Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The first sign this is not going to go well


Meredith-the-godsend and I look at each other. The Suzenator is standing on her desk, autographing dollar bills from her last heated auction. Meredith and I race each reach for the phone. I win.

Me: Hello, FinePrint!

Caller: Is this a literary agent?

Me: (not sure of my name or job title after 12 hour flight from Alaska) Yes?

Caller: Well, can you tell me what to do?

Me: ----pause--- I'm pretty sure what I'm actually thinking is the wrong answer here.

Caller: What?

Me: I'm sorry, what did you want to know?

Caller: I want to know how to send in my idea so it can be a book that gets published.

Me: Do you have access to the web? All the information is on our website.

Caller: What's the name of your website?

Me: (deeply suspicious that perhaps Dan Krokos is prank calling now) It's the name of the company.

Caller: Well, what's the name of your company?

Me: Do you know who you're calling?

Caller: You're a literary agent.

Me: Yes but do you know which one?

Caller: no.

Me: Madam, where did you get this number?

Caller: it's on a website.

Me: which website?

Caller: I don't know exactly. It's a website that has names and phone numbers of literary agents.

Me: Our website address is Please feel free to call again any time.

Only sixteen words of this are not true. You can pick which ones.


Dustin said...


I'll talk to her. Sorry Janet, she just loves my book so much that she can't help herself.

This reminds me. When are they going to make a reality show about Fine Print? It would be a HIT!

Anonymous said...

OMG! No wonder you like hanging out with Moose - or Mooses. What is the plural of moose?

Creepy Query Girl said...

Bwahahaha! I hope the last line is true. that's hilarious!

yafeng said...

very well

Sarah W said...

Let's see . . . I'll pick these:

(not sure of my name or job title after 12 hour flight from Alaska)
Because I'm thinking Meredith-the-godsend (and the Suzenator, if she hadn't been busy) would have provided gentle(?) reminders until the info registered.


I win.
Because you had to have that particular conversation. Again.

Harriett Starr said...

Oh and while you're at it, what is your phone number?

Scott said...

It's way too early in the morning for word problems . . . or active use of my brain cells. I'm guessing that the last line is false . . ., but not sure where the other few words are located. There's a reason I hated word problems during math! : )


Spiced Apple Eye said...

We used to get stuff like that at the bank in college town. You'd be surprised at people's ignorance. "Oh, that's my drinking ID, here's my real one."

"It's okay, I'm allowed to forge Mom's signature."

"But I have overdraft protection!" "and now you have debt and can't cash a check."

I enjoyed reading about the caller.

Laurel said...

I sincerely hope the last bit is true. Not that I have anything against WH, but that is just side-splitting.

Alicia Gregoire said...

Ha ha.

I know I shouldn't laugh, but this sounds like the conversations I get at work, minus the lit agent and add the doctors office or bank (I work in software). Even when I say the company name, people think I say "BANK NAME" or "DOCTOR'S OFFICE."

Kelley York said...

I think agencies should hire telemarketers to answer their phones.

"Hi, is this a literary agency? Can you read my book?"

"No, but let me tell YOU about the AMAZING deal I can get you! Imagine working on your next book in the comfort of your brand new time share!"

moonrat said...

I wish I thought you were making this story up. Sadly, experience tells me otherwise.

Dan Krokos said...

I wish I could take credit for this.

Stephanie Barr said...


We really aren't all clueless.

suzie townsend said...

As witness to this conversation, I believe you left out the line "You called someone and you don't know who it is?" :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm gonna guess some of them refer to the 12 hour flight from Alaska, because I've never been able to do it in less than 20.

Jude said...

roffles! You shark you

Loralie Hall said...

Oh, that was YOU I reached? Why didn't you say so on the phone?


BW said...

These are the 16 words:

"Me: Our website address is Please feel free to call again any time."

It works if you break into three words (Writers House com)

I hope you get better more intelligent calls in the future.

Dale Bishop said...

(deeply suspicious that perhaps Dan Krokos is prank calling now) It's the name of the company.

Anonymous said...

"Me: ----pause--- I'm pretty sure what I'm actually thinking is the wrong answer here."

