Thursday, April 04, 2019

Meet the newest woodland creature and his rodent wheel -wheeeeeeee!

I recently attended the KALE writer's conference where I participated in a pitching event. There I pitched my manuscript to Agent X who seemed highly interested, which made sense because it seemed to be something similar to other works she'd sold. She gave me her card and asked for pages.

This is where I made my first mistake; I didn't ask if she replied to all, or how long I could expect it to take. On the other hand it was a pitch event so... argh.

I got home, read the directions on her card carefully, and sent what was requested. However, one line did give me pause, 'put conference name in subject line.' I put "Kill All Lettuce Here Conference" spelled out exactly as written there. She only takes queries from conferences so I figured that made sense.

But now I'm well past her normal response window, according to query tracker, and I haven't heard anything. She's already announced signing clients from the event, and I think she's requested fulls from others who were there. So I did a bit of research. That confirmed I got the email address correct and that I did comply with submission guidelines, sending no more or less than requested. 

Then, after a bit more digging, I found this on her MSWL page, "If she asks for your submission at an event... Put the name of the event in the email’s subject line or it will be auto-rejected."

Cue oh crud moment. The writer's conference is usually abbreviated to KALE and I wrote it out all funny-like. (1) If a computer is doing the filtering and I didn't put in an approved name for the conference my email probably got routed to spam without a human ever setting eyes on it. Which brings me to my problem; how the heck do I go about nudging? For contacts the agent in question has the email address that may have already eaten my query and a twitter handle.

(2) - Would it be polite to ask anything at all via twitter? That way I could be sure of her seeing it... along with about 15,000 other people.
(3) - Plan B would be to slap KALE on the subject line of a nudge email and ask if they got the first one. However, if the 'tag' for that conference has been de-activated in the weeks since I would be poking an electronic email deletion-drone...
(4) - Plan C would be to do plan B but re-send the whole query. Would that be better?

This is driving me up the wall.She seemed excited by my description of the book and apparently loved every additional detail I offered. Her last remark before I got up was that there was a big market for stuff like what I'd described. She may just be very nice and a great actor, but if not I'd hate to miss even getting my work in front of her because of IT issues. (5) However, I'd also hate to commit some nudge faux-pas and get turned down because I'm a jerk, can't follow directions, etc.

You have made the classic mistake of assuming that agents have 36-hour days and respond to all inquiries in a timely fashion. Cue merry laughter here.

My guess is she's working her way through more than a few requests from that conference. Along with everything else she needs to do in a day and week.
As for your specific questions:
(1) The computer isn't sorting. When someone (including me) says it gets rejected instantly what it means is my eyeballs land on it; I see it's (any of my auto pass criteria); and, I put it in the trash bin.

There are certainly some things that I block at the source (ie it bypasses my inbox and goes straight to trash) but those are NEVER conference related because the chances of the sorting system screwing up are 100%.

What I block are email addresses or key words in a query that someone has sent me more times than I want to think about.

(2) Do this and die. I will personally come to your house and steal your dog, and bop you on the head with a bag of kale.

Never EVER use Twitter for follow up, questions on queries that an agent has or updates of any kind. Never.

(3) Query Agent X again, using KALE in the subject line and use her regular query address. But ONLY after another couple weeks. Give her a chance here.

(4) see above.

(5) no one is going to think that. You're not even in the ball park for asshattery.

You're just diving in to the query trenches is my guess. You don't have a lot of perspective or experience yet.

You sent one query to an agent.
She, on the other hand, got 62 queries and however many requested fulls. It's going to take some time.
Learn to pace yourself of you're going to expire of heart failure and that would be a Very Bad Thing.


Timothy Lowe said...

I'd like to see Janet stealing a dog.

Seriously. It would be hilarious. Reminds me of the dog-napping incident in Hiaasen's "Sick Puppy". Crazy eco-terrorist steals the guy's Labrador and renames him McGinn (the dumb litter-bug who owned him had named him "Boodle").

Lesson? A stolen dog nearly always results in funny hijinks.

Yeah OP -- take your time, breathe, and resend the query. Agent X will not be offended.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

"I will personally come to your house and steal your dog,"

Come to my house and I will gladly GIVE you my dog because I know you will return him after about 5 minutes of constant barking. Eventually he'll calm down until a leaf skitters across the lawn then watch out 'new' leaf.

Claire Bobrow said...

Janet can have my dog, too. The poor critter got me up at 2:30am and 4:30am for a stroll in the garden. Now I need a bathtub full of coffee.

OP: I hope you got some relief from Janet's advice. Congrats on capturing an agent's attention, and good luck!

Craig F said...

Do you steal cats too? I have been a dog guy most of my life, until being shanghaied by cats, I might want to head back there some day, but have eight cats looking to me.

I got bored at 0400 t'other day. I knocked over my hamster wheel and turned it into a roulette wheel. It hasn't won me anything, but it is more fun.

Need more fun while I also wait, wait and wait some more. I have four queries to close, probably today, because there has been no response in six weeks.

Some of them said that they answer, maybe they will, I could use a surprise or two along this perilous road through the trenches.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Welcome to the Query Trenches, OP. Hang out here at the Reef. We'll buy the drinks. You'll need lots of them, even if you are not the drinking sort. Query more agents. Lots more. Then the one that is flopping in the wind won't bother you near so much.

