Friday, March 23, 2018

More on nudging timeline

After reading your (excellent) answer on a question about nudges, I have a follow up question:

If an agent doesn't respond to a nudge, can you re-nudge and, if so, how often?

I started querying in late summer/early fall in last year and (happily) got quite a few requests. All confirmed receipt of the requested materials.
About 3 - 4 months after sending those fulls and partials out, I sent out a series of nudges about two weeks ago. A couple responded right away to let me know they just hadn't gotten around to reading yet. But the majority didn't respond to my nudge at all.

There's one agent in particular who I was hoping to hear from. She was my first request (so she's had a partial for 4+ months now) and her agency has several agents I think might be a fit for my project. Said agency allows you to query multiple agents, but not at the same time. So I'd love to at least know if she's passing (and thus I can query another agent) or just hasn't gotten around to reading. And, of course, I'd love to know if those other agents are still reading as well.

So, do I follow up again with the non-responsive agents? If so, how long should I wait? And at what point do I simply call it a pass and query another agent at their agencies (as allowed by each agency's guidelines, of course)?

You can re-nudge as long as you want but after a year, I think the project is pretty much dead.

That said, I've signed clients who waited a year. I wasn't proud of that delay but it wasn't cause I was swanning around Biarritz with James Bond in his Aston Martin.

If you're eager to move on, three nudges with no response means they've pocket passed on your project (see: pocket veto).

Those three nudges should be at least 60 days apart.

I'm as behind on my reading as I've ever been in my entire career, and that's WITH the additional eyeballs of Intern Kim (aka the resident Godsend).

I took a quick look at my list of requested fulls and I've got 47 pending. The oldest is from March 2017. I will say that I try to respond to all nudging emails, but honestly I'm kinda mortified to see those in my inbox so it takes me a while sometimes. (see: avoidance coping)

I did have to speak a little more tersely to a writer who nudged too often (once a month or so) with "if you want an answer now, it's no. If you can wait till I read it, I will." She understood and backed off enough that I didn't pass out of petulance.

Bottom line: this is your career and your work. If an agent has not responded to a requested full you're well within the bounds of decorum to withdraw the submission and move ahead. There's more at stake here for you than there is for me. Don't let my tortoise pace slow you to a stop.


Kathy Joyce said...

*47* pending? Holy guacamole! I'd die of guilt stress. And jumping-on-my-own-case stress. And how-will-I-ever-finish-this stress. And...

Janet, you still do this blog for us. A veritable saint you are.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Can you hire another intern? Oh dear, how will QOTKU manage her duties of running the known universe? 47 fulls. Oh my!

The query trenches look more treacherous by the day.

french sojourn said...

I think it's gone from a Query trench, to a Query gauntlet.

Kitty said...

James Bond with someone in his Aston Martin

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

47 FULLS ?
That's a few soup to nuts Thanksgiving meals a week until mid summer.
A Pepto job for sure.

The Sleepy One said...

Take heart, OP, 4 months isn't *that* long of a time. It's not necessarily good or bad--it means the agent(s) haven't had a chance to read it yet. it definitely feels like a very long time when you're waiting. This is a great time to start a new project.

Sherry Howard said...

Waiting on fulls is torture. Sitting on fulls is torture. Grateful for any guidance on dealing with nudges because the last thing I want to do is be a pest, but I don't like being passive either.

LynnRodz said...

Ahh, the waiting game...not easy.

I think it would do you a world of good to swan around Biarritz with JB, but I'd wait a bit. It's raining and a little cool in Biarritz today and you'd definitely want that top down on the Aston Martin when you do.

April said...

I know it wasn't the point of the post, but your link to the Wiki page about avoidance coping was eye opening for me. This is exactly what I do! About almost everything.

Time to do some research...

MB Owen said...

Hats off to 47!!

Colin Smith said...

Hey, Janet--may I be the voice of the comments for a moment?

If you need to back off the blog to catch up, please do. I know this blog is part of your livelihood (writers visit, find out how awesome you are, and query you), but what if your next client or two is in that 47? And what if one of those 47 is a break-out, NYTB? That's their career, AND YOURS!

Yeah, we'd whine about you not being around for a little while. But you're used to ignoring us whine. :) Besides, we know you're a happier shark when you have a full liquor cabinet. And this blog doesn't pay for that... ;)

Julie Weathers said...

Oh, my. Here Colin, take this cleaning cloth, will you? That sweet kind of antiseptic smell? Oh, it's just my new cleaner. Can you get that smudge? Yep, that one on the window by your face.