HAHAHA Though - I bet you didn't pause for a second before saying that line. And I hope you did say that line, because it's a gem.

Richmond Writer - thanks! That reminds me...I should go shred some old i.d.s Ah, college. Good times.

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Hmmm. Writer's House appears mildly legitimate. I'm disappointed you didn't say "Publish America."

Josin L. McQuein said...

They must have stumbled onto "Everyone Who's Anyone".

You should get someone to record a "Moviephone" list that you can play at will when calls like that come in.


For information on what to do next, PRESS 1.

For information on how to sell your stellar idea, PRESS 2.

For information about how to locate our website, which is conveniently named the same as the listing in whatever registry gave you this number, PRESS 3

For information on how to find someone to tell you how to write the book yourself, PRESS 4

For back patting and handholding, PRESS 5

For an open-ended call to vent your frustration, PRESS 6

To be considered as canon fodder in one of our clients' next books, PRESS 7

To pitch the whole dang thing over the phone, query first, then your synopsis, and five pages (please enunciate clearly and spell any "odd" names of people, places, or species), Press 8

If you believe someone is still waiting to answer your questions, Press 9, then do some research.

Please be aware that pressing any number will result in the call being immediately terminated.

Thank you for calling. Have a nice day.


Please say this is a joke. Please?


Trisha Leigh said...

I personally love the description of what the Suzenator is doing at the time of said phone call. Priceless.

Jean said...

We used to get calls like this at the ROTC unit at Manhattan College, only they went like, "I want you to make my kid behave." The kid was 14. Um...we're a college program, but even then, that's not what we do.

Our secretary was wonderful in handling these calls. Unfortunately, he was only part time, and we had to field them the rest of the time.

ryan field said...

LOL...Writers House.

Derrick Camardo said...

If I pick the following:

"I'm pretty sure what I'm actually thinking is the wrong answer here."




"I'm sorry"

I'm left with one more word, I'm going to go with "Madam," because who says Madam anymore? Most people say Ma'am.

Unknown said...

Wow! Talk about research! Or lack thereof.

I, for one, wouldn't call a number I found on the internet unless I was 100% sure I knew who I intending to call!!

Fox Lee said...

Holy crap.

jjdebenedictis said...

Redleg: Never send a clueless wannabe writer to PublishAmerica. People get fleeced there.

Ms. Reid was pranking her competition, a much nobler endeavour. said...

I won't tell Merrilee this call was routed from you, but you do owe her a drink. :-)

Anonymous said...

check out It'll make you feel smart and reasonable, I promise. :)

Annette Lyon said...

I'd swear you made it all up, but I know there really are morons like this out there. Truth stranger than fiction and all that.

Chris Johnson said...

Appropriate time for the old Lily Tomlin line: "Is this the person to whom I am speaking?"

Unknown said...

"I don't know exactly. It's a website that has names and phone numbers of literary agents."

Anonymous said...

I should think it likely that the 16 words that are not true are lies of omission, all profane.

I fear this is another data point for my theory that modern technology, especially emergency medicine, is overcoming natural selection. Mother nature keeps trying to cull stupid ones from the herd, but modern life enables them to survive, prosper, and use telephones against all odds.

Seriously, if not provided with office employment and supermarkets, how long do you think this person would survive?

Steve Stubbs said...

Well, I don't know what the sixteen words are. I know you were sincere when you said, "Please feel free to call again any time." It makes perfect sense you would mistake a female voice on the telephone for Dan Krokos. Please tell us: Which Are The Sixteen Words?

Jan Markley said...

I'm a big fan of writers doing their homework! Especially, since there is so much info out there now with that new fangled world wide web!

Anonymous said...

Janet, your life certainly is never dull.

@terripatrick--as an Alaskan, I must tell you that the plural of moose is, well, moose.

However, in certain circumstances, the noun may change:

Today, I saw moose.
Yesterday, I saw mooses.
I shall see moosen.
I have seen meese.

Hope it helps!

pegasus358 said...

Thanks, Janet-- just what we need. Am I going to have to field a phone call from this person on Monday?

-Beth from Writers House, a mildly legitimate literary agency. :)