Monday, February 15, 2016

A longer quiz (part two)

In part one of today's blog post, there was a quiz about what to do when you get an offer and you have requested fulls out with other agents.

Scenario One:
You've sent out queries and gotten several requests for full manuscripts. You've sent those out. You've gotten confirmation of receipt. At least one of those receipts mentions the dreaded "wait 90 days before following up".

Then, trumpets sound! Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent! It's not quite a miracle of course cause that's a Damn Fine Novel, but you're feeling pretty damn good!

What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (after doing all the stuff you're supposed to about questions and research etc)?
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

Scenario Two:
Trumpets sound! Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent!This one IS a miracle because it's absolutely your Dream Agent! Your DREAM AGENT wants YOU!!! You're not just feeling good, you're feeling so good you can leap tall buildings in a single bound.
What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (this is, after all, Dreamy herself!)
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

 Scenario Three
More quickly than you thought possible, less than 30 days later, Angels arrive! An offer! You're going to have an agent! You're so stunned at how quickly this happened that you actually call the library to verify today's date.
What do you do next?
1. Accept the offer (given that you're not supposed to nudge anyone till at least 90 days later)
2. Ask for some time to give other agents who've requested fulls time to read?
3. Accept the offer and notify the other agents who've requested fulls that you've accepted the offer and thank them for their time?

This is the ONLY right answer. Even if the agent making the initial offer is your Absolute Must Have Dream Agent. Even if it's been less than 90 days.  Even if you're terrified the offer will be withdrawn (it won't, as long as it's a SHORT window: less than a week)

Here's why: if you sign with an agent (any agent), then email me to tell me, my conclusion is you signed with someone you preferred more than me. No problem. I can live with not being your first choice.  Of course I feel a bit insulted but I'm not going to do anything about it like write back and say "how about a heads up here, Writerly One."

BUT if that relationship with Shiny New Agent doesn't work out (and I hope it does, really I do) and you're querying again next year, and you start with all the people who liked your work before (ie me) you're not Shiny Prospective Client anymore. I'm the one you didn't want the first time around. You think I don't remember? Think again.

If you believe "don't nudge for 90 days" means you shouldn't let me know of an offer, you're incorrect. I'd rather know than not. Give me a chance to get in the scrum. I'm a competitive beast. It's one of the things that makes me good at this job, and dreadful at a lot of others (nun, truckstop waitress, girl scout.)

Publishing is a long game, and you'll be very smart not to burn any bridges unless you absolutely have to.

Is this the post of a massively inflated ego? Yes of course. But it's still true, and it's still something to watch out for. In other words, my ego probably isn't shrinking ever anytime soon.


BJ Muntain said...

Okay. I'm following your logic here, but...

When you say "my conclusion is you signed with someone you preferred more than me"... What's the difference there if I were to give you time to read my manuscript and make an offer, yet chose another agent anyway? Then you'll *know* that I chose the other agent over you. And if I do, for some reason, wind up looking for an agent again, wouldn't the result be the same?

John Frain said...

So help me understand the difference between:

Option 2) Dear You, another agent just recognized my brilliance and wants to rep me. You have 7 days to come back with a better offer

(Five days later after you offer)... Sorry, I'm sticking with agent 1, but thank you for getting back to me.


Option 3) Dear You, another agent just recognized my brilliance and wants to rep me. To save you the time of reading my manuscript, I'm withdrawing it from consideration at this time. Thank you for your interest.

In both options, if I have to go back a year later and query again because things didn't work out, it seems you'd remember me as something less than Shiny Prospective Client because in both cases you're not the one I wanted the first time around.

To me, I didn't waste your time in Option 3 and I didn't actually reject you as I did in Option 2.

Colin Smith said...

I'm trying to work out how this post could be construed to be the work of a massively inflated ego. If the answer to all three questions was, "Choose me. All other agents stink like a sumo wrestler's jock strap!" then, okay, that's a bit on the bloated ego side. But allowing other agents time to respond? I don't think that's at all egotistical. Help me out here, fellow Reiders. :)

Colin Smith said...

