Monday, October 19, 2015

Conference meetings with an agent who has a ms on submission

 I write children's stories, but I follow you anyway because your advice usually spans the genres. An agent recently requested a manuscript based on my query. It has been about 6 weeks now and I haven't heard back from the agent. No problem, I'll take that as a no, but I am attending a conference in a month where the agent will be present. In fact, I have a 10-minute query critique session with that agent. I have no intention of bringing up the manuscript I already sent, but in the slight chance that the agent recognizes my name and asks why, what the heck do I say? How do I even approach this without making it an awkward moment for the agent?

If you read this blog you've missed the part about how long it takes agents to respond to full manuscripts. Hint: it's a whole helluva lot longer than six weeks.

Right now (October) I'm reading and replying to fulls sent to me in April. That's not six weeks. That's six MONTHS. And I'm nowhere near as behind as some of my colleagues.

So, first thing: remember your manuscript has NOT been rejected.

Second: if the agent asks about it, you say "I sent a requested full on DATE." And that's ALL you say. Don't fall in to the trap of "I know you're busy" etc.  We're ALL busy. 

And why you're not going to ask for info about this requested manuscript puzzles me. You've had a request for a full. You have a chance to find out, in person, what the agent thinks. And you're not going to take it? Are you SURE you read this blog?

If you elect to talk about the second manuscript, and the agent says something akin to "hey your name sounds familiar" you simply say "I sent you a manuscript in September called Cool Your Jets. This is a different book."



Carolynnwith2Ns said...

COOL YOUR JETS, great novel, life changing actually. Makes getting through the life-pitfalls of writing-pitfalls a little easier.
Read it and live it.

Anonymous said...

At least I'm not the only one! I write fantasy and scifi, and am Indie Publishing, but I still read this blog because

a.) The advice sometimes (often!) applies to more than agent/author interactions
b.) I love reading the comments
c.) I love Janet's writing style

This is a great blog.

Also I second what QOTKU says (not that my opinion matters, but well, my 2c). Why wouldn't you ask???!

Be brave. Be furry. Be the woodland creature you know you can be!

Anonymous said...


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

W.R...Mew..hahahaha, rubs hands together.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am never first. And to this, OP, you definitely say something to the agent that requested your full. Six weeks is nothing in agent time although it feels an eternity in writer time.

Take advantage of your face to face time. I actually turned a no on a query to a partial request at a conference. It was a cone of silence rejection so it's possible the agent never saw the query. I pray he didn't. (it was truly vile- pre-Janet days don't you know). Instead I asked him if he would allow me to practice my pitch as I was very nervous. It took a shot of the good stuff and a big pep talk from my daughter to gather the courage to approach him. But he was right there, and I wanted to see what he really thought of my story idea. He requested a partial on the spot. I was absolutely stunned and excited. Of course he may in the end reject me, but the point is don't waste that face to face time. It's good stuff. Have fun at your conference. Agents aren't nearly as scary as you might think.

DLM said...

Yeah, this is not awkward, this is NICE. She's requested the full, this agent. She likes your groove. Smile and tell her you're excited to meet her, knowing she has your full, and it gives you an opportunity to put a face to her if things progress.

My own agent meeting Saturday ...

The James River Writers conference this "weekend" (I am getting no weekend really, getting up at seven a.m. Saturday and Sunday, commuting, and being "on" all day both days is not a weekend!) was good, and I met with an agent. Unfortunately, I think she thought I was not sincere when I said I wasn't pitching at her but wanted thoughts on the market in terms of my letting it lie, and she kept asking me for the hook and so on. Absolutely a lovely person (with splendid earrings), but I missed out on her breadth of knowledge, and felt like I should have just let someone hopeful have my seven minutes. Ah well.

E.M, it sounds like this is still in flight (I typed fight there at first; and that works too)? GOOD LUCK! :)

One problem with a really good writers conference? They give you IDEAS. They're so inspiring you start thinking "What if I did *this* with the old ms?"

But no, because they also get you revved up on the real project at hand. I shall not be distractulated. I shall soldier on (with the sellable novel).

