Friday, May 01, 2015

Query Question: pitching an unfinished novel with a backlist

I'll be attending RWA in July and intend to pitch agents. I've been told more than once not to pitch unless I have a ms polished and ready for sale, but I have a dilemma with that. Here's the situation.

I have a book releasing with a small publisher in June, and two more books completed and in the hopper with the same publisher, scheduled to release at the end of 2015 and early 2016. Since I can point to these three novels with regard to how I've been spending my time, will agents be okay with the fact that the book I'm pitching (contemporary romance, 95-100,000 w) will be incomplete with only a synopsis and five chapters written? (2)

It seems ridiculous to attend RWA and pass up the opportunity to pitch just because of timing. If the conference were in November instead of July, the ms would be complete. I have a track record to prove that I finish what I start. Will that be good enough for most agents, or will the lack of a completed and polished ms be a deterrent? (3)

If a deterrent, can I still schedule to pitch but use the time to ask for feedback on my query letter? (4)
Would that be considered bad form? (I don't want to waste anyone's time.) (1)

Let's take these questions in numerical order.

(1)  YOU ARE NOT WASTING MY TIME TALKING TO ME ABOUT YOUR WORK or your query.  Like every agent worth having, I make my living from the work you trust me to sell.  Even if your query needs work; even if your book does not fit my list, it is NEVER a waste to time to talk to a writer who is serious about his/her career, and may be a potential client (ie REVENUE SOURCE.) And clearly you are in that category (for starters, you're reading this blog)

DO NOT EVER let me hear you talking about wasting my or any agent's time again, or I will get on my broom and fly to your house and bring you a Woodland Creatures Cake....and I'll leave the cake server at HOME.

*rant over*

(2&3) Given your publication history, I think agents will be confident you can finish the book. They can probably tell you if this new one fits in a category they want to consider. They'll probably want you to finish the book but you're right, an unfinished ms in your case is not the same as an unfinished ms from an unpubbed writer. You'll want to have a reasonable estimate of when you'll be finished with the novel (which you do seem to have now.)

(4) Yes.

RWA is in New York this year so a lot of editors and agents will be there. You'd be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity.  Bring your query, bring a list of your published books, and get as much info as you can during your meeting times.

And bring your parasol. It's going to be hot and muggy. 


Kitty said...

bring your parasol

And matching reticule.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

New York City in July is about as physically pleasing as a French kiss form Moms Mabley. If you can get past the yuck-factor you will have a great time. Good luck.

For those of you who don't know who Moms was, you have missed one of the best.
For those of you who have never been to NYC, at any time of year, go.

But, don't forget to check for bedbugs.

Anonymous said...

Every single time I think I have a handle on this thing...

Nope nope nope.

I'm glad Janet answers these things publicly and I'm glad authors at all ranges and different places are willing and bold enough to offer their question up.

The regurgitation machine in my head had me repeating "Don't pitch agent without finished ms." But Janet seems to be indicating indirectly that the reason for this is to prove the level of commitment to writing an author posesses.

Is that right? Is the reason agents want a completed manuscript in the first place because they don't believe an unpublished author has any idea how hard it is to finish a book or how long it takes?

If that's true, it certainly makes a lot of sense.

Fellow carkoonians? Janet? Make me smarter. I need it. ;)

Unknown said...

I was with brian on this one. Do not pitch until the ms is polished to a painful glare. But this OP makes sense and so does Janet's reply.

At a writers conference the opportunity is there to take, it would be silly to miss out due to timing. Now, if you're querying agents from your couch, then the ms should be ready to go.

Good to know. I bet I could walk to New York.

AJ Blythe said...

I've pitched at conferences with completed mss with varying degrees of success in terms of requests.

But then last year I didn't have a complete ms, instead used my pitch times to get 5 mins with industry professionals to ask Qs. I was upfront and said no ms, but yada yada yada. Without fail I got requests for not 1 but 2 books from all three editors/agents (2 Oz and 1 US) I talked with. Freaked me out actually because it wasn't why I was 'pitching'. Just got told to 'write fast'. And yes, I'm unpublished.

So I don't think it matters whether or not you have a completed ms or not as long as the approach you take is honest and appropriate.

Good luck, OP, with your pitches!

Donnaeve said...

I have nothing of value to add to this except on the topic of muggy.

At around, oh, say May or so, the weather forecasters around here start to predict our DEW POINT and RELATIVE HUMIDITY. We, (southerners) know when they start to do that, we best get ready for the daily steam bath which these forecasters love to describe as "juicy." In context to what they're talking about, I hate that word. I can deal with muggy, humid, or, if perhaps i f they wanted to make us feel better about the fact that our clothes are going to cling to our skin like Saran wrap, they could simply state that it's going to be a sultry day.

Good luck at RWA!

Julie said...

Which brings me to two questions which I thought I had answered - but now, I'm not so sure (shuffles adolescent fins in angst).

Premise - like half the world, I, too, will be attending WD Con in August (And there was Much Rejoicing - YAY!).

My internal hypothesis: "Interacting with Agents there will be like interacting with them in Query Letters, only in person - I choose them the same way, approach them the same way, and say basically the same things."

Current Dilemma - once again, nubile Ramora, you appear to be Wrong.

1) Great White seems to be implying, "Show me your work and let me decide whether I'm the right fit for you." In Query World, it seems to be, "Read my website. See where it says, 'I don't take fantasy'? It's because I don't take fantasy. Move along, please. These are not the droids you're looking for."