BJ: The difference is, you're giving the agent an opportunity to say no. You're not saying "I've chosen Agent Q," rather you're saying, "Agent Q has made an offer of representation. If you're interested, you have a week to put in your offer." At the end of the week, yes, you will have chosen one over the others, but at least the others will feel as though they had a chance to pass or put up a fight. Otherwise it's appears you had a favorite from the outset, and no-one else really stood a chance.

Lucie Witt said...

Woo hoo! I answered correctly. This might be my only victory today.

**off topic**

Late last night I finished* my R&R!

Finished of course just means completing the draft. Today I'm polishing it, then sending to betas, then polishing some more, then I'm turn it back in.

I thought of you guys when I started my word search for overused and filler words. When I searched "fuck" I discovered out of 70,032 words, I used it 54 times. It was a regular fuck fest!

Kate Larkindale said...

Very wise advice. Your dream agent may not turn out to be the best fit for you once you've talked to her and heard her vision for your book, and one of the others who has your full might be the one whose vision lines up perfectly with yours. Give anyone who has your full 10 days or so to read it, and you may find you have 2-3 offers to consider. And all of them will have different things to say about your book, any future books and your career.

I had to do this when I got my agent. I ended up going with the first offer, but only because that agent's ideas for my work really resonated with me. And she didn't seem frightened by the subject matter of the next book I hoped to give her (and now have).

Colin Smith said...

John: As I suggested to BJ, the difference is with option 2 you're not stating a preference. There is no "sticking with the agent who first offered" because you haven't chosen yet. All you're saying is that an agent has offered, and you would like others to have a chance to offer too. If you have to choose between multiple offers, wonderful. If no-one else offers, you might go with the one who did. Or you might not. Another great reason for the wait time: it gives YOU the chance to really consider if the agent who offered is right for you. As an unagented writer, it seems stupid to say it, but you might actually pass on that one agent who offered. Maybe in that week you decide the novel's not really ready, or on further investigation (and perhaps with further dialog, talking to clients, etc), you decide she's not a good fit for you long term. That's the difference as I see it.

Unknown said...

Congratulations on finishing your R&R, Lucie -- and on having the patience to go through the necessary polishing iterations rather than just sending it right back! (Patience is not my strong suit, but the querying/submission process is giving me plenty of opportunities to practice.)

I think everyone's comments have helped me answer my earlier question. Sure, an agent could theoretically camp on queries and hope the querier gives them a chance to respond to other full requests, but realistically only other full requesters should expect the chance to respond.

Unknown said...

I was pretty sure the answer was 2 every single time. That's what I did--actually, I ended up taking 3 weeks to decide-- and out of three offering agents, the one I picked wasn't the one I expected. She was, in fact, one of the ones who dropped everything to read the MS after I notified the agents with the full MS that I had an offer. Also, I've had friends in the "I left my agent" situation, and I bet they're glad they didn't burn any bridges with the other agents who were previously interested.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Oh Janet. A nun? Lord have mercy.

Glad I aced the quiz.

But I had not come up with the reason you gave. The Long Memory of Literary Agents. Heaven forbid I accidentally rub an agent's ego the wrong way. *sigh* And some days my social skills go skittering under the bed to stay there and hide.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Doing happy dance, I was right.

Trips over Lucie Witt doing a high kick and falls on floor.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Oh good, the Shark has taught me well!

It doesn't seem terribly ego driven to me. What's been put forth is honest and businesslike, in a world where without this blog and a few other select sources, everything is the terrible yawning gulf of unknowning.

Colin Smith said...

Lucie: YAY! Congrats!! :) 54 times out of 70,032 words? That's not many, statistically speaking. I've read novels that would easily get 54 in by the first 2-3,000 words. Heck, at the Bouchercon session I attended where one of the audience asked about swearing in novels to Karin Slaughter et al., I'm sure the panel clocked in well over 50 f*s (and variations on that word) in less than 2 mins!

Not that I'm laying down the gauntlet. As a non-swearer, I'd be okay with your 54. :)

nightsmusic said...

I didn't answer the quiz because I finally, FINALLY had something to do at work today! But yes, my answers would have been two and here's why (for me):

Those agents who requested a full did so because they saw something in your writing they wanted to pursue further. Maybe it wouldn't have been right for them in the long run, but if you're a dick to them and just tell them to take a leap, next time (if there is one) you're querying around, they'll remember how much of a dick you were and might not want to be bothered with you a second time.