Cindy C said...

A question here-- would it be appropriate to send a nice short email to the agent before the conference just to say, "I'm so excited to meet you and wanted to let you know that for this conference I'm pitching a different book than the full you requested on August 20?"

That way if the agent hasn't read it she'll at least have the chance to bump it up to the top of the list. And if she has read and rejected it, she'll know you aren't planning to resubmit the same thing.

I realize that if it is okay to send such an email the key is keep the email short and professional.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

LOL, thanks for the laughs 2Ns and WR. I haven't heard the word "meanie" in ages. Takes me back a few years.

Opie, what Diane says. This agent likes your groove. Smile. Be excited. And I'd do as the QOTKU suggests, I would ask.

And I guess it never sunk in before, Since I'm not quite yet to the querying phase that's all I've aimed my overfilled mind to absorb. But now I'm hearing it... 6 months before reading a requested full ms? Ok. Got it. Glacial pace indeed.

Colin Smith said...

I think 2Ns is trying to establish herself as the official First Commenter: when 2Ns comments, the comments are officially open. We'll see how long that lasts. Our Australian friends have the advantage, I think... ;)

Yes, Opie, ask! I can't imagine a half-decent agent would be offended that you take your writing career seriously, and are concerned about the status of a manuscript submission. What's the worst they can say? "Oh yes, I remember that one. I'm sorry, I had to pass on it, and as I recall, here's why..." However, correct me if I'm wrong Mighty and Most Wondrous QOTKU, She Whose Teeth We Are Not Worthy to Be Chomped By, but don't most agents respond to partial or full requests, even NORMAN (NO Response MeAns No) agents? So if you haven't heard from that agent on a ms request, s/he probably hasn't got to it yet. Hearing you talk about it at the conference may encourage the agent to move your ms up the reading pile.

Diane: I hate to say this, especially since it's after the fact, but I think you should have pitched your novel anyway, even if you're considering shelving it. Give the agent a chance to love it, and if they don't, then ask about the market, and whether they would advise moving on to another project given the response you've had so far. I mean, heck (And I mean heck!), Jessica Faust asked me about my novel and I'm still WRITING the blessed thing! I didn't even have a novel to pitch to her. I was waiting for her to say, "Oh, that's been overdone, consider something else," or something like that. But no. She gave me some tips, and told me I could query her when I was done.

I met three agents at Bouchercon, and you know what? They were real people, smiling, excited to be there, pleased to meet a potential future client (me). I'm sure Terri will agree, you haven't seen anything until you've seen our Beloved Sharkey One fangirling. And she fangirled. ;) When I manage to make it to an actual writing conference, with agents who are there to work, I hope I remember the agents I met at B'con, and remember how excited they are to be around writers and books. It really helps to take away some of the fear.

OK, someone else's turn now. :)

Donnaeve said...

First. Dog pictures. THIS is why I love dogs. I mean seriously folks, that expression says it all! Human like. Ah. Doggies.

OP, take advantage of the face time for sure. An agent having a full is only GOOD news! I doubt the agent will think it's awkward - and don't think AWKWARD anyway! That just plants it in your head. Then you WILL think of it, and it WILL be AWKWARD. Stop. Train your brain. Reconnect it to thinking this one to one is going to go well, better than well, splendidly.

(after spelling and saying awkward in my own head three times in a short paragraph, it sounds and looks AWKWARD!)

Colin Smith said...

I just re-read my comment, and I should point out (lest I be misconstrued) that She of the Dorsal Fin was not fangirling me. No, I'm talking about published writers whose books she loves to whom she was talking with animated exuberance. I can only imagine what she's like pitching a client's book to an editor. :)

Hopefully you didn't read it that way. But in case you did...

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

I am always a fan of dog pictures; some dogs (like that husky and like my Elka) are very expressive indeed.

E.M., sounds like a great experience!

I haven't been to a conference yet, but I follow many agents on Twitter, and respect their personhood. There are people I follow who I'd never query (like Janet) but who are just so nice, knowledgeable, and helpful!

Dena Pawling said...

