Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Agent lollygagging

My situation resembles that of 9/30’s OP with one critical difference—although the agent responded enthusiastically to my full, we’ve never worked together before and he has yet to sign me.

Recently (well, in publishing years, anyway) I queried you and you rejected me in a way that suggested I had good writing and a good project, and should keep on querying. Well, I did, and was fortunate to get a nibble from someone I’d rank (along with yourself) in my small group of dream agents. He asked for a full, which I sent promptly. After three months I nudged; he responded with a long email wherein he praised my writing, included a list of editorial suggestions, and invited me to revise and resubmit.

The edits, which ran about two pages single-spaced, were brilliant. The more I revised, the more excited I became. Six months later, I sent him the revised manuscript and heard . . . nothing. I waited three more months, then nudged tactfully. He responded by thanking me for the rewrite and my patience; he apologized for the delay and promised to get to it right away.

Since then I’ve nudged him twice more at three-week intervals, with the same result. And, boy, do I have questions. But unlike your OP of 9/30, I’m not yet his client, only a prospective (and tremblingly hopeful) client.

Is it okay to keep nudging him? Is every three weeks about right?

Is there anything more I can say or do to move things along? Have I already done too much?

Does he maybe hate the rewrite and is putting off telling me because he’s a nice man and as you pointed out in your original post, nice people hate writing rejections?

Sigh . . . Since you have been so unfailingly kind to me for so many years now, I’m hoping you’ll have time to consider this variation on OP’s theme. Like you, this agent has also been kind. He’s put a lot of unpaid time into my work and his edits have been spot-on. I don’t want to alienate him by pressing too hard. What should I doooooooooooooooooooooooooooo?

You now have a beautified, whipped-in-to-shape manuscript.
What you do is query it.

Agent Lollygag has now had a couple months to get to it. He's not dawdling to make you crazy (the way I like to do); he's probably got a lot of stuff on a higher priority deadline.

You keep nudging him but you do NOT KEEP WAITING for him.
You get that query back in rotation.
When you get an offer, you let him know instantly and give him a week to get back to you**

Nudging every three weeks is a lot.
Nudging every six to eight weeks is better.

I sympathize with you; waiting is hell. But I sympathize with Agent Lollygag too. I have a stack of requested fulls glaring at me right now. The chanting from the mob gathering in my lobby is starting
to take on chilling tones (I was hoping they'd all go home for NaNoWriMo but no luck there.)

**I've had people let me know of an offer, 
only to say they have to respond within a very few days. 
That means I have much less opportunity to read the ms 
so the author gets a pass, rather than a competing offer.


Unknown said...

No matter how much technology changes, time is still a limiting factor. Maybe that will change someday, and we can telepath books, or make them into injectable soup that gives instantaneous experience. I hope not. The pleasure of books is reading (and writing, of course), and reading will always take time. And writers will always be impatient to *know.*

Good luck OP.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I have this picture in my mind.
The QOTKU sitting in a shark-o-lounger (old term for recliner) sipping from a crystal whiskey glass and reading a manuscript while a group of surly villagers surrounds her offices.
Chanting starts, torches are lit (no political inference intended) and as the crowd closes in she's pissed because turning the pages with her little front fins is so damn hard.
Oh woe are the pitfalls of being a well revered shark.

Theresa said...

OP, it must be hard to get thisclose then....nothing. Janet's advice is great. Query on.

Good luck!

Amy Johnson said...

Oh, dear Opie. What should you doooooooo indeed. I'm reminded of past advice Janet has offered about this being [your] career. While trying to do everything right, it's important to remember that (in addition--of course--to being kind and respectful of others and their careers).

2Ns If I weren't trying to be quiet whilst others here sleep, study, etc., I'd be cracking up over your comment. I'm laughing on the inside. Really hard.

Timothy Lowe said...

Congrats, OP, on completing your revision. It sounds like your project has a real shot.

Posts like this are so, so helpful. So helpful for us to get logical, clear advice from an industry professional. As much as the answer makes perfect sense, I never would have thought of it.

Good luck, OP - I am excited for you!

Craig F said...

Once upon a time, in a galaxy all the way down the block, I heard a story. A writer thought he had finally gotten his stars in line. An agent was knocking. Being an excitable boy, he nudged a couple of times.

The agent responded by asking to see the novel in first person. A year later he felt it was ready and sent it off. The only response was a post on a social media feed by the agent. In that post she said that if you really wanted to piss her off, nudge her.

The line gets finer the further towards the goal you get. Keep querying until you are past these kinds of pitfalls.

Gayle said...

Good to know persistence is often the answer.

"Just keep quer-y-ing"

(Think Dory! I know there's an extra beat in there. Go with it.)

BunnyBear said...

