Friday, April 08, 2016

A non-offer offer

Just received email from an agent who passed on MS because she's been suffering health problems since last fall and felt she'd held onto it too long -- i.e., she can't take on any new clients until she catches up. But she said, "I absolutely adore this work and feel it would be a shame to let it fall into oblivion."

So yeah, huge ego boost, plus disappointment. She said to check back in July or later if I still don't have representation. (I'm guessing health, and efforts needed for current clients, are open issues.)

I've got partials and a full out with other agents at this time. Had I received an offer, it would be proper to inform them so they could weigh in if interested. But it doesn't feel right to inform them of a non-offer that might, maybe, someday, turn into an offer. I'd be pushing them.

Then I think that if an offer came in, and other agents were informed, they generally are only given a week to respond, and that's a tight timetable for such busy people. So informing them of this "non-offer" could give them three months to consider further, which would be more courteous.

Argh. So am I correct that it would NOT be proper to tell anyone of this email? Or would it be right to tell other agents with partials/fulls so they could schedule it in?

How exactly are you planning on wording this helpful email? "Hey Snooks, I might have an offer in July, so start reading now" That's not going to get the response you think it is. I'm going to write you off as a crackpot. This is Not What You Want.

An offer is just that: an offer. It includes the words "I want to represent you." Recently for a new client of mine it also included "you're crazy to sign with me but I love your novel beyond reason."

Anything else is Not An Offer. Thus, you do not email the agents reading your book to tell them about it.

You're deluding yourself that we're so busy a week's turnaround time on a novel is a burden. We read stuff fast ALL THE TIME.  The reason we're not reading your novel the day we get it is cause we prioritize.

IF you have an offer, your priority level changes.

IF you email me with something other than an offer, your priority level also changes. Just not in the same direction.

I understand this is absolute agony for you, and that agent has put you in a dreadful position. You're Schrodinger's client right now, and you have my sympathy.

But, hold on to the idea as tightly as you can that if one agent liked this, the chances are another one will too. And maybe this one will actually be in a position to take you on.

Get to work on your next novel. You'll need it for that two book deal.


nightsmusic said...

How exactly are you planning on wording this helpful email? "Hey Snooks, I might have an offer in July, so start reading now" That's not going to get the response you think it is. I'm going to write you off as a crackpot. This is Not What You Want.

This! Right here. Not trying to be harsh, but why would you want to kill your chances? Because I'm with Janet. Were I an agent and received an email saying the above, I might just toss your stuff in the deleted bin and leave it at that. No one wants to be told to hurry up. And nothing is written in stone with this particular agent. I'm not trying to be morose, but what if said agent became so sick, they could no longer work. Then where have you left yourself? Off the list of those others who have requested from you. Give the agents a chance to peruse your work. Maybe you'll get two or three offers! But you won't know if you send them an ultimatum. And that's what it would come across as.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I feel for OP. I just finished my Synopsis about five minutes ago and I am really ready to start my journey into the trenches. If I got an email like this it would make me feel awesome.

I think that to achieve happiness you must see the good and the bad as a single entity. One cannot exist without the other. If it did how would you differentiate between the two. Good cannot exist without an admixture of bad. But its up to us to shrug off the bad and focus on the good.

You got a reply from an agent that wasn't no,no thank you, or silence. That is awesome. And not only that, you got a glowing review. I would take Janet's words to heart here: "But, hold on to the idea as tightly as you can that if one agent liked this, the chances are another one will too. And maybe this one will actually be in a position to take you on."

I wish you the best in your journey and may harmony find you.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Opie, what a wonderful affirmation of your story and your writing skills. Save it and file it. Mark July as the date to re-query her. Then keep on querying as you have been. And take courage. As Janet wrote, hold onto the idea as tightly as you can... One agent liked this story. Another one will too. What an exciting rollercoaster time for you!

Colin Smith said...

I echo Lisa's congrats, Opie. Clearly you have a winning query and novel, and there are bound to be other agents who agree. Clearly this agent didn't feel like she could take you on right now, but didn't want to discourage you with a simple form rejection. She believes you ought to be represented, and this novel deserves to be published--she just can't help you right now. And if you find other representation before July, she'll be sighing and lamenting the one that got away, if only she hadn't been swamped. Treat this as the nicest rejection you could ever hope to get and keep going.

All the best to you!! :D

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Patience, OP. This is a good thing. Don't let your anxiety to get across the finish line turn it into a bad thing. You have other fulls and partials out there. Do not panic and follow the shark's guidance.

This is a good place to be. Keep going. The call will come.

LynnRodz said...

Ditto what everyone said above. Sorry, but have to run.

Donnaeve said...

Who wouldn't want to hear the word "adore" in the same sentence with one's work? That right there is affirmation. Congrats on that, OP.

It's true, when you hear feedback like that, it's hard to swallow a chill pill. The goal was SO close. It's human nature to want to get/have what you want quicker - if you could just give a persuasive little shove. QOTKU is right. It would come across the wrong way.

