Thursday, December 20, 2012

How To find out if your agent is an idiot-part IV**

One of my editor friends forwarded an email this morning.

When I read it, I couldn't believe my eyes!

Dear Editor:

On October 15th I sent you a pitch inviting you to consider  (title), by (author). On November 14th I sent you a follow up to make sure that you had received the pitch because I had not heard back from you.

I have unfortunately not received a response from you after the second e-mail either, so you're either not receiving my e-mails or you're very busy. I will therefore regretfully have to redirect this invitation. If you find this message after the fact, please accept my apologies for having to withdraw this manuscript, but we usually receive a lot of interest in manuscripts I have been asked to keep to a timeline.

If you do receive this e-mail, and would like to see the manuscript, please let me know today, because of course I would prefer to work with you on this project!

Oh Agent baby, that ship has sailed.  Most editors I know don't like to start out being scolded by agents for being unresponsive.  Even if it's true (and it's NOT for this particular editor) it's not a particularly successful sales technique.

I thank you for your time, and hope that we can work together on another project in the near future.

I hope for lots of things too.

Aside from annoying the snot out of a perfectly nice editor, what does this mean?

For you, the author, it means your work got withdrawn before an editor ever read it.

This is YOUR work being pitched, and you can ask to see a submission sheet from your agent with dates on it.  Dates that a manuscript was pitched, dates that the agent followed up.

Obviously every agent works in their own way.  And while it's true that time does have a tendency to get away from us all, and Hurricane Sandy messed up lots of submissions this fall, you should have a sense your agent is actively working on your project while on initial submission.

And your agent should be willing to share those details with you. It's YOUR project, your career.

Keep each list and if it's clear that your "agent" is "withdrawing" your manuscript from one editor and pitching another at the same house, that's a red flag. It happens but not often.  And pulling a ms after two emails, absent some other set of circumstances, is just plain strange.


Leah said... comment on the beauty of Ryan Reynolds instead of the content of this helpful blog post...

I failed.

J.L. Murphey said...

I misread the beginning as an author messaging an agent. Oh boy, guess who won't get a second glance from an agent visiting this editor ever again. Let alone the house. They might have placed their forefinger and thumb outstretched at a 45 degree angle on their forehead!

Janet Reid said...

Leah, that's Ryan Gosling, or as I like to think of him, the next Mr. Shark.

Nobilis Reed said...

So how long to agents generally wait to hear back?

How many editors do they generally pitch at one time?

I ask because when an author pitches a novel, they're often under "No simultaneous submission" rules, and often have to wait several months for a response from any given market.

Anonymous said...

Wait. Someone actually got The Gosling wrong?


BP said...

Oh, my. Just when we thought Editors were some of the most over-worked, efficient, helpful people, we are reminded by THIS letter that they are OBVIOUSLY driveling idiots who can't tie their shoes...or keep an agent's oh-so-important 'deadlines' in mind. Sheesh. Good thing we remembered!

Jane Lebak said...

I would ask how this agent feels when you send him or her a full, follow up one month later, and then withdraw it one month after that to submit to his or her office-mate in the same agency. "Oh, but if you see this email after the fact and still want to represent me, let me know!"

If the agent would be fine receiving such an email, then it may just be that the agent is fairly relaxed about this sort of thing and can't imagine there's any problem with pulling a manuscript from a busy editor to find one less busy. Obviously we have no clue who this is, but could it be a junior agent who just needs a little more mentoring? That's a more charitable explanation than the agent being an idiot. :-)

Eric Steinberg said...

If this email is typical of past communications by the agent, the editor has a good reason for not responding.

I have no comment about Ryan Gosling.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the full belly laugh I experienced while scrolling down your wish list. It was much needed and appreciated. While I admire the horses on the beach and covet that beautiful closet, I must respectfully disagree with your choice of shark mate. If you could just insert Henry Cavill circa his short haired Tudors days, I would be in full agreement...though, I must admit, Ryan Gosling isn't a bad second.

Your Chum,
The Jersey Girl

Michelle Kollar said...

I know new authors do this. ("For a limited time! The clock is ticking! Buy my book now!") It's not a car and people have their preferences. No ones going to spend their time and money on something they can't sell.

I can't imagine an agent messing with their connections for one book.

Very strange...

Shaunna said...

Ryan Gosling is wonderful, but that laundry room...oh my! I think I've managed a household of four small children for too long.

Michael Seese said...

Ryan Gosling? No that's ME! (He has often told me that people on the street come up to him, having made the same mistake.)

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

I'm not all that fan-girly or even girly for that matter, but in spite of that, I rather love that Ryan Gosling is still someone who makes it into the "wish for lots of things" list.

Wait, was there a higher purpose to this post? ;-)

Terri Lynn Coop said...

"Hey Girl . . . let me carry that stack of manuscripts for you so you can carry the cupcakes and scotch."

Chelsea Pitcher said...

It's sad to think this agent's authors may never know s/he is doing this.

Buzz Malone said...

Can I get this agent's number? She sounds like just the sort of tenacious go getter I've been looking for to represent my chapbook collection of ill tempered poetry. If at first you don't hell with 'em!