Friday, June 30, 2017

More on requested fulls, those problems we all want to have

With my third novel (a thriller), after two weeks of querying, I have 10 agents reading my full manuscript, and 2 partials out.

Question 1: I know you've addressed this a couple of times on the blog, but if I get additional full requests, should I let them know ten other agents are reading? More recently you said a writer should only reveal that information if an agent asks, but in a previous post a few years ago "When to reveal you're popular," you said it was okay to tell an agent if they request a full. I want to know if I can mention this without coming across as rude.

Question 2: Before I sent the manuscript out the first time, I believed it was completely ready, but after reading it again several times, I've found a handful of errors (for example, peak instead of peek). These happen after page 100, and I know you've mentioned that this is unacceptable, but I'm wondering if an agent will stop reading if they encounter an error or two past page 100.

None of the agents have responded so far, and I know you advise sending a revised manuscript, but I can't help but feel like the agent will think I would make a bad client if I do. Or will think it's annoying. If the changes are a few typo fixes is it worth sending a revised copy? If I do, how do I phrase that email?

Generally you only need to inform agents if another agent has made an offer.  I sometimes get those "another requested the full" emails, but they don't have any impact on when I read the manuscript.  If there's an offer, I will move that ms to the top of the list.

I caution all of you scofflaws out there who just had the bright idea of telling all agents that you've got an offer so as to get your ms to the top of the list. DO NOT DO THIS.  There are two reasons: lying is a TERRIBLE way to start a relationship with anyone let alone someone you will be working with long term.  And yes, you'd be amazed how easy it is to find out it was a lie.   Second, because I'm reading quickly I'm more likely to stop if I'm not totally thrilled. I'm Unlikely to offer any comments or revision suggestions.

The answer to your question is this: if an agent asks if anyone else is reading, it's fine to say yes, but it's almost impossible to inform everyone of full requests and not sound rude.

As to your second question: I don't stop reading unless the mistakes are frequent or egregious. If it's clear you didn't run spell czech I generally give you a chance to revise and resend.  I'm really not the comma police.

If you've got a LOT of homonyms I'll mark them until I lose patience, then send it back to you with a stern warning. Often I'll read a revised version if the author cleans up the ms.

If you've got a cleaner version of the ms, you offer to the agents reading the full.

Here's how to do that: Dear SharkForBrains, I found some errors that mortify me. I fixed them. Here's the cleaner version.  Yes, I consider myself gnawed. Love and kisses, woodland creature

I'd ALWAYS rather read a cleaner version. Every mistake yanks me out of the story. The fewer times that happens, the more I can concentrate of other things: pacing, tension, plot holes.

And none of that would make me think you'd be a bad client.
In fact, knowing the ms had errors and not caring? THAT's a problem.


Robert Ceres said...

Dyslexia is a horrible thing for an author, homonyms are the enemy, and spellcheck is complicit. Funny thing, I am much better at finding stupid errors when reviewing my CP's manuscripts.

Kitty said...

10 agents reading my full manuscript, and 2 partials out

WOW, OP, you must be doing something right. Congrats!

Kitty said...

Btw, OP, you said this was your third novel. What happened with the first two? Just curious.

Robert Ceres said...

Btw, I totally agree with Kitty. Way to go OP!

Colin Smith said...

Opie: Congrats on writing a knock-down, drag-out, take-no-prisoners, awesome query. Ten full requests and two partials? Enviable statistics. Very well done!! Hopefully someone will bite... :)

I am painfully aware that the due-est of due diligence doesn't always catch every errant word. I've sent manuscripts to betas that I swore were clean. I had read the thing myself numerous times, and even had a couple of other sets of eyes take a critical look. And yet, what do my faithful friends find? "Their" instead of "there"!! "It's" instead of "its"!!! Simple stuff. Embarrassing stuff. Call yourself a writer? You should know better stuff. I guess the policy is do the best you can and make the story so good, even Janet won't notice the typos. :)

Useful qs, and good answers!

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I will be needing some masterful beta readers in a month. My last time I ventured into the trenches, I found those kind of embarrassing errors deep in my manuscript after sending requested fulls. That is unsettling. But 10 requested full manuscripts is nothing to scoff at. How glorious is that!

Good luck, OP! Sounds like you got the wind at your back.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Wow Opie. I want your problems! 10 fulls, 2 partials in 2 weeks? Color me envious.

Janet gave some gems here. Don't let an agent get yanked out of the story via typos and let an agent know you care about sending your very best.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I figure, if I pay for a clean manuscript,(copy editor), than I know my word-acne is not the problem, the face is, and the heart, and the soul.

10 fulls, I want what OP is having.