So yes, along the lines Janet posted, but really, how hard is it to be nice occasionally in the publishing world. Just because we have NORMANs doesn't mean we have to be dickheads in return, because you just never know.

Unknown said...

Lucie Witt: YAY! Congratulations!

I agree that I don't see ego in this post. On the other hand I'm not completely objective where QOTKU is involved.

I should clarify that in my comment on the previous post I said I'd ask for two weeks; this is mostly because I live in Europe but most of the agents involved would probably be in the US. Sometimes time differences can make it difficult to schedule calls. I'd be curious, Janet, as to whether you think ten days to two weeks would be out of line in this situation.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Go Lucie. We really are at same place. I finished drafting revision last Monday. Proofing today. Then out to 2 betas and an editor for sanity check. Then query and synopsis revision. Getting closer.

Good to know that even if offering agent is Janet, get that week for pondering, courtesy, and weighing options.

And now I have a picture of a shark in sumo gear stuck in my head. Thanks for that Colin. And if it came down to an agent Hunger Games, I feel certain Janet would win every time.

Donnaeve said...

*quickly searches folder on desktop, opens A BLACK WATER SEASON, a.k.a. The Hard Crime Novel, does find on fuck, cringes. Closes doc.*

Well, Lucie...I have fuck exactly 104 times in a 96,821 word manuscript, which is 26K more words than you but still, that's double the fucks. At this point they're staying.

Yay. I was right too. Well. Half right, b/c I was reading the comments, and I picked one of the people who gave a right answer. See how that works?

Unknown said...

I always get these quizzes wrong. Fortunately, I'm used to it and have talked myself into being proud of being good at being wrong.

YAY LUCIE! Not for finishing your first draft, but for the proper use of fuck fest in a sentence.

Unknown said...

Ooh, I had to get in on this too:
3 out of 91,511 (YA sci-fi)
0 out of 53,721 (MG fantasy)

Probably many more in the game of Minecraft my 9-year-old son is playing right next to me.

Adib Khorram said...

I think there's also a lot to be said for giving an agent the chance to offer, even if you don't end up choosing them. It's one thing to be in the running for a great manuscript and lose it to someone who was a better fit; it's quite another thing not to be considered at all.

And yes—giving an agent a chance to read and fall in love with your work, even if they don't end up representing you, can only be a positive going forward.

Colin Smith said...

*sigh*... I can see where this is going... someone will suggest a f*ometer to gauge the amount of swearing in a novel. Then someone will suggest a holyf*ometer to gauge how good a novel is. Then someone's going to come up with a f*formula for determining those scores.

And Janet will bookmark and favorite the entire comment stream. ;)

Lennon Faris said...

Good to know you can ask for time and not seem rude!

Glad to hear of your progress, Lucie and E.M.!

Lucie Witt said...

EM, it really is wild how at the same place we've been with our R&Rs.

Donnaeve, laughing about double the fucks is going to get me through the 304 "justs" I discovered in my draft. Sigh. I left a lot of the fucks in, but it is YA so I do feel like I have to be more judicial with them than I am in my adult stuff (even just because adults can say fuck whenever they want, and that's not always the case for teens).

Thanks, Amanda ;)

John Frain said...

Okay, so we can pretty much agree that the obvious answers were 2-2-2. Not much mystery there, right?

So let's play contrarian for a moment.

Anyone in business has this happen to them. A company is told they have to go out to bid on a project. They know who they're going to choose. They decided before the bid process. But procurement requires them to get three bids.

So they put the job out to bid, even though in reality they really don't. What they effectively do is make two companies jump through hoops, spend resources of time and money, and then award the contract to the very people they originally planned to. Because they chose Option 2.

That seems to be the accepted way here in America.

I propose that unless you're actually entertaining a reality where you might choose someone else to award your business, it's unethical to go out to bid. If you already know you're going to award your business to a firm (let's call this firm Dream Agent, Inc.), then you're being unethical by requiring two other firms to go through the process of responding under the assumption that they have a chance to win the bid. You should instead award the business to your selected firm (Dream Agent, Inc.) and if other firms come calling, then be real about it: tell them not to waste their resources on a bid they can't win.