So at WD's Pitch Vomit... Er... Slam, am I just speed dating anyone who will listen, then, regardless of who the heck they are (but allowing my pulse to jump accordingly when I know likely candidates are sitting actoss from me)? Or do I self-select as I'd initially planned?

2) On future works, here again, I'd planned to go Query World (my Safe Zone, which tells you something if you were here on Monday pulling me out of my nervous breakdown tree)

Kitty said...

Donnaeve, your comment reminds me of the movie THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN and its most famous line: The night was sultry.

Julie said...

SighPhone... It keeps doing that. Freezing and publishing. Anyway.

So in Query World, if you have a series and subscribe to the Book of Janet Chapter Seven Verse 30, it says not to list the other four books you've written - but acknowledges the debate among the other branches of Agent Religion. I, as it happens, have other words in five subsequent books, many of which are largely ready to go, though two could still use some more time. So do I bring them up? No, the books are not published. But I am as rear to the grindstone as anyone I know, in the library writing five to eight hours a day when I'm not editing or learning on here. Deadlines do mean something to me for the League for which I write, and I think that comes across - so what do I do?

Thank you, fellow jellyfish to sharks,
Intrepid Reporter Koi Kent

Julie said...

And it just goes to show what happens when you try to use FB taggies on blogspot - I tried to put ...coughfivemillion... between those little greater/less than brackets and it ended up with "other." Ah well.

And, Janet, I've switched to mystery because those indy pubs I've hired (yes, I'm expecting to be losing a limb, but if it's getting the bloody QL's out there - and yes, they're written by me, in my voice - then it's worth it, IMHO; I just want to be sure they know what they're doing) have told me to leave Angylaidd alone for the duration. So, no more Angels.

Be afraid.

Be very afraid.

Alex <--- This one is perhaps too obscure, but I'll put it there anyway

Donnaeve said...

Kitty! I've never watched that movie, but OMG, that bit of clip? That was perfect!!!

Anonymous said...


Some friends and I are debating Denver and Surrey this fall for writing conferences. Part of the decision for some of us is whether we have an agent by then or not. As much as I detest pitching, I'll do it if I need to.

Honestly, both conferences are slim pickings for epic fantasy. I'll still be following the agent's guidelines as to what they rep. I know Janet says query widely and I've actually been invited to query by some agents who don't rep fantasy because they find some of my Stupid Stuff amusing.

I just detest pitching enough I'm not going to inflict my blabbering on agents who don't want epic fantasy.

2. I skipped out early on a dinner at Surrey and decided to go to the bar. A perfectly lovely agent from the Maass Agency was at the bar, so I sat down near her and offered to buy her a drink. She invited me to sit with her. I asked her if she was enjoying herself. I knew who she was, of course, but didn't talk about my books. We just chatted. Talked about romances. I don't write them, but we had a few laughs.

She asked about the buckle I was wearing. It's a champion bronc riding buckle my son won. She thought I might have won it. "Nope, I used to ride, but never got anything, except a few broken bones and I earned those. I'm going to write a book about a group of lady bronc riders...."

"And that's how you pitch it. If you ever write it, send it to me. What else do you write?"

I told her. She handed me her card and told me to send it.

So, you never know. I mean they still need something to look at, but something you have simmering might pique their interest. I realize now former agents signed me for the suspense novel, but really wanted the historical I was working on.

Colin Smith said...

If this was a quiz show, I too would have got the answer to 2&3 wrong.

[By the way, there's a blog post idea: a pop quiz on publishing--how much have we really learned from following the blog, or have we been skipping the articles just to chat in/read the comments? :)]

I too would have said, "pah! published books? Irrelevant! You only query complete and polished novels!" And that's why I'm not an agent. Well, that and all the talking on the telephone and staring at contracts. And I'm nowhere near well-read enough. Okay, so there are a ton of reasons why I'm not an agent, which is why I don't want to self-pub... hang on... wrong topic. Sorry! Where was I...? Oh yes, that's right. Querying unfinished novels.

OK. So being published (presumably regardless of whether self- or traditionally-) makes a difference to whether you can pitch an unfinished novel, like it was a non-fiction proposal.

Now, here's a question: Does this only apply to pitches at a conference (i.e., in-person), or are you now expecting to be inundated with queries from published authors selling you on their current WiP? [WiP = Work in Progress]

And to Donna's point, that's one of the things I don't like about NC summers--humidity. Ukkk! You walk outside and the air feels warm and heavy. You breathe a little deeper, move a bit slower. I can't imagine how they survived in the days before A/C! [A/C = Air Conditioning]

OK, enough vommenting from me. For now. :)

Julie said...

Colin, let me just say for the record (FTR, as opposed to FTW or FDR) that I love reading your comments. They read like some manic dude pacing wildly in an office scrubbing his fingers through his hair and puffing desperately on a cigarette as he dictates to his secretary, "Did you get that? Are you sure? Did you get that?"


1) On Fantasy and It Stinking Like Bad Onions or I Didn't Want To Get On This Horse But Here I Am And Now I'm Stuck With It: What I really wanted to do was write historical fantasy. Really, terribly, a lot. I love European history, and there were so many points in time when human beings just... sucked. And I really wanted to have characters that I could write who were as aware as I am of the many opportunities mankind had had NOT to suck - and missed. But that would mean characters who had lived an AWFULLY long time. Wellll... therein lies the rub, doesn't it? Either kill the characters or make it fantasy. I like my characters.