I think this OP has decided not to talk about the requested full because previously on this blog, you have advised NOT to bring up if the agent has rejected a query or manuscript, because that makes things awkward for the agent. And OP believed “no response means no” after six weeks on a requested full.

So now that you've clarified that no response after only six weeks does NOT mean no, and with your previous blog post that most agents will actually give a response if they've requested the full manuscript, this means that OP's manuscript is still “live” with that agent.

What does OP do if s/he [instead of they, a la yesterday's comment] actually DOES receive a “no” on the full manuscript before attending the conference? In that case, does OP still ask about it? Or only focus on the new manuscript?

And - Good news Janet! April to October means you are only FIVE months behind.

Julie said...

1. What Donna (who still rocks, BTW) said. About the dog. Where do you GET these? I love them. Do you HAVE a dog? Seriously, Janet. Do you?
2. I though you were a cat person.
3. But now I wonder.
4. Onto the blog. The invaluable blog. Would you, as an agent, remember my MS if I asked you about it? Agents are, as you say, busy and behind. So I say, I sent my MS, "Busypants," to you about six weeks ago. What do you think so far? Do you give me that same look as the one on the dog? And if so, does it mean, "What, are you kidding me, I don't remember you!" or, "What, are you kidding me, I haven't even started reading it yet!" or, "What, are you kidding me, I don't remember a single word!"
5. Therefore, I understand the OP's hesitancy in bringing it up - not because I'd think the Agent in question might've rejected me, but rather because I'd think they were so busy that there would be a very high likelihood of them not remembering me from the color of the car behind them that morning. Which might lead to Awkwardness. Which I hate.
6. So, I bring up "Busypants." What do I expect at that point? And how do I gracefully deal with some form of "I haven't the faintest idea?"


Colin Smith said...

Dena/Julia: In my Bouchercon Debrief (Day Three, if I recall), I mentioned that I had lunch with a writer whose unpublished novel concerned a teacher sent to Poland. The writer was hoping to pitch the novel to some agents. When I mentioned this to Janet, she nodded and said, "I remember that novel doing the rounds." When I mentioned the author's name, again it seemed familiar to her. So, do agents remember requested mss? I don't doubt it differs from agent to agent, but I imagine if the novel's premise is striking enough for the agent to request, there's a strong likelihood they'll remember the novel, even if they pass on it. Janet certainly remembered.

Dena Pawling said...

Never mind my math. I hate math. I forgot to count August. Yes, you are SIX months behind.

April ==> May June July AUGUST September October

My #3 son was born in August and we are ALWAYS teasing him that "this year there's no August on the calendar. You have NO birthday this year." Then he gives us the LOOK.

And despite our best efforts at eliminating his birthday, he's 18 now.

Diversion over. We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

Janet Reid said...

Comments only count as "first" if they are substantive. Therefore "Hey, I'm first", "Am I first?" count as zero.

The first two comments today would be considered substantive.

I am a fan of Colin. I did manage to not be too exuberant about it. I am a RABID fan of Alafair Burke. I did not contain that at all. I believe I waved my arms in the air and there might have been singing.

And now, off to torment writers before breakfast.
I love my job.

DLM said...

Colin, your support means so much - thank you! But as much as I love James River Writers, it is not a conference where I am usually likely to find anyone who reps the kind of histfic I write. This agent (and the others present) ABSOLUTELY does not; however, her breadth of experience, having worked in several different areas of publishing, was very interesting to me, so I very much chose her for the conversation I had in mind; she would never have been a match, even on the "I am open to different genres" angle. None of the agents present this year would have been anyone I'd query.

AX isn't something I'm considering putting away, it is something I *have* put away, and as gratifying as it is to have supportive writer friends, I think (even without this person's insight) it's my only business option right now. I'm not giving up. I'm just aware of the fact that the story of the ultimate white dude on a throne is not what publishing needs right now. Indeed, I am entirely behind the reasons for that (another of our guests? Ellen Oh, who helped to bring us #WeNeedDiverseBooks). It hurt six months ago when I made the decision, or began to. But now, to talk about AX as if it were a going concern is frankly difficult, because I have switched off its viability in my mind.

