Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Author/agent question: Time

I recently had an agent email me, "Love your writing, want to talk. What's a good time?" I emailed back some suggestions. Haven't heard back yet (several days later). What should I do, if anything? Needless to say, this is causing some suffering.

Was it me?

This kind of thing happens to me more than either of us wish.

It's not that I don't care, or I'm not interested. It's that things just pile up, and good intentions, much like my flask, get buried under incoming stuff.

Today for example, I had a list of 16 things to do. I got through eight of them because six NEW things popped up that were both urgent and important.***

So, yes, I didn't get to an email to schedule a phone call with a potential client (important but not urgent.)

I wish I had, but I didn't.

Here's what that means for you: Keep querying! Don't assume This Is It. And ping Miss TardyPants once a week (not Monday) to express your continued interest in talking to her. Unless it's Barbara Poelle. If it is La Slitherina, email me and we'll conference her in on a call and do an a cappella version of this to motivate her:

Also, make sure you check your spam filter. I'm not sure why but my spam filter is unusually voracious this week. (Probably cause she's unhappy to be back from vacation.)

The four categories, drawn from The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People (one of the best book titles EVER) are:
1. Important and Urgent
2. Not important but Urgent
3. Important but not urgent
4. Not important and not urgent (renewing your passport that doesn't expire for a year for example) 


AJ Blythe said...

Am loving that typewriter! And had to giggle at your labels for the post.

I can only imagine the anxiety you are under at the moment, OP. Never having been in the position myself I can only say what Ms Shark has recommended makes sense.

If the agent likes your work enough to want to chat that won't change. They'll still want to speak with you. Only their timing might not match yours.

Good luck!

LynnRodz said...

Congrats, OP, especially if that agent who's interested is either Janet or, her dearest competitor, BP.

Boy, did The Typewriter bring back memories. I used to play that every year when I was in my high school band.

Sorry, Janet, I have to disagree on #4. Sometimes you get up and go and you're gone for more than a year. Yes, there's always an embassy, but it's easier to have it already renewed.

Colin Smith said...

Yay! Congratulations, Opie, on arousing the interest of an agent! I hope this works out for you. :) Right now, it seems this kind of thing would only happen in my dreams, and the kind of dreams where the agent emails you back with a time to call, and you call them (yeah, I know, they usually call you, but this is my dream) and the assistant answers and she doesn't know you, and puts you on hold for half an hour only to come back and say--without apology--that she had to talk to someone way more important than you, and the agent is out of the office on maternity leave and left forty minutes ago, and if you call again you'll be black-listed with the entire publishing industry...

Woodland creature dreams. A whole other level of Stephen King.

Anyway--keep at it, my friend!! :)

Unknown said...

"Don't assume this is it. Keep querying."

Oh, the pain. Oh, the heartbreak and torture and the clinging to the edge of the quicksand before being sucked back into the 'they didn't really like me' or the 'they found someone they liked better' vortex. From pinnacles to pittance. Such is a writer's life.

I love it. So much better than humdrum.

Congrats, OP.

Donnaeve said...

I don't even know where to start! Oh, hang on, Congratulations OP! I know hearing "I love your writing," is always sublime.

Now, to the rest which is really where I don't know where to start. (and I have to pause here b/c maybe it's just me, but while I was sitting here thinking I happened to let my eyes wander to the left and I see this category "Author Asshats" which always makes me laugh!)

Anywhoo - the typewriter song is CRAZY FUN, but after about a minute of listening to it, I thought, geez, I wish I could bottle some of that energy and drink it. It just sounds so, busy busy busy!

Well, we all could be more efficient without a doubt, until SH*T happens and the best of intentions can get sucked right into oblivion.

Days? How about WEEKS? Or MONTHS? I know a writer who emailed their agent weeks ago with a contract question and has yet to hear back. I know another writer who is waiting on their agent to place a Publisher's Marketplace announcement regarding the sale of a book and has been for MONTHS.

One thing writing/acquiring an agent/publishing will teach you. Patience. And, if you thought you had it before? Just wait. (pun intended)

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Congrats OP, I'm a query virgin so don't know the horrible stress you're living. I hope you can keep sane. Before reading The Queen's advice, I thought, "keep querying."

I forgot to say welcome back to Janet. I imagined you were with Amy in Paradise but who knows.