I stuck the Archangel Michael in - and BAM! I lost half of the lit firms in NYC, without even realizing I was doing it.

See, the thing was, I was dying at the time, and in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't do my research. Wrote the thing - 110,000 words - in three weeks.

But then I survived, got a little better, wrote the next book in four weeks, and now here I am, Shark-less and stuck with fantasy, but I DO love the characters, and I am absolutely passionate about pointing out that, MAN there were so many opportunities for human beings NOT to suck that we just LOST. Like right now, across THIS VERY NATION (although we may pull it out in the ninth inning, we'll see). But I digress.

Anyway, my point was, it isn't really classical fantasy in the "elves and arrows and spells" sense of the term - it's fantasy in the "historical fiction that Julie had to stick Angels into to save her characters" sense of the term. :)

Which may, in the end, plop it straight into fiction, as Gabaldon's time travel did for her - but we'll see.

I just don't want to waste *ANYBODY'S* time at that Pitch-Puke Slam - theirs OR mine. I'm there to sell the MS-es, (and by then there may be a mystery, but that is more of a tagline at this point) but I'm also there to learn and to meet people. And I don't want anyone to smell the bad onions, if you know what I mean. :)


Three Day Old Fish

Julie said...

Sorry. I meant "historical fiction," not "historical fantasy." My error.

It's stuck in my head, now, you see, and I'll never be the same again.

Senile Fish

Susan Bonifant said...

I love the "Guess what Janet will say" game. I aced this one because I live my life around a fact that I learned embarrassingly late in life:

You have to be up to score in baseball.

ReCAPTCHA put a picture of gingerbread with the other breads. They're so sneaky.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Awww... thanks! And I don't even smoke. :)

Susan: We'll have to come up with a snappy name for it (geddit? shark? snappy? hahahaha... Dad humor/humour). "Jump the Shark"? That sounds more like we're trying to mug Janet, not guess what she would say. Probably not a good idea. I like my limbs.

Patchi said...

Maybe it's because I'm reading Gail Carriger's novel, Soulless, but the idea that one would need a parasol to brave an assembly of agents and editors has a completely different meaning to me than the one you probably intended. I hope hot and muggy applies to the weather.

Kitty said...

Donnaeve, the movie is about a writer, played by Billy Crystal, who suffers writer's block. From Wiki: "Throw Momma from the Train is a 1987 American black comedy film directed by Danny DeVito, and starring DeVito and Billy Crystal, with Rob Reiner, Anne Ramsey...{snip}...inspired by the 1951 Alfred Hitchcock thriller Strangers on a Train, which also plays a role in the film."

Dena Pawling said...

A shark on a broom. Interesting visual. When I googled it, I got this

I would bring the synopsis and five chapters that are already finished [or at least the synopsis and first chapter]. That way you have something to show agents if they ask. I would also bring my query for feedback. AND, I would also bring a copy of the book releasing in June. Because, as I tell my clients when preparing for trial, BRING EVERYTHING, even if you don't think you'll need it, because you never know what a judge will want to see. A prepared witness, even if nervous, comes across as professional and trustworthy. A bumbling witness comes across as the opposite.

Just be sure you tell agents that the ms you're pitching won't be finished and ready until November. That way they'll know to expect it later in the year, and not right after the conference.

Good luck at RWA!

Susan Bonifant said...

Let the naming begin: Here's my contribution:

Planet Janet.

Today, on Planet Janet, a writer asks: "If I do finish my book, and do have it edited and read, and do feel very confident about the plot, pacing and narrative drive, and do have a killer query should I mention that if it does become a movie I would like Russell Crowe to be the MC?"

Flowers McGrath said...

Great question and even better answer full of much needed reality check! I constantly worry about wasting anyone's time. Even and especially with, who to query.

AJ Blythe thanks for sharing your experience, too.

Imagining Ms. Reid on a shark, on a flying broom. Or on a flying broom with a shark under one arm. Excellent image!

Kitty said...

The night was...........

Julie said...

Dena -

And yet, if you Google "Witchshark," you get something entirely different. As in, "And now for something..."


And as for bringing everything necessary for the trial, if I'm writing a new murder mystery... Now I have all sorts of images in my head about me setting up this scene in front of a panel of Agents sitting there looking at me with "Are you KIDDING me?!" faces while I go on with, "No, wait, really, hang on, let me just set up the sailboat over here... and the victim here... it'll just take a sec, I swear..."

Perhaps I should bring some liquor to hand out.

Bold, Tenacious, Brave, Extremely Imperfect...
Lower School...

Julie said...

@Kitty - Dark And Stormy?

And the Captain said to Nero...
"Tell us your story."

And Nero said,

"It was a dark and stormy night. And the Captain said to Nero..."

See, this is why I usually lurk. Lurking is much healthier for me. I can hear the Jaws music playing ominously in the background. Or maybe it's just the traffic on Rte 7 - I'm not sure.

Polite, Wary....

LynnRodz said...

Ooh, Colin, you are really doomed, "...or have we been skipping the articles just to chat in/read the comments?" I sometimes skip over the comments when they become too long, but I never skip over what Janet writes. It's the main reason for coming here.