I adore Janet, and Jessica, and Barbara, and a lot of agents I've met and found welcoming and wonderful (will never forget sitting with Victoria Skurnick and discussing cello music). None of these women, unfortunately, is probably the right agent for my work.

Puppy pic number 2 today reminds me of Penny-dopey. Aww!!

This weekend, I got to spend time with one of our lurker/commenters, whom I ADORE and whom my semi-defunct writing group (now energized on the JRW Kool Ade) are hoping to bring into our fold. She was excited to realize she knows Gossamer's mum.

Gossamer, by the way, contributed to the Conference weekend by waking me up all curled up against my chest on Sunday morning and then nestling on me Sunday afternoon when I left early. The Editor Cat knows how important napping is to the process of writing, publishing, and pet-having. He is OSUM, and says hi!

Colin Smith said...

The Alafair Burke ARC she signed for me at B'con will be my first novel of hers that I've ever read. I wanted to read it because Janet has championed her books here (and Janet has impeccable taste--she's Gary Corby's agent for crying out loud!), and from the way she talked with such passion about Alafair's characters to Ms. Burke. If she loves her writing *that* much, it must be good.

I read the first chapter that night, and I had to force myself to put it aside (I'm a serial reader--I can't have more than one novel on the go at once). It's next on my list to read, however.

If my dream comes true*, and I end up with an agent, I hope s/he fangirls/fanboys my work like that to every editor on the planet. :) Which means I need to write something worth fangirling/fanboying. Eek!

*Right now, I pass my nights on Carkoon dreaming of Janet Reid, Barbara Poelle, and Jessica Faust at Jimmy V's battling martinis to see who gets to represent my novel... ;)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

I am a fan of Colin and Donna myself and would be giddy if I ever encountered them face to face, hoping my tattoos wouldn't scare them off. I think I would keep my cool... Maybe.

I met Patrick Rothfuss at a conference a couple of years ago in Oklahoma. I did not manage to keep my cool. Nope. Not even a little. It would be fun to see our own Janet being a fan girl. Think I might have to do Boucheron next year.

S.D.King said...

DLM - I think you got it right. I think I would lead with:

"Hi I'm So and So. We have communicated by email when you requested my full manuscript. If you have had time to look it over, I would be thrilled to hear your thoughts. I have also brought another query which could use a second set of eyes. What you think would be the best use of our ten minutes?"

No way would I avoid the topic of the full. When the little dog pulls back the curtain, I think it reveals that agents are people. Usually I can talk to people.

Colin Smith said...

Diane: You're very kind. :) You know your work and your audience better than I do, so I will defer to your judgment. I just hope you feel encouraged not to shy away from talking about your novel(s) to anyone with ears and a desire to hear you. You never know--that agent who doesn't rep hist fic might know of a newer agent who is earnestly seeking exactly what you've written. You never know.

Colin Smith said...

EM: *blushes* awww! :) I hope I'm about as intimidating as glass of water (assuming you're not the Wicked Witch of the West), so you'd have no reason to lose your cool. :)

Anonymous said...

I love that Husky.

I'd have to agree with QOTKU on all counts. Six weeks is nothing. I've had fulls out for a year and longer.

I wonder if the query work is on a second manuscript or the first one, which the agent has. That might be kind of awkward even though we all know query widely until you have an agent who loves your work.

As Colin said, agents do remember to an extent. However, they also see a lot of queries. I think writers worry far too much about this. "OMG I sent a really bad query to this agent three years ago and now I can never query them again!" You and hundreds of others sent really bad queries. Pack up and move on.

Diane, it's your choice what you do with AX, it's your book. I understand the cry for diversity. In the last twitter contest I did, someone asked me, "How many gay characters do you have in your book?"

I asked them if there was a quota now in order to be published? If so, I missed the memo. What irked me was that they didn't even care about what my story was about, just that I had met the new criteria for being published.

The response was, "I'm a poc and I write LGBT, so I have a good chance of being published."