A couple years down the road, when the contract comes up for bid again (or, say, you have a different manuscript to offer) and you're no longer happy with Dream Agent, Inc. then you can go out to bid with those other firms and tell them they have a realistic shot at winning your business. This would be Option 3 as I read it.

I think both Option 2 and Option 3 are both polite and ethical depending on the reality of your situation. I also believe the earth can be flat or round and Schrodinger's Cat has 18 lives depending on where I find myself at the moment.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Congrats EM and Lucie! :)

On the topic of cursing... As previously mentioned, I will on occasion curse like a sailor, but I'm pretty sure fuck is in my WIP a grand total of 0 times. I'm writing a fantasy, and it just doesn't seem like a old-timey curse. How's that for selective?

Fun fact: according to Wikipedia, the first known instance of fuck as a word with sexual connotation was in 1310. It refers to a local man as Roger Fuckebythenavele.

Also, for those interested, as of John's comment, the f-word has been used 9 times in about 2500 words, or about .3% For contrast, that's about 390% higher than Lucie's novel.

Karen said...

I did this, years ago, when your advice was fresh from the sea. I had several offers from agents, I spoke to them all and after I chose one I called the others and said thank you for the offer, I so appreciate it, but I am going with A.N.Other because I think they are the right person for me right now.

They weren't as it happens. I considered throwing self in sea but I'm a diver so it wouldn't have helped, I like sharks and I know how to stop them eating me!

Fast forward some years (sound of tides going in and out), I have a new novel, well part of a new novel actually, I write again to lovely agent I did not choose last time. I ask politely if she remembers me, I give a recap of the situation and I offer 10k words of fiction for her to sneer at. She does not sneer. She remembers me. She offers representation. I accept. We work on novel together. She is invaluable. I now have completed novel and an agent.

Be nice, be willing to humble yourself to ask again if you know you were professional last time - agents aren't the only ones with egos - but mainlu, always be nice. It is easy and it keeps doors ajar.

Colin Smith said...

John: I think the problem is in your initial premise: You've already chosen an agent. All the advice I've read (I can't speak from experience) says Don't Do This. As others have said, Dream Agents are a fantasy. Janet seems like the Dream Agent to most of us, but she'll be the first to tell us that she is not the right agent for all of us. And we might not know who that agent is until we get that call and we talk to that person. And even then, we might not know. Sure, we'll have a list of agents we like the sound of, and who seem wonderful online, and are wonderful in person. But let's keep our options open until we have to make a choice. There are too many stories of woodland creatures who pounced on the first agent to show interest, and ended up stuck with a nightmare, not a dream.

Sara Halle said...

I didn't ace the quiz, but I still think that it's worth talking to the agent who offers to represent you first before contacting others with fulls. If the potential agent turns out not to be a good fit, then you should say no because it's better to turn down the wrong person, right? And if I contact other agents who have fulls, I'm taking the risk that someone is so busy s/he decides to pass rather than read my manuscript in a rush. But that person could've been great if I'd given them more time...

Or am I missing something?

Sara Halle said...

This is off topic, but I thought it was funny:

My subconscious must've greatly missed having a flash fiction contest this past weekend because last night I dreamt that there'd been a contest. But this time, in a twist, Janet included numbers as well as prompt words (the numbers: 1.4 and 2.6). I'd just finished writing a "terms of service" story with those numbers when I woke up.

Anonymous said...


In your contract situation there are some reasons that might not work out. Sometimes a bid has to also take into consideration the bottom line. Often on government bids. This came up in a real estate law class.

In a sealed bid situation, once they submit it, the bid cannot be changed. One company submitted a bid and realized too late they hadn't included the elevators. Since this was a multi-story office building, this was going to kill the profit on the job. They tried to rescind the bid, but couldn't.

The guy explained what happened. The secretary told him not to worry. The guy said, "I don't think you understand." The secretary said, "I don't think you understand. That guy who just left, looking like he was about to commit suicide, submitted the bid that left out the entire top floor of the building."