(Janet, can I have time off again for good behavior?)

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Don't worry, I'll make sure you get a nice cave here in Carkoon. :)

Colin Smith said...

*looks teary-eyed at LynnRoz* Really? You skip the comments?

*makes note to randomly mention LynnRoz in his comments to make sure she's paying attention* ;)

Colin Smith said...

See... LynnRodz probably didn't even notice I misspelled her name... :D

Mister Furkles said...

It's hot and muggy in New York in July? Really?

Tell them to schedule the next year's conference in southern Arizona. The Sonoran Desert is just lovely in July and August. Phoenix and Tucson are real party towns in late summer. And do not forget your umbrellas and hooded slickers because it is also monsoon season.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend as I intend to be north of the Arctic Circle then.

Anonymous said...

To the original petitioner.

First off, congratulations on the published books. How exciting for you.

Second have fun at RWA. I have several friends who write romance. I have not a romantic bone in my body, so I wouldn't have a clue where to start, but I do appreciate a well written one. Good job.

Third, never pass up an opportunity.

I was in a feed store buying used ropes to make bowls one day when an older cowboy came up to me and commented on my silver watch. Then he started in with a line of bull that would charm the rattles off a snake.

I finally laughed and asked him how successful he was with this. "Well, I do all right considering I ain't that purty. The only opportunities you really miss are the ones you don't take."

Julie said...

@Julie - c'mon.

Admit it.

You were really buying ropes for your date with Christian Grey.


Brain Coral

Colin Smith said...

Julie: No-one could read your stories and conclude you don't have a romantic bone in your body. You write with love. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Kitty...funny movie, awesome clip. How do you guys find that stuff? Do you remember it from watching it, Google it, how the hell do you come up with this stuff so fast?

Anonymous said...

Susan - You're a wealth of one-liners. You need to make a blog post called "The Rules" and add all of your favorites. There'd probably be more wisdom in that one post than I have in all of my writing combined. :)

Julia - I actually relish your comments so please continue. Lurking is fun, but not entertaining for others.

Julie - Please add to Susan's blog about the rules.

And speaking of Christian Grey, did anyone else laugh out loud when they read E.L. James is writing a book... wait for it... on WRITING???

Fantastic person, I'm sure. But a book on writing?

On a completely unrelated note - Excuse me while I attempt to get Harvard to award me with an honorary degree in theoretical physics because of my wonderful sci-fi book so that I can write a book on actual theoretical physics and make ka-billions.

Anonymous said...



Heathen that I am, I look at those pictures of models and guys like Christian Grey and all I can think of is them crying if I messed up their manicure.

Thank all that is holy they did a great cover for Kari Lynn Dell's LONG RIDE HOME, or I would have cried. No oiled, hairless, shirtless, models with perfect abs and fingernails leaning against fence posts and giving me a come hither look.

Anonymous said...


Julie - Please add to Susan's blog about the rules.

We have rules?

Julie said...

After some consideration, I have edited previous comment for content. (Cough)

Brian - After that, she's writing a book on BDSM. Oh, wait. She already did that, didn't she? And it was cr*p, and it sold anyway. All of which tells us that... what, exactly? Go back and learn to write from Fanfic? (Crying...)

And on a similar topic, if you're REALLY dying for a laugh, Google "Gilbert Gottfried Reads 50 Shades of Grey." I laughed so hard, my Inner Goddess - um - did what she would have done in that book.

Oh, wait. Did I just write that? I must have, because someone just deposited a million bucks into my account.


50 Shades of Coral

Donnaeve said...

I'm still chuckling over Julia's "Brain Coral" sign off.

Like LynnRodz, I've skipped reading comments on the days when I've popped in early and come back later to find there's now fifty or so. It would take too long and I'm usually too tired - or hungry. Same as Lynn, I never skip Ms. Janet's comments, b/c I especially like a good rant from her. Those are my faves. Oh. And when she drops the f bomb. That just tickles me to no end. AND, I'm a 100% sucker for her wit.



Kitty said...

Carolynnwith2Ns , once you see the movie, you'll never forget "The night is sultry." The whole movie began with Billy Crystal, who's a writer and a writing teacher, trying to finish that line, and then the old lady effortlessly spits it out.

Julie said...

Hey, Brian.
I'm writing a book on how to be a literary agent. BA HA HA HA HA.... HA... ha....

As McCoy said, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."

Or, as my husband read on a related T-shirt that we prefer, "I'm not a gynecologist, but I'll take a look anyway."

Point being, just as anyone anywhere can sue anybody for anything - anyone anywhere can write a book on anything at any time. That doesn't mean it isn't cr*p. I seem to like that word today.

Perhaps that's because the 50 Shades of Cr*ppy Writing author keeps pooping up today.

Fish Food

Anonymous said...

So many good comments so far! I just have a few of my own (yes, quelle surprise, huh?)

The reason an unpublished author needs to have a completed manuscript before pitching it is because they don't have a track record of finishing publication-ready manuscripts. But I've often heard this is different for previously published authors simply because they've proven they can finish a manuscript that's appropriate for publication.

It's like the tendering process for projects. If you've never managed a project, you're not going to win a tender no matter how much you undercut the opposition. However, if you have a good background in completing projects with very good quality results, you can probably bid higher and be more likely to get the contract than someone with a less stellar background.