"Well, I'm old and fat and write great stories. I think I'll be fine. I'll just change my name to J.R.R. Weathers."

I think you do yourself a disservice to shelve a book because you think it doesn't meet some current trend. Let the writing speak for itself. In the end, it's your baby, though.

Janet Reid said...

Julie Weather: lady bronc riders.
That is all.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Colin, I am a wee bit green but that's the kale. I do not think I am wicked. I don't bite and I have had all my shots. :)

Colin Smith said...

Julie: I agree. The "Diverse Books" trend at the moment is good and necessary to draw attention to the variety of characters and writers around that don't necessarily fit the majority profile. However, there are still people who enjoy reading the majority profile. I don't read books for the ethnicity or sexual orientation of the protagonist. I read books because I'm intrigued by the premise. And I don't think I'm alone in that. I loved BREATH, EYES, MEMORY by Edwidge Danticat NOT because it was about Haitians and threw a spotlight on Haitian culture, but because it was a beautifully written book with a compelling story. The fact I learned a lot about Haiti and Haitian culture was a big bonus.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

I agree with S.D., ask the agent what what they would prefer you pitch. I can understand OP's hesitancy. It's a great question for the Shark. Be bold. I can see myself shrinking in this situation.

Tomorrow night Cara Black is speaking at the American Library of Paris. A month a go I marked it on my calendar. Now I'll miss it because I have to make six hour round trip for work. Ugh!

Diana, I wouldn't shelf the Ax. And I read it. Thanks for allowing me.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Julie: (I echo Janet here) lady bronc riders.

(oh hey, my original comment posted! That's the first one my phone actually cooperated with me on. Maybe it likes all the attention I've been giving it, with novel notes and Fallout Shelter. Or maybe I'm doing that anthropomorphization thing again.)

DLM said...

Colin and Julie, thank you both. Julie, I queried every dang agent on both sides of the pond with AX and no deal. Fashions come and go, yes, but trying to be a debut author with that novel: clearly not happening. My sense is that this is because the market has a Bernard Cornwell and a Conn Iggulden already, and it's not in need of me for white dude in power stories, of which there's been no shortage. I'm not writing to trends, but the WIP *does* focus on women and poc, but that is largely because I needed out of Clovis' head after a decade there, and the cast is MUCH larger with a multi-generational novel and outside first person POV.

AX is very old school histfic. It's GOOD, but its only innovation is that Clovis's story hasn't been told in American publishing - but so what, sez American publishing ... and I have to listen to that. Only one person is literally on record as SEEKING this novel (

I wrestled with the question of writing another novel about the famous/wealthy/royal even as I was still working on AX. I blogged about the homophobic subplot, as seen through the eyes of the powerful man who despised the "debauchery". I hated putting AX away, but I'm entirely unemotional about the reasons I *believe* it's not selling. It's a long novel, a hard enough sell to begin with - and it's old-fashioned, even apart from the diversity issues. And even if Clovis in particular hasn't been seen in America, the story in general is not a new one in the most general sense. It's a good novel, and there are people who'd read it. But I don't know that there are enough people, and it's clear to me there aren't any agents pining away for a good old fashioned royal bio/national myth.

The WIP I've taken up at last is not a new idea; I came across it very early indeed in the research for AX, in fact. It's been my second novel almost as long as AX has been my first. I know what my third will be, too, have for years. I think it'll sell. (Granted, I thought the same before ...) Time will tell. But I think it's already told on AX, and to keep trying would be going backward at this point. It was heartbreaking to let go. But I think by now to keep trying would become more heartbreaking still.

LynnRodz said...

OP, I'm looking at you just like that cute little doggy is. You would be doing yourself a disservice not to bring up your MS. You have the perfect opportunity to find out if the agent has even read it yet, or to find out why s/he has passed on it. Don't waste that opportunity! And remember 6 weeks may feel like 6 months, but in agent time, it's only 6 days. Good luck!

Diane, thanks for the update on G-TEC! (Yes, that's Gossamer - The Editor Cat. Lol.)

Colin Smith said...