What was that heavy thud? Oh, nothing, Miss Janet. I think Colin's taking a nap. In the oubliette.

Seriously, you know we would survive with a break in the blog, but Colin is still in the hole.

BJ Muntain said...

OP: It's a tough choice to make. Four months seems like a long time, and you'd like to get on with things, but publishing is a slow business. Patience is necessary. But you don't want to waste too much time on a possible 'no', so...

What do you do?

1. Withdraw your partial now, and query someone else at the agency. You'll never know, though, if that agent would have offered rep at some point or not.

2. Wait 60 days, then nudge again. If no response then, decide whether to withdraw or repeat. I wouldn't nudge more than 3 times, though. But that's my preference. After three times, you may decide to withdraw. This takes longer than #1, but you'll have a better idea of whether this agent is for you or not.

Throughout all this time: Keep querying! When you get an offer of representation, you'll then go back through all those who still have partials or fulls and tell them you've received an offer and they've got one week to 10 days to get back to you.

Just remember that withdrawing your manuscript because they're taking too long basically closes off that agent for that manuscript. You can't go back to them when you get an offer. You can't re-query them for the same manuscript.

Really, it all comes down to what you're comfortable doing - waiting, nudging, or withdrawing.

Lennon Faris said...

Well Colin, ya did it now. *waves down into oubliette*

I've never actually heard of a Nudge Story ending positively. I'm admittedly still green, so hopefully this is the reason. Maybe those year-long wait clients of Janet's were a few?

I hope yours will be one, OP.

John Davis Frain said...

So, when's the last time I disagreed with Julie W and Colin S?

I'm not signing the petition that says we're fine with the blog going dark. I'll volunteer to ghost write a piece if that'd help (oh, how quickly the masses would figure it out!), but I'm happier with the rare two-a-day versus silence. You might as well ask me to remove dinner from my daily routine.

Okay, this is where I say I'm only kidding, right? Nah. Let them learn patience. If it's how the industry works, they should learn it early.

UPDATE: True story. Two hours ago, I had typed all that above, and one other (I'm sure clever) comment and then hit "Publish." At that precise moment, we lost power and lost Internet connectivity. My comment didn't publish, and I'm wondering, from 900 miles away, exactly how powerful is our Shark?

Smarter people would've taken that as an omen and slinked away. Me? I waited for power to be restored and figured in for a fin slap, in for a meal.

One Of Us Has To Go said...

I voluntarily jump into the hole with Colin (HEY, NO naughty thoughts here, that's NOT what I mean ;) ).

Cause I agree with him! Maybe a compromise would work best: Janet reduces the frequency of her posts/contests by 50%.

Post only every second day, take Sundays completely off and have a flash fiction contest only half as often ("half as often"...? Is that proper English? Hmm... maybe I should double check.)

Maybe you'll even have the time to join JB when he honks in his Aston Martin outside your office, waiting to pick you up.

Julie, I said thank you to you on yesterday's post :).

BJ Muntain said...

Regarding the blog going dark: I'd rather it didn't, really. I know I haven't been commenting much, but I've been trying to keep up, and if I fall out of habit doing something, it tends to get forgotten. I don't want to forget this blog.

If there's something we can do to help fill in, I'm sure many of us would. Like the week or so when we sent Janet pet stories and pics to post. If Janet wanted guest blog writers for awhile, I'm sure many of us would step up.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Yeah, I am pulling lid tight on that oubliette that Colin fell into quite by accident within Julie’s view. And I am going to agree with Manuscript Frain which is probably terrible for my health.

Dark blog? Well, I do want our Queen to catch up so she might you know request my book (I know, super long shot) but still? It would be easier to go without food or air. I’m good with guest ghost writers. There are several dead writers I am certain could cover for our queen. Manuscript is plenty dead and volunteered and we could maybe dig Colin out of that oubliette.

*shudders and stumbles back to desk*

Karen McCoy said...

What BJ Muntain said.

Karen McCoy said...

I'm also in favor of maybe less days a week of posts. I only update my blog once a week, and if le Shark wanted to post with less frequency, I'd still be in the Reef.

Gayle said...

* peeks out of lurk mode *

I look forward to reading the blog, and the comments, every day, but I'll add my voice to those saying we'd understand if Janet needed to cut down on her frequency.