Colin: Self-published is a different beast. Anyone can self-publish. People can even self-publish completely unfinished books, unedited, unworthy books. When it comes to a self-published author, if they want to pitch an unfinished project, they'd better have a very good record in their self-published work.

As for pitching vs query letters - I think if an author is successful enough, they could query napkin notes. (I'm sure no one would turn down Stephen King's 'Notes on a Napkin').

Julia: If you're pitching an agent live, you pitch your one novel. Then see where the conversation takes you. The agent could ask you anything, even if you see this as a series. They might even ask if you have anything else in the pipe. Be prepared to talk about any of your projects, but begin a pitch with one book - the book that particular agent is more likely to offer you representation on.

Also Julia: I'm never going to see Colin the same way again.

Colin: 'Jumping the shark' is not a good thing. It spelled the end for Fonzie.

Dena: Great advice! Bring everything. Always be prepared.

And I love visiting New York. While I've visited in October/November a couple of times, I usually go the end of May. It seems, whenever I go in May, it gets 'unseasonably' warm (is it really 'unseasonable' if it happens more than twice in a decade?) Temperatures over 80F (about 30C?) make me melt. The small air conditioner in my friend's small apartment can only lower the temp a few degrees. But those are the times when you can visit museums or shows or shopping. If you like the sun, you can go to Coney Island. I can't imagine going to NYC when it's even hotter, though.

And you folks in the south - I know you get it much worse. And that's why I'll probably never visit the American south in the summer (or any other time it's overly hot). Before you start laughing at how wilty Canadians are, though, come up here in January and enjoy our balmy -40 temperatures. (-40 is the same Fahrenheit or Celsius. Quite chilly. But livable.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I'm writing a book on writing now. It's called, "Notes from an Unplublished Author"... although once this book is published, won't that screw the title up?

Oh dear.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Was that a Doctor Who reference? I'm so proud of you! :)

bj: I just want to say that I read your LynnRodz comment. All of it. Every last Donnaeve word. :)

Now, what was it you said...? ;)

Anonymous said...

I also want to say that I *love* Janet's rants about 'wasting an agent's time'. I mean, yes, there are ways to waste an agent's time that aren't productive for anyone, but it does bother me when someone has a pitch session booked but decides to cancel because they 'don't want to waste the agent's time'.

I mean, you've got the time booked. You've paid for the time - either as part of your conference package or separately - and it's YOUR time to waste.

The agent is going to sit there anyway, listening to someone. Even if you don't have a published novel behind you or a completed manuscript to pitch, go in and ask questions. Be pleasant, be someone they want to talk to. Like AJ did. Make a good impression.

Anonymous said...

Colin: :P

Julie said...

Colin, Colin, Colin... (shaking head).

Dude. Star Trek.

However, I will say this. My birthday was last month, and my family got me a TARDIS phone cover. I put it on my phone and immediately lost the d*mn thing. Seriously. Repeatedly. I had to put my old yellow cover back on. Now, you can say that it was my eyes, or my big sack of... stuff... but *I* maintain that the TARDIS cover actually moved my phone into another dimension. So it had to go. I NEED that phone - it's critical. I use it for late night writing (and for making snappy blog posts when I'm too blasted tired from late night writing to be effective at daytime writing).

*bjm... At the risk of poking sticks at... Well. Anyway. I have this image of this Great Altruistic White-Coated Physician saying, "Why don't you let ME be the judge of whether you're wasting my time or not?" only in the form of an Agent, while all the time nodding sagely with appropriately disguised Scotch in hand and eyes painted on his/her eyelids as he/she naps - only for me to end up saying, "Well? What do you think? Ms. Reid? Ma'am? Ma'am? Help! You! Call 911! One-and-two-and... oh, sorry, Ms. Reid, I really thought I didn't feel a pulse..."

And so maybe that qualifies me as perhaps lacking in the "Be Confident" Rule-For-Writer, but still, one can't help but wonder, when one reads, "No pressure, but DON'T SCREW UP THE QUERY/PITCH!", "Just how seriously can I really take this 'I'm not wasting his/her time' thing?"

You see what I mean.


I hope.


(Honestly, I must be posting entirely too many comments, because the Captcha has gotten bored with me. DANGER, WILL ROBINSON!)

Colin Smith said...

Julia: It was a Seventh Doctor reference. All your protesting about Star Trek aside. :)

Julie said...

[SB: It turns out I CAN'T pound out an entirely new novel in an entirely new genre in nine days. The best I can do is 30,000 unedited words, so that answers THAT question. Ah, well. So much for May 1st pseudo-deadlines. *Yawn.* Nap time. zzzz....]

Oo! Captcha must've heard me complain, because I got CAKES! And one of them was bloody awful, too - looks like it came straight from CakeWrecks.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: BTW [By The Way], since you've officially emerged out of lurkdom, isn't it about time you shared some social media locations with the rest of us? A blog, a FB page, Twitter account? Pinterest board? :)

LynnRodz said...

Julie, have I told you before how hilarious you are?

(Ahh - yeah!)

Colin, I start to skim after about 50 comments in and I'm falling asleep (like Donna). Good excuse, no? But you're right, I didn't notice the mistake in the spelling of my name.

(It's not my name anyway.) I use to sign lithographs of my art work "Lynn Rod-z" (short for Rodriguez) because my hand would cramp up from signing. And now you know the rest of the story.


Anonymous said...