Back in a previous life, I got offers of rep from a few agents on my children's books and my suspense. Even though I was green as a gourd, I didn't jump at the first agent who called. I actually visited with them, some more than once. I was pretty sure I was going to go with the lady in NY for the children's books from the beginning, but I wanted to visit with the others. She was the right choice.

She was very professional, told me we needed to do some work, gave me her vision for the books, asked me what I wanted to do with my writing career. She seemed genuinely interested in setting me on a solid foundation.

I lost my mind with the suspense. All but one told me we had work to do. The one who thought it was great just like it was focused more on the cattle baron story, but yeah, sure the suspense is going to be a best seller. We're in Texas. We're new so we're more vibrant and we can spend a lot of time on you. (In other words, they didn't have any clients.) YES! Best seller!! They're from Texas!!!!!

If any agent mentions best seller, run for the hills. I called the other agents and let them know I'd found an agent, thanks for your time. See you on the best seller list!!!

Dream agent might look good on paper, but you don't really know what an agent has in mind for you until you visit with them professionally. That's when you see if you two have the same vision for your career. Don't jump too quickly. This is a decision that can seriously affect your writing career.

In 1849, Lottie Moon left a young lieutenant named Burnside at the altar after he had just vowed to love, honor, and cherish her as long as they both should live. When it came time to take her vows she paused, looked around and then said, "No, siree, Bob. I do not," and stalked out of the church.

A few months later she was going to the altar again. This time the groom came prepared and pressed a small pistol to her back. "Lottie, there will either be a wedding tonight or a funeral tomorrow," he whispered. There was a wedding.

Some years later Lottie and her sister, both Confederate sympathizers and spies, were hauled up before a Union general who was exceedingly harsh on sympathizers. General Burnside was put in charge of the two.

It's always good not to burn your bridges.

Unknown said...

I think we know different girl scouts. :) I've met girl scouts who could scare the fin off of a shark during cookie sales. And let's not even talk about being the first to earn certain badges in the troop. I still tremble when I see a box of Thin Mints.

Colin Smith said...

Sara: Janet has included numbers in the prompt words before. Check out The Dangerous Fiction Writing Contest from August, 2013, and the TWO breathtaking winning entries. You might notice some familiar names among the finalists.

Catherine1216 said...

I am going to go back and read every single entry on this blog before I ever submit. You have such good advice.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Coming late to the comments today. I thought it was #2 for all three possibilities. Amy Schafer and several other vommenters give great explanations.

From personal experience I would say to not take the first offer. I can't say this with working with literary agents. Even if you think it is dream agent it may not be in your best interest. Do not jump on the first offer. I wish I would have spoken with one of my past agent's clients before I opened the champagne. It takes time to recover from a working relationship that is not what you imagined it could have been. And it can leave a scar on your career or your psyche.

Now I'll go read the previous vomments of the second half of this quiz.

Cindy C said...

Yay, I got them all right! I think I'll just go to bed now so I can end the day on this high note.

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

John, There is no reason to concede to "ethical conventions" for your writing career. You are not wasting someone else's time. An ethical, agent will expect you to weigh your options.

I love that QOTKU says she has a big ego. I bet it's not for us woodland creatures, but it's for all those agents who silently follow this blog.

Sherry Howard said...

I don't have any insightful comments to add now that I've finished my celebratory drinks for being smRt enough to answer correctly, since we've been over this territory several times here.

But I did get a laugh about the question of fuck in literature, Lucie et al. True story. Growing up siblings called me Sister Mary Sherry since I was perfect- no, really I was. I don't share my writing with my family, but recently I sent a short story I wrote to my mother. She commented it was hilarious, which puzzled me because it was a tear-jerker. Her explanation: it was hilarious to her because I used fuck. (Honestly, I forgot. Didn't mean to burn her 86yo ears!) Have a fucking nice day!

Donnaeve said...

Have mercy, I had to stop for a breather after reading Colin's *fmeter f*o'meter comment and Lucie discovering 304 justs. Been there, and about to be there again in couple months when I will hopefully but a THE END on my current WIP.

Now, on to read the rest of the comments!

ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) said...