Well, no, I am lying. Keep checking your inbox every 23 seconds. That is how this is done. I am talking from experience.

CED said...

Speaking of conferences (how's that for a segue?), is anyone planning on going to Muse and the Marketplace this weekend?

(I don't mean to derail the comments, but am curious if there will be other Reef members there.)

Janet Reid said...

CED It's not derailing the comments to reach out for connections like this.

It's also not derailing/hijacking etc to tell us about writing successes.

One of the things I value most here is the community and the sharing.

Lennon Faris said...

OP, here's a glass of water! Good luck!

If the dog-napper had food, my gentle ol' girl would likely stampede me to go with. Gotta love dogs.

CED I am not, but it looks fantastic. Hope you have a great time.

Amy Johnson said...

OP, Craig, Elise, and anyone else currently querying: Hang in there! Last time I was querying, I got some pleasant surprise responses quite a while past when I figured I probably wouldn't be hearing back. And please do share news. For those I know are querying, I read your comments with anticipation.

julie.weathers said...

I dreamed about Janet last night. It involved sending her a strange, but awesome gift. And now she gives us a strange, but awesome, gift.

"Do this and die. I will personally come to your house and steal your dog, and bop you on the head with a bag of kale."

My ex's niece stole a dog once. Technically a few dozen, I suppose. Virginia and Mary (sisters-in-law) were visiting from Alaska, so the family had come in to see them including the outlaw, but pretty fun niece, Pam. Mary was the vice president of the largest bank in Alaska and often appeared before congress as an expert witness in bank fraud cases. Virginia worked for a lawyer. She was tall, willowy, and very elegant. Her daughter Pam was the opposite.

Pam disappeared one night we assumed to go buy snacks or get cigarettes. She came back about an hour later with a huge Mastiff type dog.

"Pam, where did you get that dog?" Her mother had that I-don't-really-want-to-know look, but had to ask.

"From the pound."

"It's after dark. Aren't they closed?"

"Well, yes. That's the best time to steal a dog."

My very religious mother-in-law humphed and glared at her miscreant granddaughter.

"You did what?"

"I stole him. I climbed over the fence and turned all the dogs loose, but he was so sweet, I had to keep him."

Mary, who was sipping her "iced-tea", choked slightly. "Oh, dear. I think I need some more tea. Daddy,(she had to raise her voice because he was a little hard of hearing.) would you like some more iced tea?"

"Iced tea? Hell, bring me some more of that whiskey."

My very religious, did I mention that, mother-in-law didn't allow drinking in her house. Bill had been kind of a rounder in his younger years and she certainly didn't allow him to drink now that she had him completely under her thumb in their elder years. Vicky humphed and retired to her room to play gospel music on her phonograph, very loudly.

Mary retired to her room to fetch the bottle of scotch and refill everyone's tea.

"You did what?" Virginia gasped. If she'd had pearls, she would have been clutching them.

"I saved all the dogs at the pound."

"Couldn't you just go adopt one?"

"That costs money and that would be one. This way I saved them all."

Virginia later became a judge, probably as penance for her daughter's life of crime as a dog burglar. I assume most of the dogs were recaptured, but they got good press and hopefully many were adopted. The shelter put up cameras not long after that.

Anyway, back to the post for today. Yep, I agree, OP is running his or her little hamster legs off. I spoke to one agent at a conference and she told me she certainly didn't request things she didn't really want to see, but she did have a tendency to request more than she might normally. So, it was always busy after a conference. Not only are they trying to catch up on neglected business, but there's the everyday stuff that HAS to be dealt with. Plus, now you have a rush of requested material coming in.

Good luck and congratulations.

Janet Reid said...

If anyone here ever wondered why I will leap tall buildings, swim croc-infested rivers, ACTUALLY LEAVE NYC to get my mitts on a Julie Weather book, well, look no further than the comment above.

"If she'd had pearls, she would have been clutching them."
Next flash fiction prompt?
I think so!

John Davis Frain said...

Scoot over, Julie, I wanna sit next to Mary and her iced tea. Couple more sips, and she's gonna start telling some juicy stories from your past. I'll be the one taking notes.

Cheers, Mare. Lemme top that off for ya...

julie.weathers said...

Oh, Janet and Dr. Frain. You are very sweet. Thank you.

Sherry Howard said...

Loving today’s reminder of community, and Julie’s truly southern story. I feel like she attended my family reunion.

I was recently a guest on the podcast Reading With Your Kids to recognize World Autism Day. When I received the recording, it was filled with my two yapping dogs! I hadn’t even noticed because I’m so used to them. Mortified! Janet, I have messaged you my address, and left the sliding patio door open until further notice. Don’t be alarmed by the rifle—it’s a civil war re-enactment prop.

CED said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Janet!

Alas, it looks like I may be the Reef's sole representative, if the response I got is any indication. Don't worry, I'll do you all proud, and bring anything interesting I learn back here!

julie.weathers said...


I may not even be going to Surrey this year. However, do report back on all the good stuff that happens and even the bad.

Have fun. Good luck. Do us proud.

AJ Blythe said...

Good luck, OP. Querying needs scotch, chocolate and a dash of humour. Hope you have plenty in store.

Janet steals dog. DoY gives her *that* look. "Thumbs, get that thing out of my apartment. You must pet me and feed me salmon in penance."

Julie, love your story and hope Janet leaves NYC soon to get that book.