Julia: Agents are people. They're not perfect, and they know you're not perfect. A mistake or two won't kill your career.

Unless you start treating agents like c**p. In which case, you've forgotten they're people. And they won't forget how you treated them.

When it comes to talking to agents (or anyone, really), just be respectful, like you would with a business colleague from out of town. When it comes to pitching or querying, be businesslike but persuasive. Have a good manuscript to sell, and sell it.

It all just comes down to being respectful and businesslike. And having a good product to sell.

(And yes, it's taken me a long time to be able to talk to an agent without getting weak in the knees. And sometimes I still get weak in the knees. But then, I get weak in the knees talking to people I don't know anyway.)

As for 'Don't screw up the query/pitch' - People have screwed up and still got agents. People have screwed up and still found spouses. Or jobs. Or fans. Or friends. It's always good to make a good first impression, but that's no different from any other job.

And I don't think any agent would blame you for trying to save her life if she doesn't wake from a nap. (Although, I would think the first thing to do in that case would be to wave their scotch under their nose to see if that brings them around.)

Just don't badmouth them in public. Don't punch them. Don't kick their kid or their dog. But then, you wouldn't do that to anyone, anyway, so you're perfectly fine.

Karen McCoy said...

ReCAPTCHA gave me hamburgers. Then sushi.

Great clip, Kitty! I'm also reminded of a quote from another famous Billy Crystal movie, when he helps deliver a baby cow:
"You know, this was not on the brochure." (0:51)

Because nothing ever is on the brochure, and as Dena so brilliantly pointed out, it's best to be prepared. You might have to help deliver a baby cow, after all.

That is all.*goes back into cave in the hopes of continuing sinus surgery recovery*

Donnaeve said...


I read (saw) that.


Colin Smith said...

Donna/Lynn: I'm going to have to start name-dropping you after about 50 comments. Or maybe 10. Or 32... you'll never know... bwaahaahaaa! :D

[I think Carkoon's getting to me! 8-O]

Christina Seine said...

Late to the party, as usual. =]

@julia, I'm going to WD Con too! We must meet up and have proper Carkoonian representation.

This is another one that surprised me. I too would have guessed to wait. But ... I have finally come to the conclusion that I am naught but a wee woodland creature whose plan must be to keep her nose to the grindstone and produce the best damn MS possible, then work with singular intensity to get said MS before the eyes of Seriously Cool Agents, following all the rules except for when it is necessary to break them in order to not miss an exceptional opportunity, because those are rare and serendipitious and cannot be wasted.

And now I get the award for longest sentence in a blog comment today, but it is a stressful day and so I am feeling particularly silly.

Julie said...

Colin - The only thing "official" about this emergence to differentiate it from previous, more transient appearances from my hidey-hole, will be the Letterhead Upon The E-Mails From The Agents I've Summoned The Courage To Query. Otherwise, it's really that I was simply so completely over the top maniacal on Monday (didn't Cyndi Lauper or somebody... Never Mind)... that I now feel the overwhelming need to Prove thant I'm Not Like That All The Time (even though I secretly am).

Such being the case, yeah. It's FB - Julia Davis Hoover (where I shamelessly and regularly promote Her Toothiness), and my Author Platform, (where The Author Has 3500+ Likes, yay me!); also Twitter @Angylaidd1, but I mostly lurk there as it takes too much energy to feed that storm. I have a blog, but it isn't worth anyone's time yet, and I'm on Goodreads and League of Vermont Writers and PubNorth and I'll just stop there. :)

You Made Me Ink

Julie said...

Oh, dear. A typo. My bad, sorry, iPhone, iTired.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: Prepare to be visited:

Christina Seine said...

Also, another question for QOTKU: any other traveler tips for someone who's never been to NYC before?

Besides, don't get mugged?

Julie said...

Colin - prepare for a much more wholesome show indicative of my deeper self and underlying passions.

Colin Smith said...

Julia: What, more chocolate and unicorns? :)

Julie said...

HA! I left a morsel for y'all there...

Still trying to offload a leprechaun.

Dena Pawling said...

I can't tell you the number of times I've been in court AT TRIAL on a nonpayment case and my witness didn't bring the LEDGER or the receipt book or other documents that are, you know, kind of REQUIRED to win the case. Or last Monday when my client didn't bring the TWO INCHES of maintenance records (because it was "too thick to schlep all the way to court") and the defendant proceeded to lie that "management never fixes anything". I swear sometimes my clients expect me to wave a magic wand to produce a judgment for eviction when they brought NOTHING with them to prove anything except how they need a career change.

On a semi-related note, in case anyone is curious, after giving the tenants an additional two weeks to de-hoard their unit and the tenants not doing so, the judge from my comment a few weeks ago finally ordered judgment against the tenants-who-hoard-and-caused-a-fire. They have until May 31 to move out before they're evicted, so the tenants in the other units have until
June 1 before they can feel safe again.

BRING EVERYTHING. Remember Murphys law. If you don't bring the umbrella, it WILL rain.

AJ Blythe said...

Colin/Christina... finally got a chance to check out the Carkoon Pinterest and realised my blog image is the A-Z Challenge Theme reveal logo. Any chance I can get that changed? You can find an image to use here. Thanks!

Julie said...