For those who want something every day, maybe a discussion question? Not something that would require an answer from a knowledgeable professional (not that there aren't any of those here), but more something like: Discuss favorite novels involving bicycles! Or favorite book to movie adaption! Or favorite techniques for brainstorming or some such. Then there could still be some of the discussion people enjoy participating in (or lurking and reading), but it wouldn't require much work on Janet's part.

Just an idea.

* re-enters lurk mode *

Steve Stubbs said...

47 fulls reminde me of the Roman army's ancient practice of decimation. To keep the troops motivated they would murder every tenth soldier, whether valiant or cowardly, whether genius or fool. Modern IT managers like to lay off 20-30% of the non-management staff every quarter, whether they contribute anything or not. The process is not random. They start with the oldest employees and work their way down the age ladder. They call that "keeping the company green." Performance is irrelevant age relevant. If any of them are older than 49, there is no worry any competitor will hire them.

That might work here. Roger Dawson published an excellent audio program years ago about decision making that recommends you go with your gut. Anything that has been around very long obviously does not excite you. An IT manager would just age discriminate the oldest 32 fulls out of the queue, sight unseen.

Julie Weathers said...


I didn't say I was in favor of it, I said if needs be, so it goes.

One of Us

I wish I could adopt you both. I would.

"To keep the troops motivated they would murder every tenth soldier, whether valiant or cowardly, whether genius or fool."

Decimation was used as a form of punishment and usually only for something serious, such as cowardice or mutiny, and it was very uncommon according to several historians.

Maurice forbade decimation because it wreaked havoc on morale.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Considering that we are all a lovely bunch of cocoNUTS, how about posting on odd OR even days. I vote for odd. Yeh, odd feels right.
You do know that as we ascribe our suggestions to the queen, it might be considered treasonous and we will all get a one way ticket to Carkoon.
My ticket is already punched so I'll see you there.
Hey Colin, meet me at the dock with one of your daughter's chocolate cakes will ya. I'll need chocolate by then.

Timothy Lowe said...

Another vacation pending for our dear QOTKU? The more we have, the better we a point. It's amazing, how much we fill our plates with. A wonderful banquet, all good.

Good blogs are a wonderful way to communicate, be read (and enjoyed), and draw a fierce community. I am glad for this one, and for the community it gathers. I am also glad for the notoriety and business it provides for Janet. Anything to further her evil ambition--

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

Janet, Perhaps a few days a week you could simply post a subject and then instruct The Reef to "talk among yourselves..." We sorta do that already, but preparing fewer question/response blogs might provide a bit more time to read.

Or here's a better idea: Pack up those 47 fulls and head down here to the sanctuary. There's a comfy rocking chair on the porch with a terrific view. I'll keep you fed and hydrated. Plus the added bonus of walks in the woods when you need to clear your mind. And horses.

John Davis Frain said...

Live blog from the sanctuary! I love it.

Melanie Sue, your comment, like a good story, begins with the writer and ends with the reader. My ending: Live with Janet at the Sanctuary. She reads the blog post, we all comment around the fire. And horses.

I don't see how she whittles her list of 47 in this scenario, but whittling seems like a natural occurrence at a horse sanctuary, so I expect it'll happen organically.

Great idea. Please send a Save The Date so we can all clear our calendars.

Brendalynn said...

As one of the forty-seven I say take your time. I'd rather have an acceptance (of course, being human) but given the option between a thoughtful rejection or a rushed one I prefer the former. My writing would be the better for it and realistically that's the whole point.

AJ Blythe said...

It's never easy knowing where the line in the sand is between polite and painful when it comes to nudging. Of course, our Queen's advice is gold. OP, good luck!

Like any Reider, I love this place and would miss it if I couldn't pop in each day. But I have to agree with Colin. When my "to do" list gets out of control, my stress levels do as well. None of us here want to be the cause of your high blood pressure. It's been a while since you took a break from blogging, maybe now is the time?

Last break you posted pics of Reiders' fur-kids. We survived. I reckon Melanie's idea of just posting a subject and letting us at it would keep the blog rolling while you take a sabbatical. Ask us for suggestions on topics, and then for the month of April we'll play nice.

I think you should also take Melanie up on her offer. I bet she's as good at caring for over-worked agents as she is horses.

And Julie, thanks to all the talk of the oubliette I'm going to have to dig out my copy of "Labyrinth" and persuade (ie bribe or blackmail) the Barbarians to watch it with me. =)

One Of Us Has To Go said...

Julie: Awwww, you make me emotional. I get your comment and what it's related to! Just read it out loud to my boyfriend. He smiled and said "How nice".

