question, it seems that is something you might bring up when you're talking to an agent about representation. If the agent is excited enough about Project #1, they may take on Project #2 as well. Or they may have someone in their agency who can do that. Chances are, they'll suggest you stick to one genre to begin with, but that may depend on the agent. It may be easier to only query agents who rep both genres, but if the genres are quite different, you're narrowing your net quite a bit there. You may run out. Basically: Do what feels right for your career.

Colin: I know what you mean about the 'sharp pointy attachment' on the kick to the behind. A couple weeks ago, my 58-year-old cousin had a fatal heart attack (I'm 52. This hit kinda close.) Last week, a young fellow in a Facebook writers group I belong to passed away - 28 years old. He had a long-standing condition, but still. Far too young. He never had a chance to finish his novel. I need to get moving on the 'getting published' thing.

AYL said...

A similar thing happened to Angie Thomas, author of The Hate U Give. She was querying a middle grade with little success. Then she started querying her YA. But while querying her YA an agent responded on the MG with interest. She emailed all the agents letting them know she had interest on her MG even though she queried those agents for a YA. Brooks Sherman said he would sign her for both books and they ended up selling the YA in a pretty big deal. She later debuted at #1 on the NY Times. Pretty exciting story.

http://acthomaswrites.blogspot.com/2015/08/the-post-no-seriously-post.html

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/69501-balzer-bray-prevails-in-13-house-auction-for-ya-debut.html

BJ Muntain said...

AYL's links:

A.C. Thomas's blog

Publishers Weekly

DLM said...

2Ns, a tattoo on the ass is great camouflage for cellulite, if you have any.

Donnaeve said...

"2Ns, a tattoo on the ass is great camouflage for cellulite, if you have any."

Is this a covert confession?

E.M. Goldsmith said...

2Ns, I must disagree about the ass tattoo. At least in my experience, the tattoo of that sleek raven you get on your firm hind parts in your 20s gains weight with you. And fades from black to gray like the hair on your head.

Poor, sad fat raven looks as slouch and sloppy as it's back end post now days. I did try to warn my daughter about this when she started getting tattoos, but there are simply things youngsters must discover for themselves.Even with a valid object lesson right in front of them.

I always said, as a parent, at least, if nothing else I can serve as a cautionary tale and bad example. Ah well. Going to imbibe some of that virtual coffee BJ sent my way.

DLM said...

EMG and all - I didn't get my first ink till I was 45, so the ink is not aged.

Donna, covert? I hardly think so now! :) Though to be fair, I don't show THOSE pieces around!!

Donnaeve said...

That story about A.C. Thomas is one of the best query stories ever! Thanks for sharing AYL

Diane Hee!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Diane You are far more clever woman than myself. I suppose, at least, my misspent youth gives me a trove of delectable writing treasures. It ought to be worth at least that much.

Amy Johnson said...

Thanks for your thoughts on my question, Colin and BJ.

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

Sherry: I'm open to suggestions of good/reputable mags to try. I've sent a couple of stories to a some that I know would be valuable publishing credit, but they are quite competitive, and I'm either still waiting to hear, or I've been turned down (one with a nice personal note).

2Ns/Donna/Diane/Elise: Call me old and fuddy-duddy, but I have never understood the appeal of tattoos. I have friends with tattoos, and I don't judge those that want them or have them, it's just not something that has ever attracted me. Like smoking. Or artichokes. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin I love artichokes. Tattoos are magical, but you know how that goes. Magic of any kind is never free.

Even though you don't have any tattoos, you're still adorable. And we can probably agree on cake. I do love cake. And well-written humor. You are a master at that.

AYL said...

BJ Muntain, thank you for making those links so much more accessible!

Donna eve, you are very welcome!

Here are some other cool success stories (also sorry about the links, I don't know how to make them easily clickable):

Veronica Roth Divergent story:
How she got her agent
http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/teaser-tuesday-no-story-time.html
How she got her book deal
http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/story-time-part-two.html


Victoria Aveyard Red Queen Story:
How she got her agent (very non traditional!)
http://victoriaaveyard.blogspot.com/2013/04/all-stuff-i-didnt-do.html
How she got her book deal
http://victoriaaveyard.blogspot.com/2013/05/ive-always-been-lucky.html

I know these authors are out of the norm, but I think its always fun to look at super success stories of what normal no-name writers actually did accomplish. It wasn't a fairytale, it was their reality. I hope it gives some people some great inspiration!

Donnaeve said...

Colin I actually share your view of the old tattoo. (notice how I got that to rhyme. I really have no desire to have one - not anymore than I'd want...gosh, I can't think of any food I don't like...not anymore than I'd want to take that crazy polar plunge some folks do ever year.

I am free of any - although my husband SWEARS up and down he's going to get one if the Minnesota Vikings EVER win the Super Bowl. There is one tattoo I saw a while back that I thought, "if I ever went nuts and decided to get one, that's how I'd do it." Someone has a tiny rose on their big toe. Think how tiny that is!

I think I'm over my limit today - back to the WIP!

Panda in Chief said...