Massively inflated ego? No, I don't see it in this post. Frankly, I think it's always wise to sleep on an offer - and wait on any other potentials. Maybe the original offer is your dream agent - but what if another agent turns out to be even more in tune with you than you anticipated? It simply cannot hurt to wait a bit and to look upon everything after a deep breath.

And on the "inform all others" side, I have to say, when I did this the first time around - for both agents with pages and those with only a query, I received the most personalized responses to date. I received notes of congratulations from most- none of which used the generic"Dear Author." To me the courtesy of letting other agents know seemed appropriate (and of course a good business move), but the results told me it was probably the wisest step I'd made so far in the publication journey.

So yes, answer 2. Always answer #2.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Damn it all, I forgot to congratulate Lucie on finishing the draft on her R&R! Congrats Lucie!

Sherry: I used to be really worried about my grandmother reading what I wrote. Then I had a conversation with her one Christmas which revealed to me that she'd not only read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but seen the first of the Swedish movies. With my grandfather. Who had not read the books. But he didn't fall asleep the whole time! (I'll be he didn't....) But. It took that to reconcile that my grandmother was a grownup who made her own decisions, and if she can handle Stieg Larsson, she can handle me.

Anonymous said...

Lucie, congratulations! An R&R is a big thing. A completed one is monumental.

AJ Blythe said...

Waddya know, my brain still worked at 1am and I got them all right =)

Julie said...

Once again, you show some weird ability to answer the most important questions I haven't asked you yet.

And once again...



Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Yay. I did well on the quiz.

It isn't necessarily the what that makes an answer good but the why.


Meanwhile, a brief content search of my works reveals not a single F-bomb.

Not a one.

Theresa said...

I'm a bit late to the quiz today, but I guessed right about the answers. Still, I can understand how an offer (and follow-up Q&A session or sessions) from Dream Agent could lead a woodland creature to withdraw the mss from the others.

nightsmusic said...

Lucie, congrats! Go have a big, huge glass of your beverage of choice (mine would be 100 year old Macallan - a big glass, neat, to sip on all night) and enjoy the relaxation because the resubmit means the anxiety starts. :) (aren't you glad I chimed in?)

I have no fucks in my WIP. Well, I do, but not verbal ones...maybe because it's a regency werewolf. Upper class and all...stiff upper lip. Stiff upper whiskers? Stiff canines? Stiff...never mind. I'll stop while I'm ahead here...

(evidently an ellipsis and parenthesis kind of day today!)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Lucie, "just" has been bane of all my revisions. It creeps back in no matter how hard I try to eradicate it. Now, it has escaped into my synopsis.

I write fantasy and the f-bomb just isn't the shit in my alternative universe. So cursing is also alternative.

I suspect it will take me longer to revise and improve my query than it did to edit my manuscript. And I am still over 125,000 words :/ I wish the call would come to spare me another round of querying, but it is what it is. At least I have good company from both sides of this agonizing process while battling through the trenches.

Donnaeve said...

Forgot to say congrats to you, Lucie on finishing the 50% of your R&R! Definitely celebrate!

And just think, when you remove the "justs," you can then move on to "thats" and "nodded his/her heads" and "clapped their hands," and...

My current WIP has no fucks in it either. Nary a one. Then again, the time frame is 1940, and it's set in NC Appalachian mountains, so that word would fit there like wearing a fur coat while picking shucky beans.

Panda in Chief said...

After 37 years in the land of nice,(Seattle) I have finally exorcised enough of my east coast snarkiness to value niceness. Glad to see it is useful, as well as surprisingly fun.
Not that I don't enjoy dropping liberal amounts of *f*bombs in conversation, it's just that I'm nicer about it.

I guessed option #2 for all the scenarios. Yay!

Janice Grinyer said...

Do not burn your bridges- noted.

If time is not crucial, I can understand why it would be to a writer's benefit to receive feedback from all Literary Agents who are still "processing" their full. Any feedback received has to be worth its weight in gold; in a way, they are the ultimate beta reader.

It can also help a writer's final decision by the way the Agent responds in giving feedback too. It is, after all, a working relationship both sides are committing to. You want to make it a healthy one.

So, feedback and all the numerous offers. Yep. I'll take an order of that to go, please. ;)

Lucie Witt said...