Dena - Or, as I call Murphy's Law, Julie's Rule Number One, which states: given an even chance at two randomly decided options, one of which (let's call that one 'Janet') is unequivocally right, and the other unequivocally wrong, (let's call that one "Do you wanna buy a contract"), if forced to choose, I will always, unfailingly, choose WRONG.

This has led to some interesting and, I'm certain, useful-in-the-writing-of-future-memoir, situations like:
- Driving in terror down an unlabeled logging road in northern Maine at night with a semi (logging truck) behind me;
- Driving in terror through downtown urban New Jersey begging my husband for phone Dirctions To Somewhere Else;
- Driving in terror of killing my kids who were relentlessly asking me Where We Were as we passed That Same White Farmhouse for the fifth time; and
- Driving in terror through the pouring rain on an incredibly tortuous road in the Ozarks.

Now, usually, it (Julie's Rule Number One) isn't quite so much fun, and it just has me put my clothes on inside out and backwards in the dark (though I'm getting wise).

But often, it ends up with me driving in terror in the dark.

Cosequently, I have become VERY (pathologically) good at finding good sources of advice and teaching (et la) and then heeding their advice (I like to think my lifespan has adjusted accordingly). So if you tell me to bring EVERYTHING, I'm going on e-bay to buy an okd steamer tank to lug up to the Shark's desk.

And in case anyone was wondering (oh, that should've said "old" - bad iPhone), Julie's microbiology Rule Number One is: Don't Eat Poop.

Julie said...

I did sleep, BTW (By the Way), and awoke after this alarming nightmare (I know, I know, but you're going to WANT to read this one) in which I passed out in a nursing home only to awaken to St. Matthew's Passion (which I've been writing to) being sung behind a panel of literary Agents who would neither hear my pitch nor discharge me from the home so I was healthy enough to stand and deliver my pitch. And the choir sang on. It was terrifying.


Clearly, I'm either sleeping too much and writing too little or writing too much and sleeping too little, but I'm not sure which.

50 Leagues Under Anesthesia

Craig F said...

Sounds like this OP has a course well plotted. This looks, to me, like the way the writing business is supposed to work. Work a contract with a small publisher and then announce that you are ready for the big leagues.

Congratulations and best of luck to you. My hat is off to you.

I like the idea of pitching a concept for a book or series better than trying to cram a book into thirty five words. It just might be something a publisher can sink their teeth into.

It was a sultry night in the Big Apple. Maybe the only sultry night of the year. July is that wonderful time between spring and fall there. Hum the old Martha and the Vandellas "Heatwave" song as you stroll with your parasol.

The Romance writers picked this date carefully. They wanted sultry all the way and were happy as could be that it happened. Have fun at the RWA all of you Romantic types.

Anonymous said...

I don't write romance, but reading about the Ellora's Cave cons makes me kind of want to go to one just for the sex positions workshop.

While making made passionate love on a horse sounds romantic in theory, I just envision disaster. In my mind, seriously comedic disaster.

"Oh, John, take me, take me now."

Furious discarding of clothes tossed along the trail as Blue plods along calmly.

"Wait, let me turn around. Ok, Oh, yeah."

"John, darling."

"Heather, I love you...umm careful, keep your heels out of his flanks."

"Faster, John."


"Whoa? Don't you love me?"

"Whoa, dammit, whoa. Oh crap the cac...."

"You mean co--"


"Come back, Blue!"

And that right there is why I'm not allowed to write romance. But have fun storming the RWA.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Can I play?
I just got home from work, well not just, maybe an hour ago and I started reading comments. Then I started skimming, then I started laughing - what kind of jingle-juice have you guys been drinking?
On “Planet Janet” today I saw a woman buy fifty, yes fifty, beach towels. Who buys fifty beach towels, the old hag in the shoe? And speaking of hags, is Fifty-Shades (really?) writing a book on writing? Jeez, write a book about smacking a dangling participle and you become rich, famous and get to write a book about dangling participles.
What was the OP’s post?
Don’t remember.
My advice.
Do what Janet says.
I wonder how many beach towels Fifty-Shades of Wet Skin has.

Giddy-up big blue.

Kregger said...

Fifty leagues under anesthesia!
*wipes bourbon streaming from nose*

Julie said...

OMG, someone PLEASE tell me we can turn this into a contest.


Okay. Ten words.

Horse. Dangling. Cactus. Wet. Sultry. Parasol. Reach. Angel ('cause it's me). Wary. Confine.



(If you're not sure if it's soup or pie, that's A Very Bad Thing).

LynnRodz said...

*used* (Yeah, I had to self edit.)

Btw (by the way) Janet, I love the cake photo. That would make a great flash fiction contest, how the kid ended up with her face in the cake.

Julie said...

My husband just blinded me with pizza.
See why I don't belong at the bloody BEA?

Can't Sea Urchins

LynnRodz said...

Julia, we're thinking along the same lines. Now I'm off to bed.

DLM said...


TO JANET HE SAYS *PRRRRRRRRRR* I LUV YOU (and he gets away with spelling it luv). He adds a head-bonk for good measure, and will TRY to refrain from drooling if you let him knead on your knee just for a minute.

@Donna, around here the forecasters have an equally unfortunate habit with "moist." Ew.

@Julia, it took me a second with the Great White reference. I am a child of the 70s/80s, and that brought on the most unfortunate hair metal band association ... :) However, "Koi Kent" - hee!