I love Janet's answer, but what if OP gets an offer from Dream Agent #2 while waiting for Dream Agent #1 to catch up? If she accepts the DA #2 offer and notifies DA #1, is that going to piss him off since he's already put so much "unpaid work" into her MS? I'd fear he might feel some ownership already and not take news of another offer very kindly. We've all been warned not to piss off an agent because, well, they TALK.

Beth Carpenter said...

BunnyBear, I think that's why she gives #1 a week before she commits to #2. That way he gets first dibs, but if he isn't interested or just doesn't have time, she's not forever in limbo.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I feel for you, OP. So close. Persist. You will get there.

Colin Smith said...

Congrats, Opie!! How exciting for you! You're in a really really good place right now. Those agent edits are priceless--possibly almost as good as if you'd paid a professional editor to look over your work. From what you say, you seem to realize that your novel has never looked so good. A hearty AMEN, therefore, to Janet's advice. Keep the Query train going. I wouldn't be surprised if the bite-count increases. Wouldn't it be cool if your next nudge to Agent Lollygag is to say, "I've had an offer of representation, but I've asked for a week before deciding..." :)

Janet: You think writers in the query trenches would do something as rational and reasonable as participate in NaNoWriMo to take their minds off their inboxes and get novel #2 underway? That just shows you've never been on this side of the query... ;)

Julie Weathers said...

OP, that has to be frustrating. On the plus side, he gave you great advice and your manuscript is in much better shape now. That is a good thing.

I agree, three weeks is too often. Signed clients are going to take priority and you don't know what's going on with them. I don't like nudging at all, but I will on fulls after a very long time. After six months, in one case the agent said she never received it, so I re-sent; in another, she had sent a rejection I never received; in another, the assistant sent back an immediate rejection. I guess they don't take kindly to nudges at all.

Keep querying. You'll get there.

That's a scarey and frustrating story. Ugh, spending a year working on a manuscript as punishment. On the other hand, putting one first person often puts you deeper in the mc's head. It probably wasn't a lost cause.

John Davis Frain said...

Op, I feel simultaneously good for you and bad for you. But hey, conflict is the stuff of story, so maybe I can use this when I jump on the Nano project when my daytime work GOES AWAY PLEASE.

Three weeks IRL = a heartbeat in the publishing world. That's been my experience. Would you nudge someone--for anything!--every time your heart beats? Waaaaaaaaaaaayyyy too often.

Use that nudge time for query time. Three weeks later, use that nudge time for Chapter 1. Nothing goes to waste, and you'll need that next ms in your back pocket pretty soon anyway.

Good luck to you. Take a look at the scenery from where you stand; it sounds like you're in a good place. We're all pulling for you here.

Stacy said...

Congrats, OP! It's still a problem, but it's a good problem to have.

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Lennon Faris said...

At least you got a great mss out of this interaction, OP! I had thought nudging was at 6 mo and then every 3 mo after that... I guess it's not a strict science though.

Best of luck.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Um COLIN, isn't Janet is on this side of the query every time she submits one to a publisher. She may not have written the book but she's got a stake in it, r-e-p-u-t-a-t-i-o-n.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: I will grant similarities between subbing to editors and querying to agents. But it's not exactly the same. Janet is a sane and reasonable person who often behaves sane and rational ways. We're writers. ;D

Janet Reid said...

if you tilt your head to the left, that odd sound you hear is me rolling on the sea floor laughing my fin off! Sane! Reasonble! oh my godiva I'm blowing seawater out my schnozz!

Karen McCoy said...

Kathy Joyce You just won. At least from where I'm sitting...

Karen McCoy said...

I'm starting to think terms like "sane" and "reasonable" are just there to act as benchmarks--not sure it's possible to actually reach them...

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

Karen: That's what agents are for. They set the standard for their writers. Isn't that right, Janet? That's why you have such a fine cadre of level-headed, sensible, rational clients... ;)

Packing for Carkoon as we speak... :D

Anonymous said...

Oh man, this is one of those posts where as I'm reading, I'm thinking, "Wow, I'd LOVE to have a problem like this." And at the same time thinking, "I am SO GLAD I don't have a problem like this."

How crazy-making it must be to realize you have to keep on querying just when you think you might finally be done with that stage. Onward, OP, and best of luck to you.

MA Hudson said...

Judging by what Janet said about her own to-do list, l’d assume this lollygagging agent is simply too busy with the clients he already has. That doesn’t mean he no longer loves your ms, just that he can’t fit it in to his work load right now. Go on with your querying and hopefully you’ll be getting more bites soon. Chin up, you’re almost there.

Gingermollymarilyn said...

Hmmm, which thought should I go with? How about one of my favourites:

Everything happens for a reason.

Maybe you'll take Janet's sage advice, go back to querying other agents and maybe you'll find the RIGHT agent for your book. Chances are stellar, it's even better now.