Janet's #MSWL contribution:

@Janet_Reid lady bronc riders. that's all. #MSWL

DLM said...

Oh, Angie. That is my day-maker. Thank you.

And I revise my demographic estimates: TWO people wanted to read Clovis' story. One now has. :)

DLM said...

G-TEC! Fantabulous, thank you Lynn! I'll be nuzzling his face later and telling him his newest nickname.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Sorry this is off topic.

Speaking of diverse books, I just read Jeanette Winterson's Why be Happy if You Can be Normal. I didn't know she was gay. I liked the title. But now I want to read more of her books. Only her writing matters to me, I don't care if she's British and writes realise instead of realize, or if she's kissing cats instead of dogs.

On one hand this diverse-quotient thing is so stupid. It's like filling out a job application in the US. But on the other hand those writers are under represented. When I went to art college one of our textbooks was an encyclopedia of artists in history. There were about two women mentioned.

Susan said...

Diane: Clicked on your link, and now I'm fascinated and want to read your book. I understand the need to set it aside, especially after so long and especially so that you can refocus your concentration/creativity on other work. But just know that even if the publishing world isn't ready for it, you do have an eager readership. Don't give up on it for too long. :)

As for the original comment--everyone else's thoughts/advice is spot on.

And that dog...Oh, that dog.

Anonymous said...

Criminy, I'm working on COWGIRLS WANTED. It's good to know someone may want it when it's done, though. Yay, me.

DLM said...

I'ma start charging a shiny nickel for Reiders to read AX. :) PayPal accepted!

Janet, my apologies for comment-hogging.

Six weeks on a full and a face-to-face to boot. Honestly, I'd be so excited I'd need industrial-grade Huggies for the meeting. Sick, perhaps, but this is is my idea of fun.

Opie, BEST OF LUCK to you, and please enjoy your meeting for all of us!!!

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Not my genre, but heck (that's the second heck today--I'm such a potty mouth!) I'll pre-order it as soon as the deal's announced in PM! Love your storytelling. :)

BJ Muntain said...

Six weeks? SIX WEEKS?

Not only is that NOT a 'no', it's 'I haven't got to that month's requests yet'.

It's possible OP took the normal 'don't talk work' as all-conference-encompassing... but no. The 'don't talk work' is only for social times. Having a session booked with an agent is *not* social - it's definitely work.

Also, OP, remember that conferences are full of learning opportunities. You *will* learn something, and you might learn a lot. A really lot of lots. So if you do talk to this agent about the first manuscript, but you've recently figured out something that will really improve it, don't be afraid to ask to have that manuscript withdrawn. You may need to send a separate e-mail after the conference, because the agent may not be keeping that kind of notes. Agents know you're learning - that's why you're at the conference, and that's why they like conferences so much. They like authors who learn.

Colin Smith said...

PM or PW... whichever... :)

RachelErin said...

I understand frustration with a perceived diversity "quota," but I think there's a positive way to look at it also. The number and kinds of enthusiastic readers are growing, and they want stories that reflect their experiences and realities. No readers that I know want ALL their books to have a protagonist like them, or set in a familiar situation, but I think its fair that most readers want those books some of the time. The most optimistic reading of this "trend" (I hope it's not a trend but part of a shift in the arts) is that there will be more readers! And more readers means more demand for books!

I'm a pretty hopeless optimist. If I weren't, I wouldn't be writing my novel.

I'm also a "what-if" writer. When I first encountered the diversity discussions (for lack of a better term), I wondered why all the people in my fantasy world were white. What would happen if the main characters were a different color? The first five or six answers were - nothing - purely cosmetic, but around changes seven or eight I started to get excited. This mystery would deepen, this conflict would be more visible, these stakes would be higher. My world shifted in a way I am convinced is positive for the story.

I actually just did it again - there's a related discussion in fantasy about how tired everyone is of medieval european (especially English) derived worlds. My world was inspired by Italy and Brazil, but mostly Italy. After reading more in my genre (thanks to this blog), I became bored with my world. Sure, it had a few cool details, but they were mostly important to me because they reminded me of my years in Italy.