Thanks for all the congrats, y'all. You know how to make a person feel supported. No one in my offline life understands comments like "well, 54 fucks is only .007% of my total word count," or "my GOD how do I have over 300 justs."

John Frain said...

Okay, I'll be swayed. Changing my belief. Granted, I'm changing at about the same pace an aircraft carrier changes direction in the middle of the Pacific (see also: speed of publishing), but if I get multiple agents clamoring over my manuscript, I will invoke #2.

Totes McGoats, all I can say.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I have a ton of fucks in my WIP. Proud of them, I mean really, it is the voice of the character.
Hey, did you ever notice that when one person says fuck, everybody starts saying it.

It's like years ago, when smoking in public began to fall out of favor, it took one person to light up and then everybody pulled out their pack of Camels, Marlboros and Virginia Slims and shared a Bic.

Saying or writing fuck sure turns a lot of people off but at least it doesn't burn holes in your couch or turn your lungs black.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

And to think that Janet was concerned that the subheader would need context... Not in this bunch! Also, nightmusic, you made me laugh out loud with your "...but not verbal ones" comment.

Dervla McTiernan said...

I agree that the answers are all 2 If the reasons is that you might be wrong about who Dream Agent is, and you won't find out until you talk to everyone. But I don't agree with going through the motions so as not to offend, for similar reasons to those given by John Frain. When I sold a house a few years ago an agent wanted us to list it for a price lower than I would accept and I said no. Her logic was it might start a bidding competition and as people are not always rational in this situation we might end up with a higher price. My response was ...what do I say to the person who offers the asking price when I know there is no way I was never going to accept it? I don't like wasting other people's time. I'd rather play it all straight. In the example given if I know that there is no possible way I would go with anyone but the offering agent, I would not be comfortable playing games with the other agents.

Anonymous said...

I don't think I posted on the other thread, but #2 was my guess for all the scenarios. Sadly they're just that at the moment as all my queries have come back with the response 'not for me' recently.

I think I have one fuck in the one I'm querying, but I'm trying a rewrite as young adult so it might not last. With my current WIP I can tell how stressed my main character is by how much he swears.

Just is one of my bugbears, too. I find things like wordle helpful for seeing how I'm doing with crutch words as it gives an easy visual visual. I'd just stands out, I've used it too much. Watching crutch words shrink way in subsequent drafts is very satisfying.

Anonymous said...

The way I see it, Option 2 is saying, "Okay everyone, you know I'm awesome, ready--FIGHT!" while Option 3 is saying, "Thank you for showing up, the winner is AwesomerThanYou Agent, don't let the door hitcha on the way out."

Then there's the worst: Option 1 saying to all agents that show up after the first one, "Gee, you got here on time and drove all this way, but we did the thing already. You lost."

On another note, and hopefully I won't be sentenced to Carkoon for this, I have zero interest in soliciting Janet as my agent. I write fantasy. All types of fantasy. I barely even read crime or thrillers. We've got just about 0% business compatibility. That doesn't stop me from imagining running into her at a conference and pulling a dashing line like, "Oh, Your Majesty! I didn't recognize you! Please forgive this humble chum for excessive use of exclamation points in your presence!" We'll never be business partners, but it'd sure be swell to be friends.

Here's where I'm a hypocrite--due to earlier blog posts on the subject of querying, and the Queen's own words, I've fancied throwing a query her way. Not because I want her to be my agent (see above) but because of how much I value her opinion.

Final note: I didn't count the "justs" in my WIP. I was too busy weeping at the sight of them. I recall one page with 20 on it. ONE. PAGE.

Lucie Witt said...

Lucia, I wonder how many of us who don't write categories Janet reps but have read her say (I'm paraphrasing here) "I'd rather you query me anyways" are currently debating querying her. I write YA and adult, all heavy on the romance (including sex scenes) so I'm leaning towards not querying as I truly don't think that's her cup of tea. I likely won't query at all because while I value her opinion tremendously I also don't want to waste her time if I know we're not the right fit.

If I ever get my nonfiction platform more developed and have a stellar book proposal, though, you better believe she's my first query.

Colin Smith said...

Lucia & Lucie: There's always Query Shark. :)

Anonymous said...