As far as the list of urgent -vs- important. Urgent but not important is visiting the loo.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

OP- congrats. Colin, I have the same nightmare only it's worse since Janet's blog that mentioned kale and Carkoon. I have five requested partials out right now (one of them is with Penny at Janet's agency) and I am on pins and needles. I have visions of Janet in shark form gobbling me up for annoying one of her agents. And of course I am just sure that agent super secret black list exists. Well, OP good luck. Just enjoy that email. An agent loved your writing, and even if this one passes, another one will. You are that one step closer. Keep writing - I am super excited for you.

Unknown said...

As usual, Donna is very very correct! When you look at that handful of patience sand slipping through your fingers, hold on tight and wait for the sand trucks to arrive.

I've been very (VERY) fortunate to snag an internship in the wide world of publishing and I am ASTOUNDED at the level and quantity of communications.

It reminds me of playing catch with my dad, only instead of one dad it's one hundred and instead of throwing baseballs its oversized blowup volley balls filled with rocks and air while all of them scream "OVER HERE! WATCH OUT! THAT LOOKS LIKE IT HURT! ARE YOU BLEEDING?!?"

Might as well start juggling airplanes or crush coal into diamonds with your bare hands.

So Opie, don't fear. Follow up politely and stay in the trenches until someone drags you out!

Dena Pawling said...

"Love your writing, want to talk. What's a good time?"

This reminds me of a funny I saw once, which might possibly be my writer's nightmare

Another of my nightmares is receiving an email like that and having to respond “I'm in trial for the next two weeks. Can we talk outside of business hours?”

“I'm not sure why but my spam filter is unusually voracious this week. (Probably cause she's unhappy to be back from vacation.)”

I think your spam filter may be misguided, but she's possibly just trying to make your job-after-vacation easier by mistakenly believing that if you don't see the proliferation of emails, you'll have a nicer transition back to work.

Congrats to OP on the agent interest!

Colin Smith said...

Dena's link:

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

If that a cappella version ever comes to pass, you MUST record it and post it forthwith. Please.

(I was going to write the phrase "Please and thank you", but thankfully caught myself as it's a lazy attempt at being polite, isn't it? Use the please where it belongs and then the thank you when appropriate.)

Elissa M said...

My sister is a middle school teacher and librarian. She likes to bring a typewriter to school once a year because the kids have never seen or heard one.

LynnRodz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Smith said...

OK, here's my take on the Woodland Creature's Four Categories:

1. Important and Urgent: Every email I send to every agent.
2. Not important but Urgent: Going to the bathroom.
3. Important but not urgent: Dietary needs. Unless it's coffee or chocolate.
4. Not important and not urgent (renewing your passport that doesn't expire for a year for example): Bills. Taxes. Birthdays. Work. Anything that isn't my WiP.

Okay my witty friends. I'm sure you can do better... :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to the person with this lovely problem! I remember back in another life when I used to have agents calling to ask me to send the suspense to them. That seems like a dream, but back then it was all snail mail and if agents were really interested they'd often pick up the phone and call instead of sending back a mailed request.

Now an email for a few sample chapters sets my heart atwitter. I have no idea what I'd do if an agent were actually interested in me today. Faint most likely.

Follow Janet's advice, of course. I contacted one agent reluctantly after six months who posted she had responded to all queries, no it wasn't Janet. She sent back an immediate response that she had declined and apologized because they'd been having internet problems. It was not in my spam filter and would not have gone there since she was a known contact. No idea where it went.

Is it wrong that I have this desire to go Jim Fowler and observe the slithery Barbara Poelle and Miss Janet in the wild?

And that reminds me I need to get my passport if I'm going to Surrey.

Anonymous said...

I know exactly how the OP feels. The thoughts that run through your head: Did I say something wrong in my response? What did I say? Could she have taken it the wrong way? Did I blow it? Does she hate me now?

I get those thoughts all the time, about all sorts of things - not all of them writing-related.

My brain tells me that the person is busy. Or is looking for an answer to my question. Or fell down an elevator shaft. (And yes, sometimes my mind goes to "Oh no. She's dead. I'm sure she is. And I won't know about it because it won't make the news here, and I'll be sitting waiting for her call forever, and when is her funeral so I can send flowers?")