Craig F said...

I do not think that I ever read a book that didn't have at least one glaring error in it. Of course with the vast amount of worthless knowledge I have collected I might see things other don't. Chief among those things, in thrillers and police procedurals, is the smell of Cordite. The final stocks of that were used up before WW2 was half over.

10 fulls and two partials in two weeks. Holy Schnit, that is incredible. Congrats on that. It might be some kind of record.

Theresa said...

Fabulous, OP, on the 10 fulls out! I hope you get additional good news soon.

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

Mistakes end up in finished products all the time in spite of all the finetooth combing. I simply tell everyone authors consider a mistake in a book on the bookstore shelf a good luck charm.

RosannaM said...

OP--you are off to the races! Congratulations.

While being yanked out of the story is never pleasant, I could fly right over peek/peak with just an extra blink, but pique would bug me big time.

Worse than homonym errors are the ones where the author just got something plain wrong. For Craig it's cordite, for me it's when someone squirts some medicine in an IV that I know is only given orally. Or when someone visiting a patient hears the whoosh whoosh of the ventilator then the patient wakes up and talks.

BTW does anyone know the name of a good knot that works for tying up a hand to a railing? I seem to have acquired a bad guy in my WIP...

lamandarin said...

Congrats OP! YOu're definitely doing something right.

My problem is I'm a speed reader, so I have a tendency to leave out articles (and sometimes prepositions), and they are very hard for me to find. I have some lovely, patient CPs who know this and help me out. You can also run a "find" search for some common homonyms (keep a list of the ones you swap frequently), and I use a macro that highlights weak words so I can look through them before sending the MS. You could adapt it for homonyms as well. :)

Craig F said...

RosannaM: How long does the bad guy need to be tied, is he unconscious or fighting getting tied up?

Mister Furkles said...


One of the things I do is to keep a list of words that need review. For example: their, there, they're. Also all forms of be. Then use FIND to search each one out. This way you are focused on the potential error or undesirable passive voice. Most find a correct use and it does takes time. But what else have you got to do while waiting for some eager agent to call?

Paul Brians web site has a set of about three thousand common errors. Most are homonyms. You don't need a list of a thousand such terms, just those for the mistakes you make.
https brains dot wsu dot edu slash common-errors

Claire Bobrow said...

Wow, OP - you are on fire! Congratulations and good luck with the novel.

Homonyms are incredibly frustrating - the eye seems to skim right past them. It's nice to know from Janet's pov that you can send a cleaner version of a ms with an apology and not shoot yourself in the foot.

I think Craig is correct: most books contain a typo or two, and I'm certain they must have been edited multiple times. The brain merrily skips past tiny mistakes to reach the exciting parts.

Claire Bobrow said...

ps - thank you to everyone who commented on using the Find function to locate homonym problems. That is very useful. I'm also interested in lamandarin's comment about using a macro to highlight weak words - another skill to learn!

Joseph Snoe said...

10 fulls and 2 partials sounds like my relatives’ false teeth inventory.

But it’s out of the world great for the original poster’s prospects. Fantastic news.

The only part of Janet Reid’s entry that caught me totally off-guard was “it’s impossible to inform everyone of full requests and not sound rude.” I would have thought agents would appreciate this information. But no, they’d rather be left in the dark until the writer has an offer in hand. I learn something new every day.

Iamandarin I’m not a speed reader (in fact I’m painfully slow (and even slower typist)) but leaving out words, including articles, is my bugaboo, too. My brain often inserts the missing words when I proofread. I wonder how many I miss.

RosannaM said...

Craig, my bad guy needs to be tied up indefinitely, but untied periodically so he can eat and relieve himself. Right now, he is zip tied, but I know you can break out of those. Thought maybe to tie him to a metal security door somehow.

Kitty said...

Sorry that this is off topic, but I have a QUESTION: What happened to the map of Reiders?

Karen McCoy said...

Congrats to Opie! A wonderful problem of riches to have.

Question I sent off three chapters in a query (per the sub guidelines) and found a few minor typos that I've since fixed. Debating whether I wait until the full stage to offer a revised copy. Thoughts?

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BJ Muntain said...

I would think, if an agent has read all the way to page 100, one or two typos shouldn't make a difference. If they set the ms down, then they just weren't that into it. After all, you've already proven you can write without typos for 100 pages. But that's only 'a few' typos. Like 2-4 typos in the second hundred pages. If it's more than that - well, Janet told you what might happen.

I'm just saying this for those who have fulls out and are panicking in case they missed a typo or two while they were proofreading for the zillionth time.