Lucie, well, I know of at least one person around here amongst us chum who's done so. That's at the top of reasons to do it for me, along with the one you mentioned.

Colin, at least if I query her directly, I'll get a Sharquely form rejection to stroke while I sob hysterically. Query Shark sounds more like an abyss from which there is a 99% chance of listening to the echoes of hope die away slowly, and a 1% chance of being eaten alive.

If I felt the actual query itself needed work, I'd send to Query Shark in a heartbeat, though. ^^ Nowhere near polishing my query at the moment. I'm not eager for her to screech at me to finish the book before I query when I know that already.

S.D.King said...

To me, it all smacks of "Hi, Jason, wanted you to know that John has asked me to the prom. I told him to give me a week to consider his offer. Just wanted you to know that others think I am a worthy date. Let me know if you have an offer."

Yes, yes, I know that this is business, but it feels more like Toddlers and Tiaras some days. "Pick ME!", sweetheart, you don't know the rules, you told us who you were in your first sentence of your query letter!! (This is where the judge pulls the lever and the trap door opens.)

Panda in Chief said...

I don't at all feel like asking for time to contact the other agents with full proposals is disrespectful to anyone; accepting, or no response yet folks. Of course it's all in the way you word your response to the agent who is offering representation AND the other agents with fulls.

I would say to the agent who has offered representation: I'm so excited I can't see straight. Could we have a conversation about the path for this and future novels, and then give me a couple days/a week to talk to some of your other clients / mull it over?
If they say "no," then you are done here...this is not the agent you're looking for. But since you have done your research, they will probably say yes.

Assuming accepting agent seems like someone you can work with....

Then you move on to all the other agents who have a full. You say: "Since you have requested a full MS, I wanted to let you know that I have received an offer of representation. If you think you might be interested in my novel (and me) please let me know in the next 3 days. I want to make sure I have the best partner to bring this and all my future works to market. Otherwise, I respectfully withdraw my work from your consideration. Thank you so much for considering representation of my work"

Getting an agent is so much like getting the right gallery to represent one's paintings. Hopefully you will be working with them for a long time. It is about more than the money.

DeadSpiderEye said...

This principle, while it might be sound, would be extraordinarily tough for a lot, if not most folk with publishing aspirations, to adhere to. The level of effort is so great and the degree of acknowledgement so minuscule in comparison, that I can't see the first offer being considered so casually in most circumstances. I suppose it depends what's at stake, if someone gets a positive response to their first novel a after moderate degree of effort, yeah sure, I can see it happening. What kind of percentage of aspiring authors would that be? If it's greater then 0.05%, then that would be a surprise for me. What's gonna happen in most circumstances, is that when that positive response to a query comes through; the adrenaline hit is going to be so hard, that dotted line is gonna have a signature on it as soon as the author can get their hand to stop shaking.

roadkills-r-us said...

I'm going to have to completely reread this blog before commenting further. I got to "nun, truckstop waitress, girl scout", lost the comma, and started writing a story in my head about a "nun truckstop waitress girl scout". I may need to make some notes on that one.
Did I mention that she has a face that somehow reminds me of a shark?

roadkills-r-us said...

DeadSpiderEye said, "...I can't see the first offer being considered so casually in most circumstances."

While I get what you are saying, I would contend that this is the opposite of casual. This is considering your writing career. It's much easier for most of us to focus on writing and be casual about the career, which means we grab the first offer without really thinking it through.

DeadSpiderEye said...


I did ponder on that choice of words, it was either casual or sanguine, I settled on casual because I consider the point I was addressing to be slightly contentious. I don't want to overstate it, because I'm probably wrong but in my experience the, can I call you next week about your offer line, is not well received. Of course it's all relevant to context, it depends who you are, which is why I made my comment in relation to aspiring authors.

Regarding your point about focus, I know it's not the same for everyone but most of the creative types I encounter get into a hyper mode while they're working. Their focus is so concentrated and can be sustained for so long, everything else, all the sundry tasks, fade out of existence. You see them wearing three day old shirts, some of 'em even forget to eat. Expecting them to be nursing the tender feeling of prospective associates, after they've been sustaining themselves with fags, bourbon biscuits and sleeping twelve hours a week, is a teeny bit of a tall order.