Eek! Recaptcha gave me cabbage! I've been so traumatized by others' experiences with this - and now it happened to me! I have to go lie down now.

Anxiety is ruled by the mind. The brain knows better. The mind - which is very creative in a writer - can run with anything the brain throws at it and turn it into an imagined catastrophe.

To the OP: The agent is still alive. The agent still likes you. The agent is a very nice person who understands writers and wouldn't have asked to talk to you if they weren't very interested. (((hugs))) It's time to splurge on something chocolate/boozy/relaxing to help keep your wits about you.

Loved the cartoon, Dena!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Okay Colin, I took the bait.

1. Important and Urgent, column deadline AND hopping on here half a dozen times a day
2. Not important but Urgent, ice cream AND commenting here at least half a dozen times a day.
3. Important but not urgent, oil change AND checking blogs of commenters who come here every day.
4. Not important and not urgent (renewing your passport that doesn't expire for a year for example), changing the sheets AND showing up here every day but I do anyway.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

If anyone is going to hang a carrot just out of reach, I would at least hope I am able to partake before it becomes rotten.

At what point does expecting someone to be patient become rude?

Anonymous said...


"At what point does expecting someone to be patient become rude?"

I have no idea. I check my spreadsheet so seldom it has spiderwebs on it. I focus on the new WIP and don't think about it.

This is why it drives me insane when someone who has just typed "The End" ponders a quick read through before quitting their job to pursue publication.

"Oh, my Gosh! I don't know if I can take this! I spent six months writing this and this agent hasn't responded. I sent this to them two weeks ago and I haven't heard anything! I'm going to self publish!!!!!"

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Thank you for the laugh before the busyness of the day began before I could even finish reading--"ping Miss Tardypants once a week (not Monday)."

Soso easy to get caught up into our writerly head that it's all about us or about our book. It's difficult to keep that perspective.

Another fun version of Typewriter Song: So sorry for my lack of link. Are you still here Colin?

Colin Smith said...

Right here, Lisa!

Unknown said...

Nice to see someone else uses that category chart :)

Donnaeve said...

Captain BS, I'm printing out and framing your first sentence so my husband can see it. IN VERY LARGE FONT.


CynthiaMc said...

What a great problem to have, OP!

I'm reading 7 Habits right now (it's one of my morning read/study books).

Welcome back, Janet. Hope vacation was a blast!

The good news is instead of doing 3 shows this season I'll be doing 4. The bad news is I'm trying to get a screenplay done and submitted by October 1.

I sold a magazine article once. The editor called to let me know. I was cooking dinner amid after school chaos. It was a joyful moment. I'm surprised I didn't burn the house down. Hope you get a call soon!

Unknown said...

Haha! Well please take photos and post them as a comment in the blog :) I want to see this.

Janet, is there anything that does get your attention in situations like this? (Aside from boatloads of money, competing offers, or the WRONG kind of attention?)

Pam Powell said...

So here's the question I have:

Is the typewriter player considered a percussionist?

Which reminds me of the time a friend of mine indicated to some European musicians that he, too, was a musician.

"What do you play?" he was asked.

"Drums!" he responded.

"You're not a musician," they declared. "You're a percussionist!"

Anonymous said...


The typewriter player would be considered a percussionist. However, saying that a percussionist is not a musician is very short-sited. While most normal drums don't play to musical notes, kettle drums do. Tympani do. And other 'percussion' instruments include the xylophone and the vibraphone.

Here's a friend of mine playing the vibraphone:

Nick Apivor playing the vibraphone - Youtube

Tell me that's not music.

Anonymous said...

(Yes, I see now that I should have said "short-sighted", but I shall leave that spelling mistake, because it could also mean that whoever said percussion isn't music must be short on web sites to check this on.)

Anonymous said...

Captain BS,

I already congratulated you, but congratulations formally. I am so happy for you. I imagine these are exciting times.

Donnaeve said...

Julie said congrats to Brian and I was like huh? What did I miss??? So, I had to backup and re-read Brian's comment earlier b/c I don't think I ever got past "Donna is very very correct!"

Anyway yes! Congratulations, Brian.

AJ Blythe said...

Congrats, Brian. What an exciting position to be in!

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Congrats Capt. BS. Life is good down in the mines and on the top of the mountain.