We also tried to consider your country, btw. He got many calls for IT jobs in the US, but they all want you to be eligible to work already.
But at the same time, we would have needed a company that sponsored him (or me but I can only provide my language skills and a manuscript...) to get a visa.

It's a catch 22, same thing here in Canada. Although there is a difference, but I'm not sure what and have zero energy left to figure it out. Don't hold me to wrong facts, I just don't know all about it in America ;).

We're now planning our itinerary for returning to Europe (and I'm scared I get blown up there; I'm paranoid since getting caught in the Paris attacks!). We want to go via the US to get to see at least New York City.

I believe you're in Texas, so we won't make it there, but I will be waving to you - wave back please 😍!

Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

Mama Mel,

When Janet gets to the sanctuary let me know. Will send poutine. And whiskey.

Julie Weathers said...

One of us, email me. Julie _ Weathers @

Panda in Chief said...

I've not been commenting much either, but I read the blog every day when it arrives in my email. I'm trying to keep up with work, so I don't always have time to read all the comments, but I'm always glad when I do. If going on a three times a week posting schedule would make more sense with your time crunches now, then we will all be okay.

Personally, if I were you, I'd take you up on Melanie's offer to do your reading on the front porch of the sanctuary.

Cheers to you all!

Kathy Joyce said...

Whew! I missed a lot today. I'm pretty sure Janet could post once a year and we'd keep talking until she came back.

BTW, I went back to work full-time this week. How the $#!@ do you others have the energy to write when you get ho...*snore*

Kathy Joyce said...

Of course, we'd miss Janet, but we'd rather have some of her time than risk her health.

Janet Reid said...

This is almost too ironic to be anything other than Divine Plan!
Next week is Holy Week. I customarily do not work Thurs-Sun during
Holy Week.

The blog is not going dark then, but I'd already set up pet photos from blog readers for those days BEFORE this thread started.

Of course, it's not going to help me winnow down the Requested Full stack...

And honestly, the time I spend on this blog isn't time stolen from reading. Answering your questions and posting daily helps keep me sharp.

The problems is that too many of you are writing terrific books. (please don't stop)

Anonymous said...

Yep, I agree with the others re taking some time off from actively blogging, Janet. You know darn well we can spend a month talking about our pets or pet peeves or any other topic you throw at us. There's no rule that says you have to wait until August. You're traveling to a conference in April anyway, might as well block out the entire month. Spend an extra day or two in Minneapolis and walk around Lake Calhoun (now named something lovely I can't spell or pronounce) and Lake of the Isles. It's a beautiful part of the city, great for sitting on a park bench and reading.

And if I may adapt and pass on some advice my grandma's brother once gave her as a child -- he told her to eat the despised crust of her bread first, while she was hungriest -- perhaps consider saving the most intriguing and promising mss for last. I know, it sounds counterintuitive when you want to find the very best fit as quickly as possible, before someone else does. But weeding through the ones you suspect probably aren't a good fit should go faster, and make a bigger dent in the pile, as you most likely won't need to read the entire thing to make a decision.

Sorry to neglect you, OP, but patience is your friend in this business. I hope you get the response you want, even if it takes longer than you'd like.

Colin Smith said...

... in fact, it was during Holy Week of 2015 (if memory serves) that we compiled the List of Blog Readers and their Blogs, so you can look up your fellow Reiders' social media sites and get to know them better while Janet's blog has a bit of a rest.

If you want to be on the list, or your entry on the list needs to be updated, shoot me an email (see my Blogger profile). :)

Anonymous said...

HA! I was typing while Janet was posting.

Alrighty then, challenge accepted. Let's see whether we can increase that number of requested fulls to an even 50. Or 60. Hell, let's go for the century mark.

KariV said...

Late to the party today, but better late than never.

My take on character flaws is that the flaw needs to drive the conflict or else it's superfluous. So:

Felix Buttonweezer, grief stricken after the death of his cactus - meets new cacti and must choose if it's time to move on.

Felix Buttonweezer, white knuckled sobriety a daily challenge - gets roped into a modern Prohibition movement.

Felix Buttonweezer, gifted surgeoun suffering from PTSD - is asked to treat soldiers on the battlefields of war-torn Afghanistan.

In these cases, the character must make a choice that therefore drives the story. It can make for great fiction. But just giving them flaws like grief, addiction, or PTSD to make them likeable or interesting is a No-No.

Happy Birthday, Colin!!! Mine is tomorrow!!! March birthdays rule!