What you don't want to do is find a few typos, send a cleaner version, then find a few more, send an even cleaner version, then find another typo, so send another... Consider sending a cleaner version a one-time opportunity. Make this version the cleanest you possibly can, send it off, then forget about it. Write the next book, or the next book.

Perhaps it might help to set a minimum for yourself - say, 'it's only worth it to me to send another version if I find 4 typos or more.' Or something to that effect. That will stop you overloading that agent's inbox with several cleaner versions. Then, if you find a couple more typos after sending a cleaner version, you can say, "That's not enough to send another version yet. Two typos that late in the story will not get my ms rejected."

As for lying to agents: That qualifies as 'being an asshat', which means you shall be relegated to the agent's blacklist. And since agents talk to other agents, all the agents you lied to will know what you did, and you will be relegated to ALL THE BLACKLISTS. Because no one likes to be lied to - in business, anyway.

(By the way, blacklists are generally only for asshats, and if you read this blog or are generally a good human being, you don't need to worry about blacklists. An innocent faux pas won't put you on a blacklist. Arrogance, intentional rudeness, rejection rage - that's what will get you blacklisted. Woodland creatures - the people who are genuinely worried about making a faux pas - very rarely make a blacklist.)

Sherry Howard said...

What an awesome request record for OP! Congratulations!

I've found all of this full manuscript angst terrible. I made a mistake about notifying agents who had my full, and another agent steered me kindly onto the right path. I thought I understood the etiquette, but I didn't really. I didn't ask Janet about it because I didn't know what to ask. (It wasn't Janet--I write kiddielit.)

What I learned: I participated in an online conference, and I got an offer of publication from a publisher. I thought it proper to notify the agents who had my full. "Kind agent" told me that this publisher was too new to have any credibility, and notifying agents about that offer would make them think I didn't have the patience to go the traditional route, and would ruin any chance I had with them. (I didn't deliberately query agents and publishers--it came through an online conference. I DID know better than to do that.) I cleaned up the mess I made, turned down the publication offer, and got back to querying, but it was an unpleasant learning curve!

I'll say it's a little heartbreaking when you hear a "no" on a full.

Colin Smith said...

Rosanna: How much do you like your antagonist? Maybe chains and a bucket? ;)

Ardenwolfe said...

Excuse me while I beat my envy demon to death.

Craig F said...

It is the magnitude of the error that matters. Homonyms, missed spelling and such are not a big problem if few in numbers, the big stuff that knocks you off the page might be a problem but leaving a glaring error might also be a good thing.

I once knew a guy who ran a closed phosphate facility. Those are nasty things that don't get cleaned up often because they are in the sticks and the land they sit on is worthless to others. He would leave a few rags by the final outfall of water from the property. The environmental regulation people would see that and write it down. Then they would skim over everything else. A glaring, but easily repaired error might show your humanity.

RosannaM: Zip ties might be best if they have a supply of them. To break them takes a quick movement. If you keep his arms spread no such movement can happen. It would also keep him short on oxygen. That would lessen the fight in him.

Good knots take a while to tie. For a few moments a spar hitch would work but like all quickly tied knots will loosen and untie.

If you need more email me at cfenner13@ the gmail thing.

BJ Muntain said...

I just realized that, in the effort to TRY to keep my last post short, I missed the chance to say: Congratulations, OP! And best of luck!

Robert: I know at least one dyslexic author. Probably more, but then, I know a lot of authors. The fellow I'm thinking about knows he's dyslexic, and has friends and critique partners who help him out with things he may have missed. He also has programs that read his work out to him, so he can find problems that way. I met him on a forum. It's a good thing he has a sense of humour about his dyslexia - some of his mistakes were a bit embarrassing. But he took it all in good humour and diligently fixed things. He had his hard SF book published with a small SF press a couple years ago.

RosannaM: Zip ties are not impossible to break out of, but neither are knots, handcuffs, or duct tape. But in order to break out of zip ties, you need to get the right amount of force in the right place. If you zip-tie your bad guy so that he can't get the right force in the right place, he should be good. Perhaps zip tie his wrist to the handrail (although he could break the handrail) or something, then zip tie his ankle to a piece of furniture... not impossible to break out of (nothing is), but damned difficult. He'd have to break the handrail, then somehow break or move the piece of furniture. But if the good guy knows that this can happen, and watches for it, it can add a wee bit of tension. Then he comes in some time, sees the furniture has been moved an inch or two, and decides to zip tie the bad guy's OTHER ankle to yet another piece of furniture... Although that could be a problem when you want him to relieve himself, having to remove all the zip ties then put them back on... It might be less kind but more feasible to just let him relieve himself wherever he is. But then, I don't know why you want to keep the bad guy tied up for any length of time... Your story sounds interesting. Question - does your bad guy know *how* to get out of zip ties? How knowledgeable is he about things like that? That would also have to be taken into account when tying him up. I mean, I know how to get out of zip ties when my wrists are tied together with one (I've seen videos), but I've never tried it. I'm not sure I'd have the strength to do it. Take into account your villain's physical strength, his knowledge of 'getting out of things', etc.

