I can't tell if I'm being rational or if I'm on the crazy writer hamster wheel. I have an agent at a legit, reputable agency who has a great track record of sales. After unsuccessfully attempting to sell my debut last year, I wrote something new and sent it to him about three months ago. We worked together to develop the idea and I sent him a synopsis before diving into the writing as per his request, so I know he definitely liked the general direction it was going. But he still hasn't gotten back to me after I sent him my draft--the first time I followed up politely after about five weeks, he promised he would get to it ASAP, and I recently followed up again to...radio silence. Here are my questions:
1a) Do I need to hop off the crazy wheel
1b) is the feeling of "Oh, my gosh, I'm about to get dumped" legitimate?
2) Is the following up obnoxious? I feel like since I'm a client it's ok, but I also don't want to be That Person.
3) What should I do if the radio silence continues?
Ok, enough jocularity about a very real problem: writers who live in Mercury's time zone trying to synchronize their watches with agents who use Pluto's clock.
Agents exist in publishing time. It is the time of epochs, glaciers, and dentist drill duration.
Writers, while spinning on their rodent wheels, are capable of counting nanoseconds out loud.
As you might imagine this leads to some
An agent saying "asap" does not mean as soon as possible, or rather it does only if you remember that soon involves hell freezing over...twice.
Your agent does intend to get back to you in a timely fashion. It's just that stuff happens that makes that almost impossible.
For starters, remember this is an edit, and it's not on editorial deadline. That means there's no money attached to increased wait time.
And if your agent is trying to figure out how to tell you s/he doesn't like it, or it needs more work than you think, well forgive her for being slow to write that email. Those are no fun.
To give you some context:
In the last week I've had several things set fire to my do list including: reading a manuscript that had a next day decision offer pending; a client casually mentioning a crucial piece of information that meant the proposal needed to be revised instantly; three things that arose from other client calls that needed to be addressed pronto.
My to do list and to be read list is a moving target. What I think I'll do and read this coming week may not be what I planned.
I've learned (and maybe your agent hasn't) that a quick "not yet" often soothes a writer's fears.
Your agent may not do that because his/her clients reply not with "ok, thanks for the heads up" but "damn it, when then?' which is an email I don't like to get either.
And for all my virtuous words here, I had to send eight emails this week to writers who wondered if I was dead or fled (I am neither which I hope they were happy to hear.)
That said, you need to figure out what you're doing for the next year and waiting isn't it.
So the answer to (3) is this: email your agent with a kind but firm tone. You need to know if the ms is headed in the right direction. Ask him/her to reply with a simple yes/no (and be willing to abide by this!) by Date Certain (a week not less.)
By "abide by that" I mean you do not follow up asking for any other input. [One of the reasons I often don't answer emails from non-clients or query writers is cause I know it means a conversation will ensue and I don't have time for that what with fending off the torch carrying mob of writers who are chanting and boiling oil in my foyer as we speak.]
If you don't hear back, call.
If you don't get a call back or an email, call again.
If you have silence after that, you've got a problem, but let's deal with that later.