@Susan B. - now I have "Interplanet Janet" running through my head again. Not the first time, with this blog. It ain't a broom, but ...

Gossie is sniffing at the laptop as the song is playing. I think he hopes Inerplanet Janet is our Janet, and she'll swing by the midatlantic between planets.

Random thought: I am annoyed that I have become aware who Christian Grey is. Pleh.

@2Ns: my jingle juice is actually a smoothie of pear, banana, some OJ concentrate, and a bit of cranberry-lime sparkling water. It might be good with vodka (or even gin) in it, but I have not gotten that far, having come home at six and two hours later just getting to finishing up the comments ...

@Julia again and @Lynn - I MIGHT even almost be tempted to brave that contest ...

This vomment brought to you by Gossamer the Sleeping, Nestling, Unbelievably Soft, Heart-clutchingly Endearing Editor Cat. #Aww

Julie said...

"What the HELL did ya do that fer, Jim? That were ma best nag!"
"Yer wuz beatin' that damn beast ta death. I was savin' her the agony."


[Note: No matter how many times you click the sample image, the blue check will NOT appear.]

Julie said...

And I want you all to know that I lurked on this page for a bloody year and a half before I had the nerve to have a nervous breakdown here and come out of hiding.


(Raises mug of Gatorade).

Greater Swiss Mountain Dogfish

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

DLM, add a little kale and Lima bean juice to your juice and I'll bet you'll lose 8lbs by morning.

reCAPTCHA sandwiches. One looked like an autopsy.

Julie said...

What a weird week.

I liked this a lot more before they sang to my utter rejection. Really.

@Carolynn - Soup. With cheesecake floating in it. And noodles. Weird, I tell you what.

Anonymous said...

Happy birthday, Gossamer! Three's a big year. I know you're going to do something grand!

I'm glad you felt safe to come out of hiding, Julia. Welcome to the community (says another new member).

Am sad my site has not yet made it to the Pinterest board. I think Koko would look very nice alongside all the cats and sharks...

Colin Smith said...

Happy Birthday Gossamer!!! Sam sends his very best. Best what? I can only guess. Cats!

Julie said...

All right. I went to the Carkoon site. And I discovered that, lo and behold, much to my astonishment, at some point in the past, I established a Pinterest account.

And apparently I have followers.

With a total of one Pin - ever - I have followers.

SO... I put two Pins-up (no Beefcake), and now it's there. Angylaidd. That's me. Julia Hoover. That's also me.

Oh, good grief - (Tossing catnip and laser pointers at Gossamer and hoping not to bonk him in the nose).



(And now I KNOW some of these wrecks are from Cakewrecks, because I KNOW that site almost as well as I know this one.)

Anonymous said...

Christina: Some New York travel tips from someone who's not from there but goes sometimes...

1) When you get there, if you're taking a cab to the hotel (or wherever you're staying) get in line for the Yellow Cabs. DO NOT, under any circumstances, take a ride with the guys going up and down the line saying they'll take you there cheaper. They won't. They're illegal and unregulated and can stiff you something big time. Or worse. (I had this drummed into me EVERY time I go. EVERY time. So I guess it's important.)

2) If you're going to see the sights, see if you can get to the Cloisters. The Cloisters is a special part of the Metropolitan Museum, but it's wayyyy far from downtown. It's like it's own little castle on the edge of the island. And it is FILLED with the loveliest museum art outside of Europe. Even in Europe. Much of the art (and the building itself) was taken from destroyed or soon-to-be destroyed churches and abbeys in Europe. If you like medieval art, go there.

3) If you're walking down rickety steps in an old apartment building, be very careful. A fall can hinder your travel plans. (Says the person who sprained an ankle on the way down the steps to go to the Greenwich Village Hallowe'en Parade to see Whoopi Goldberg).

4) New York is the oldest place I've ever been. It's been there for 500 years. Check out the history. (And if you're walking in Greenwich Village, watch the cobblestones. Says the person who sprained an ankle there another year.)

5) There's an art to catching a taxi. I still haven't quite figured out what it is. Usually a taxi will take pity and stop for me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Typo. 400 years. That's still pretty darn old.

Megan V said...

Aw man, I missed Dr. Who references! Wish I had a TARDIS. Maybe I can catch a lift if the Doctor pitches up from Carkoon?

In any case, I was surprised at the Shark's advice and I wonder what approach a writer with no publication history should take in this scenario. A previous finished manuscript does not a previous publication make and there's no way for agent to guarantee that writer is in it for the long haul when all they've got is a new idea and a couple of pages.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

@ Dena, The first time I pitched an agent I was prepared, had illustrations, story, query, the works. But instead of showing the illustrations and all the works I just babbled. If I'd have had a parasol like Mary Poppins I would have flown out of the room.

@Julie, you terrors reminded me of the time my ex-husband was cleaning his shotgun and it went off. It was jammed. Luckily he didn't blow his head off but did blow a hole in the ceiling. He made me go ask the upstairs neighbors if they were OK. When the upstairs neighbor opened the door he had his t-shirt on inside out and backwards. Obviously just woke up.

I asked, "Did you hear the gunshot?"

"What gunshot?"

"uh, nevermind."

They didn't have a hole in the floor or their heads.

Mary Feliz said...

I'm so torn. While I aim to be bold, brave, and brilliant in my writing career, that woodland creature cake "hand" delivered by a shark on a broomstick seems really too tempting to pass up!