So I decided to emphasize the Brazil/pre-colombian inspiration, and once again, it's not cosmetic. Pre-colombian calendars, myths, and economic society have inspired a lot of plot fixes.

I think the "diversity" question is another tool for being fresh and original, and if we question some of our first impulses when dreaming up stories, we can ultimately tell better stories. Brainstorm, analyze, pick what works for your story, execute well.

My question is how to convey these dimensions in the query. A lot of agents say they are particularly interested in diverse stories, and while they are important to mine, they are not the central conflict, and

DLM said...

racherin, because it would be perhaps unseemly to say you won my heart, I will say you won my brain with that comment. It is a wee and paltry brain, but it is house-trained and will stay out of your way.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Well Colin, I won't be first for the rest of the week because I have to be at work at 7. Come on E.M., you can be first. Read fast and type faster. Oh wait, don't forget to think. I forget that part sometimes.

LynnRodz said...

BJ, I think you're right. (It wouldn't be the first time. Lol.) OP may very well have thought s/he shouldn't talk about the MS unless asked, when Janet was referring to social time and not a one on one.

Carolynn, love your last comment, you really know how to make us laugh!

Peggy said...

racherin, I am with you 100%! I'll second DLM and say you've won my brain (what's left of it--I've had a lot of cold meds today). AND your story sounds fascinating!

I'm wondering if there's even more of your comment to come, because it looks like it got cut off...

At any rate, I know I like to see myself in stories (as a wee thing I loved BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, since Belle was a weird, bookish brunette like myself) and can only imagine others want that, too.

My current WIP is set in a future, and I've struggled with ways to convey by showing (not telling) the ways that "normal" may have changed by then--(what's left of) the US being a population that's mostly mixed-race, climate change leading to shifts in populations across the world, etc. It's a fun challenge AND it has the benefit of making me research all kinds of things I'd never thought I'd need to know (I've looked at a LOT of elevation maps, historical information about Russian nobility and titles, farming methods in Mongolia...).

At any rate, we all want to see the human experience as we know it portrayed in different settings--I think the movement toward more diversity of characters, times, places, etc. is great!

(Hope this wasn't too far off topic... racherin just struck a chord!)

Anonymous said...


In the long haul, I do write diverse books because I write strong female leads and I usually have different races. My objection is when someone starts asking me how many of this, that, and the other diverse characters I have in my books. It's like you can only ride if you're this tall according to some people.

"The most optimistic reading of this "trend" (I hope it's not a trend but part of a shift in the arts) is that there will be more readers!"

I hope this trend of demanding people fill a certain quota stops soon and people start focusing on writing great stories so much someone sits back and says later, "Hmmm, I didn't even notice that character was this because the story was so great."

Diana Gabaldon's Lord John books have certainly proven it can be done.

Anyway, on to other things before I start looking like an arse.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

If you're not stressing, writing doesn't matter to you. It's okay to stress. Just channel it so stress improves your writing.

RachelErin said...

I completely agree with you - any kind of theme/character quota checklist is counterproductive. I hope that part will be a fast trend.

Who are the people asking you this? Other authors, or industry professionals? It sounds so misguided. I think the vast majority of hopeful authors tweeting "I've got a POC LGBT MC, so I'll be fine," are going to be disappointed. A fantastic book does not call attention to its "diversity" credentials. Or any other kind of agenda. If the stories aren't great, there's no point.

Thanks Peggy and DLM - I am shy of sharing here sometimes, because I'm a little starstruck by the talent, dedication, and experience of this crowd. It's nice to know I've contributed. And Peggy - I love reading about dramatically altered future-earths.

BJ Muntain said...

Thanks, Lynn. :)

Princess Sha'el! You're back!

Christina Seine said...

*Repeats out loud*
Six weeks is nothing.
Six weeks is nothing.
Six weeks is nothing.

Anonymous said...


I'm glad you uncloaked and posted.

I completely agree. I have pretty much stopped the twitter contests though some people seem to be doing well with them and getting requests. The questions are from participating writers who seem to think it's all right to go around asking how many characters of abc or xyz you have in your WIP and reminding everyone diversity matters. Yes, it does, but great writing trumps all.