Good advice, as always, about querying and the fate of aging tattoos.

Thanks for the advice and the laughs.

Colin: I also want to know if there was any more noise from Carnegie Mellon as a result of the NY auditions. Vicarious hovering I guess. Also the daughter of a good friend here is considering CMU in art and music.

Cheers all!

Colin Smith said...

Hey there, AYL!

Here are your linkified links:

http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2010/03/teaser-tuesday-no-story-time.html
http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2010/04/story-time-part-two.html

http://victoriaaveyard.blogspot.com/2013/04/all-stuff-i-didnt-do.html
http://victoriaaveyard.blogspot.com/2013/05/ive-always-been-lucky.html

And here's one of the few occasions that I will link to my own blog from here:

http://www.colindsmith.com/blog/2015/01/04/how-to-hyperlink/

Donna's "How I Got My Agent" story is a bit unusual too. I don't recall if she has told it anywhere aside from her book launch...

Colin Smith said...

For those that want an update on FirstBorn's auditioning adventure, so far she has not heard from Carnegie-Mellon, and may not until next month. She has received rejections from a couple of other places, and has some auditions lined up here in NC over the next few weeks, one at her maternal grandmothers alma mater, Meredith College.

Colin Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

Elise: You're too kind. :D

Artichokes are the only vegetable I have come across that I just cannot tolerate. Unfortunately, my wife loves artichoke dip. But my wife can't stand soggy cereal, so I guess we balance each other out. :)

Colin Smith said...

Donna: I've always like a variety of veggies, which was handy when I went vegetarian nearly 27 years ago. Artichokes have been the main hold-out on me. Just... can't... :-\ And I have yet to meet a fruit I wouldn't eat. I'm a total fruitaholic. Seriously. Give me a choice between chocolate and fruit salad, and I'm torn. Pour chocolate over the fruit...

Sorry, I passed out. Where was I? Cake? Did someone say cake? FirstBorn's making me chocolate cake for my birthday next week. Chocolate cake, chocolate frosting, with chocolate ice-cream, and chocolate milk to go with it. Yes, I'm turning 5. ;P

Amy Johnson said...

Colin, Hope your FirstBorn gets some nice, thick envelopes soon. One of my kids is a music major (composition and piano), and I remember those admission auditions. I'm also reminded that before I started college, I had never had a single class in the subject I have my B.A. in (not music-related). But the music majors are in a whole other league--so many of them have been studying their major subject intensively since they were just little kids, as I'm sure you know. I admire them so.

Amy Johnson said...

Colin,, Wow, I went vegetarian nearly 27 years ago too! I'm not kidding. :)

Colin Smith said...

Amy: Some of the schools she has applied to don't have music theater, so for those she's applied to the drama department. Meredith have scheduled an interview, so it's not strictly an audition, but you never know--she might get asked for a monologue.

Generally speaking, in the UK, your college admission is based on your A-level grades (A-levels = Harry Potter N.E.W.Ts). Normally, at least one of the subjects you studied at A-level is the subject you want to study at college, and, naturally, the college would like to see a good grade in that subject. I studied Theology at University, and my best A-level grade was in Religious Studies. If I wanted to study one of the sciences, colleges would want to see good grades in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology in my A-levels. Thankfully, that wasn't me. :) One of the differences between the US and UK systems.

Colin Smith said...

Amy! So does that make us celery siblings? Turnip twins? :)

AYL said...

Thank you so much Colin!

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

I have a tattoo of a rearing horse on my right butt cheek. He's been there about 10 or 12 years? The actual event is a little blurry in my mind. He seems to be holding his own, thus far... Still standing and all that.

Dena Pawling said...


I have nothing on today's topic or on tattoos, but did y'all see today's CNN article about how lack of a comma (oxford/serial comma) changed the outcome of a court case? This is the stuff we lawyers love =)

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/15/health/oxford-comma-maine-court-case-trnd/index.html

Colin Smith said...

Dena: I was just reading about this! And, of course, I thought of you all. :)

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/15/health/oxford-comma-maine-court-case-trnd/index.html

RosannaM said...

Just now weighing in from the West Coast, so may be talking to myself here. But...

What a lovely position to be in OP. I wish you the best of luck with both novels!

Colin, I hope you see this, because I want you to know that you are a talented writer and deserve to have your words read and enjoyed by the world of word lovers, be that on a blog, or a short story or a NYTB!

That said, if your dream is to write books, I implore you to do it! Any way you need to. In 15 minute bursts, or a stolen Saturday at a coffee shop. You are such a great cheerleader to all of us here, but I am here to be yours! Go Colin. You can do it. You should do it. No, you MUST do it.

BJ Muntain said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

RosannaM: I see you, and thanks for the encouragement. :)

Beth said...

Tattoos? I can't even commit to a bumper sticker. And judging by my hairstyle in the 80s, it's better if I don't make unchangable fashion choices.

Best of luck, OP.

Megan V said...

Dena--saw that and loved it! Classic interpretation issues :)

Nicole Roder said...

Wow, congratulations, OP! That is so exciting! Good luck!