Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When do I want to hear from you? (this is not a trick question)

If you think the answer is never, you're wrong.

Here's the checklist (I'm big on checklists, have you noticed?)

1. Do I want to hear from you when you are ready to query? YES
How: email
What: send query. (don't send an email asking if it's ok to query; it is)

2. Do I want to hear from you if you didn't get a reply to your query in 30 days: YES
How: email
What: send the query again (don't ask if I got it, just send)

3. Do I want to hear from you when I ask you for a full: YES
How: email
What: .doc attachment (I acknowledge receipt of all fulls)

4. Do I want to hear from you IF you haven't heard back on a full in the amount of time listed in the acknowledgement: YES
How: email
What: "Dear Snookums, what's up with the hot novel I sent you on (date)"

5. Do I want to hear from you IF you've gotten an offer of representation and I'm reading your full: YES
How: email promptly please.
What: Let me know you're considering an offer, and how much time you have for your decision. I like to know who's offering too.

That's the list. Notice what's NOT on there:

1. You revised the manuscript
2. You revised the query
3. You left something off the query

4. You've got a question about what I want to see (the answer is YES, I want to read your query)
5. You got my request for a full and you'll get back to me when you're back from Pluto, vacation, etc.

Does this help?
I'll add to the list if you post your questions in the comment section.

And please note, this applies ONLY to people who are at the query stage. Hot prospects and clients get a whole new set of guidelines, mostly involving all-night liquor stores and speed dial.


Debra Lynn Shelton said...

I cracked up reading this post. You really should do stand-up comedy. I'm tweeting it. ;-)

David said...

I'm ready to query, but rather than be excessively literal, I'll wait until my manuscript is too.

sherry stanfa-stanley said...

Have no query questions, but can you give me the address of that all-night liquor store?

Annie Laurie Cechini said...

Who do I have to bribe to get on the hot prospect/client list? Oh wait...I'm a writer, I'm broke. Do cookie bribes count?

Christi Goddard said...

I feel so conflicted. I'm at the query stage, but already queried so you don't want to hear from me again, so am I still allowed to comment? It's contacting you, but blogging...

Kidding. You can't escape me. Mwa ha ha hah.

Stephanie McGee said...

Related question: I've heard lots of different things about acceptable timelines for sending partials/fulls (depending on what is in the query guidelines). A week, less than a week, etc. Your checklist item of not wanting to know if someone is on vacation and will get back to you prompts me to ask what an acceptable lag time between request and receiving the requested material would be. Does that make any sense?

Anonymous said...

You know there are quite a few psychiatric conditions that are characterized by an obsession with lists.

Just sayin'.

Lisa Desrochers said...

Got it Snookums.

Janet Reid said...

Hi Stephanie,
I generally like to get fulls the instant I request them, but since very few people (of the sane variety anyway) keep my hours I've been forced to learn patience.

I'd say a week is about all you'd want to let a request linger.

Of course, life does happen, and if you know you're going in for major surgery in two days, well, by all means let me know (I hope that example will be rarely if ever needed!)

What I don't EVER want is: I'll send it when I finish it/polish it/get it back from the crit group. All that should happen BEFORE you hit SEND.

I know a lot of agents aren't fast, but some of us ARE. Expect we'll be asking the second we read it. Be ready.

Janet Reid said...

worst baby, I'm not saying I ain't got any of em, but my fascination with checklists is based on this

The Checklist Manifesto

which I first read about in The New Yorker.

Daisy Whitney said...

This is very funny Janet! I violate the "when you revise the manuscript" one several times the first go round! I learned my lesson then!

Bethany C Morrow said...

I'm totally lizzing. And wishing you blogged more.

Joelle said...

Since I'm not querying, a client, or a hot prospect, I'll just give you a call when I want to talk to you.

Anonymous said...

Do we loose points for leaving out the "Snookums", Snookums?

Jessica Bell said...

Hey, you forgot the "btw, I've gotta bestseller on my hands - gonna make you a lotta cash - you'd be an idiot to turn it down - I'll give ya a call tonight to tell you how much I want from the publisher." Let me guess, on or off the list? Hmmm ...

Scott said...

Janet Reid, you always make me smile. Thanks . . . for the list, the post, and the morning smile!

Lisa Katzenberger said...

There was a debate about a specific situation on twitter the other day, which is a variation on your point 5. What if a writer has sent you a query, hasn’t heard anything back from you (30 days haven’t passed), but has received an offer of representation from another agent. Would you want that writer to let you know about the other offer, even if you haven’t gotten to the query yet?

Michelle Kollar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Ing said...

I did that last one, actually; I had a request for a full when I was in Paris and I didn't have a copy of the manuscript while I was there. I wrote the agent to tell her so, but that didn't seem to bother her...is there a reason we shouldn't do that? Is it because, on average, you don't mind if a full takes a few extra days to roll in?

Jessica Nelson said...

You're hilarious! I always laugh when I read your posts.
Thanks for the break-down. Very helpful.

Heather Wardell said...

Thanks for mentioning "The Checklist Manifesto". Looks neat, and I've added it to my "get at the library" list. (If it weren't $20 for the eBook, I'd have it right now!)

I promise to only email as required, Snookums. (How badly do I want to get to introduce you as, "This is my agent, Snookums"? Really very badly.)

Anonymous said...

Very helpful checklist (checklists rule). Alas, I've queried you once and received a kind 'no'. Bummed querying revised manuscript is a no-no, but I'm still learning tons from your blogs. Thanks for helping us newbie writers!


JEM said...

Question for you on number 2: should the sender indicate that it was sent previously, or just resend as if sending for the first time? Thanks!

Lydia Kang said...

Excellent list, and I love lists. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Is there any point in trying to sell an idea for a novel rather than a finished manuscript? I suppose you could see if the idea has legs, rather than write the entire story only to find out the idea is a re-hash and not a good one at that.

And on a semi-related tangent: what are the chances of having a blog turned into a book? Mimi Smartypants had luck with that. Is she the exception to the rule?

mallard said...

When I do make it out to Pluto for a vacation, and if return alive, will it matter if I don't have platform when I send my non-fiction proposal? I'm assuming that the planet/Kuiper belt object controversy will generate interest in the book.