Joseph Snoe: Laughing at your relatives' false teeth inventory. :)

Kitty: Eek! The Reider map is gone! Google says: "This map is no longer available because it was moved to the trash. Please contact the owner to restore access." (For those who don't know, the map is/was linked to from Janet's page, top right corner, under The Fabulous Blog Readers.)

Karen: You might ask the agent you queried if they want a fixed copy, or you could just resend (say that in the subject line, maybe something like: Resending query: Fixed typos/revised pages/somethinglikethat, and include the subject line of the original query after that, so they can easily put them together.)

Colin Smith said...

IIRC, Christina Seine was the keeper of the map. I don't recall seeing her around lately... is she okay? Any word? Christina...??

BJ Muntain said...

Colin: I've seen Christina on Facebook recently (like yesterday? Or the day before? She shared a video I shared.)

RosannaM said...

Thanks Craig, BJ, Colin for your bad guy restraints suggestions. I'll have to ponder on this some.

Give me a shout out if you need help with any hospital/medical type scenarios.

lamandarin said...

Hi! If you Google "Word macros to highlight word list" you can beg, borrow and steal a few pre-made ones off the inter web. I have one I've built out to highlight different types of words in different colors. It's very helpful for line editing.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Congrats OP... What fun! I look forward to hearing about what happens down the road.

When my third book came out (traditionally published, professionally edited, read and reread numerous times by smart people), I was happily paging through one of the shiny new copies from my box of comps. Suddenly, horrors, I discovered an "aloud" for "allowed"... SHEESH!!! How did we all miss that gruesome mistake. I wailed. Out loud.

gypsyharper said...

Congrats on all those requests, OP!

Wow, so many good editing tips today! I've got to check this macro thing.

Jessica said...

Just wanted to pop in and say good luck to OP!! Te fulls?! You're living everyone's dream :) I hope you hear good news soon (and I doubt peek/peak will be deal breakers :) )

John Davis Frain said...

If I was a container, I'd be filled up from all I've learned here and I'd have to jettison some old knowledge to make room for the new.

In fact, part of me (the part that has been exhaustively editing, if you'll excuse me an adverb) hopes there are no more editing tips. My container runneth over in editing tips. But thank you all the same because I'm sure I'll reconsider and use them all.

Craig F said...

Mr. Manuscript: It sounds more like you need a break and a drink or four. Its after five in my part of the world, so I wish you all a happy and relaxing weekend. To may fellow Americans, have a happy Fourth of July weekend. Try not to go back to work until Wednesday.

I know this is number 4 for the day. It won't happen often.

Lennon Faris said...

Congrats, OP!

Ugh, typos after pushing 'send' are the worst. I have re-sent a full mss when I found a couple, based on what Janet said before. My email was short & sweet, and I attached the new version. The agent was super professional and I don't think she minded, but I hated it. My feeling is, you'd better get it all right the second time around!

By the way, if this were a normal group, I might jokingly bring up the fact that quite a few people seem to know an awful lot about tying people up.

But it's a group of writers, so... *shrugs*

Claire Bobrow said...

Ya know, Lennon Faris I was thinking the same thing. It's a bit odd swimming around with people who are so knowledgable about that topic. But far be it from me to rain on the zip-tie parade. They all seem so enthusiastic :-)

Craig F said...

If I could, I would let y'all know that I am a sailor at times. Therefore I have a need to know knots. Even more than if I if I was a regular sailor.

Alas, I am past my limit on comments and can't do that.

RosannaM said...

Very late check in here, and I am filled with an odd sort of glee. Over zip ties, and chains and knots. And people who know about such things and are willing to share. Wow, I love this space!

BJ Muntain said...

Lennon: Yep, writers. Writers who like to do mean things to characters (because they can't be mean in real life). Writers who like to learn about violence, fighting, guns, and explosions, even if in real life they might be afraid of normal things like lighting a match or running a motorized lawn mower... Speaking for a friend, of course. I'm not afraid of anything. Honest.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

Congrats with your plethora of requests! I hope you get an offer from the right agent, for you!

It's really good to know how to write that email saying, "whoops! Typos!" Thanks for letting us know it's appropriate, even a week later.

Karen McCoy said...

Thanks, BJ! Will definitely give that a try.