DLM said...

racherin, you make good say-things and what writerly group doesn't like that? :D (Some people have a way with words. Some people (c'est moi) not ... do be having ... that way.)

Julie, you write the world as it is, that's good writing - and you write stories that are rather more alive than mine. That's all it takes. I don't think there is a quota , but there is a movement, and it's a good movement; as we were observing at JRW this weekend, "The default is white." Kids grow up feeling invisible. #WeNeedDiverseBooks originated in the context of kids - and it's not just a racial/gender issue, it addresses disability and socio-economic or class status, mental illness or physical and developmental differences, age, all those who may feel marginalized. Having recently been reacquainted with the first boy I ever loved, who suffers mental illness, this struck home in a new way.

#WNDB boils down to this - stereotyping is lazy writing. Forgetting people unlike ourselves exist is lazy writing. We know you are no lazy writer; probably nobody here is. My internalizing the diversity issue is *born* of THE AX AND THE VASE, it's likely I have felt some constraint, living in Clovis's head for a decade and more. I do hope I am not coming off as didactic. But, as for me, more readers = all to the good. And characters who take me well out of myself = joyous!

Unknown said...

So what if an agent seeks you out and asks to see a pitch. When you pitch they are excited and ask to see your first few chapters (it's a non-fiction history mss), acknowledge they received the chapters and will read them "next week" and then never, ever email with you again? I followed up once but got no response. I'm not heart-broken just think it was rude of her. She contacted me. Thanks.

Theresa said...

Kate, I had a similar thing happen. Many years ago I connected with an agent who wanted to add more non-fiction history authors to his/her clientele. I pitched the project I was working on at the time, and though the agent couldn't see its commercial appeal he/she liked my writing and asked if I had other projects in mind. So we talked some things over and the agent got really interested in a couple of those ideas. I wrote those up as brief proposals, as we had agreed, and I never, ever heard a thing back. I was such a flash in the pan.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I want COWGIRLS WANTED. I want to go to the movie COWGIRLS WANTED.
One of my recent columns covered the whole strong women in movies thing, my daughter's and I call it required watching, BABY BOOM, LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, ALIEN, UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, to name a few plus one, COWGIRLS WANTED would be a great movie and book addition. This excites me. AND I'm not the only one here who is.

Pam Powell said...

There's a great shark video at Surfers PR on Facebook.

Is it Janet in a hunt for Aussie writers?
Is it Her Sharkiness surfing tandem with a new client? Way to show him off!

Janet Reid said...


Here's the  great shark video at Surfers PR on Facebook.

Pam Powell said...

Hey, Janet!

Thank you! That's the one!

John Frain said...

If hang ten means hanging ten toes over the front of the board, then this guy gets a caption worth bragging about: HANG 50! He's dangling 50 flippin' shark teeth over the front of his board.

I found the longer version of the video on YouTube. Apparently the guy's a writer. At the conclusion, he says, "Writing a novel is like surfing with a shark in your face. You can only see as far as the shark's snout, but you can make the whole trip to shore that way."

E.L. Surforow. He's also another one a them unreliable narrators.

Curtis Moser said...

I don't comment here very often, but I had to chime in and say that dog picture is hilarious. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

LOVE the Poofs video.

Now THAT'S a woodland creature with big acorns.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey Curtis, I LOVE your BAD DOG cover !

Pam Powell said...

Ha! Curtis! I agree with 2Ns. Great cover!

JEN Garrett said...

Janet is right (of course). As a Picture Book writer, I feel your pain, though. I'd submitted to some of the agents before a conference and wondered "What do I do?" I didn't get a chance to pitch at the conference, but afterward I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to get out of the slush-pile. Here's what I did:

I decided if the manuscript I'd submitted was still a good fit. If it was, I simply queried with it again using the conference subject line and mentioned that this was a revised version of an earlier submission. If I thought another MS would work better, then I queried with the new one and said why I thought it would be a better fit.