This is just the beginning, OP. One of the hardest things for me to learn was about waiting. I was used to a fast paced/very responsive atmosphere within a big corporate environment. Where emails were answered in seconds, maybe minutes, but definitely by EOD. To wait for...weeks - no, wait, for months? I remember thinking in the beginning, what the hell are these people doing??? Ha. I know so much more now, than my naive little self knew back then.

Bask in that positive feedback and have confidence someone else is going to "adore" your work too. It will happen. Later than sooner, but it will.

DLM said...

My heart certainly goes out to OP, but possibly even moreso to the agent, who sounds like she is up against some fairly serious issues. She must be going through this with several folks/books, too - and risking missing out - because of this crisis. How dreadful; and for an agent who's passionate about their work, it has to be truly dismaying.

Still, unless Sick Agent was The ONLY One for OP, the only agent they ever loved, the situation here is kind of great. You've seen your work is viable! SA may not be the only one to respond so strongly! It's Friday, and it's spring time!

Though I may digress. Allow me to focus on CONGRATULATIONS for OP, whose work is inspiring others!

(Donna, we're all just *waiting* to adore your work!)

Celia Reaves said...

Schrodinger's client indeed. To those of us who haven't yet gotten any reply from any agent (perhaps because, like me, they're not even at the query stage yet) this seems like heaven, but it's got to feel like hell. There's only one thing to do, and that's to take advice from JR (of course), including the subheader from weeks ago: Query widely and prosper, friend.

And speaking of the agent search, I was late getting to yesterday's comments so let me reply here to something I read there: Jenny C! Congratulations!!!

Donnaeve said...

Awww, thank you, Diane...!

What a nice segue, actually. Yesterday, I wanted Jenny C and Panda Anne to have their moment. Today, I'll share this with ya'll.

Anyone have bad eyesight? Anyone prefer books in that large print? Great! THE EDUCATION OF DIXIE DUPREE had a Large Print Rights Sale yesterday. The publisher is Center Point. Yay!

Celia Reaves said...

Donnna - another yay! I love celebrating the success of folks here in the Reef. Well done!

Kregger said...

I've also heard this from beta readers.
It's an excuse. A polite one, nonetheless.
I hope this agent is being truthful. That would be great.
But it could be like when there is an xbox box listed on Ebay for $500.00
It's just a box, folks, and a version of the three classic lines.
As writers we deal with rejection, it's part of the job.
As agents they have to give rejections. I can't imagine that is easy either, until the emotion is stripped out.
Good advice as always. Keep writing, keep querying until you get an xbox...uh, I mean an offer.
By the way, I just received a very nice rejection from the gals at RO Literary.I am constantly amazed at the responses I have received from my queries.Good people out there, all trying to do a tough job.

Brigid said...

Oh, OP, that's hard. Cling to the good, and when you nudge this agent in July (if you haven't found representation before then), you can honestly tell them that you've been thinking of them and hoping they're well.

A friend at a niche publishing company asked me to read a novel and give a thumbs up/thumbs down. Not a full review or critique, just "Do you want to see more like this?" There are few novels written about this sphere, and I'd like to write some someday. I'm at 25% and so far, I'd love to see more like this, but this book's writing style is driving me nuts. First person, lots of rumination, slightly self-conscious/dated voice.

How do I respond? "I love the idea and want to see more like it but could it please be completely rewritten?" ...Also, the book may be by someone I know, unless our niche has two (say) Felicia Buttons in it.

Sherry Howard said...

This OP, and the agent involved, really made the gray matter twirl this morning. It seems that the agent meant well, but created a bit of artificial hope for the OP. Artificial hope is the gunpowder that builds inside writers until it implodes. Don't let artificial hope drive your writing path, but follow realistic paths that get you *there* with the least detours.

Craig F said...

I'll go back to a fishing analogy I used a week or so ago. The one someone said was inappropriate.

When fishing mid or deep waters many fish will adore what you are offering. They will bang it around and sometimes even grab it and run with it. That does not mean you have caught it. You can not count it as a fish until it is in your boat.

It is the same as people sucking up to your work. You have nothing but an ego boost until you have landed it.

Donna: Have you sent the queen some copies of your ARC to contemplate a flash fiction contest with yet?

BJ Muntain said...

OP: No matter how much she loved it, it's still a rejection. A kind rejection, possibly a temporary rejection, but still a rejection. I'm sorry. I know it's very exciting for you, and frustrating.

I had feedback on a query recently (an agent had a small event where, if you queried during a specific time, you'd get feedback) and he said some nice things. That made me feel better about my query, even though he said the book wasn't for him.

So take this as a positive - someone in the publishing industry loved your book! And keep querying - think how this agent will feel when you find an agent able to take you on. Probably happy for you.

Brigid: My response would be: I love the idea, but I do think this needs some work. I would read another like this IF it was [fill in the blank].

Julie Weathers said...

OP, congratulations. This is an affirmation that an agent really likes your work and that's a big deal. Keep sending out and collect other agents who love it. Fortunately or unfortunately, July will be here before your know it. Janet is right, until you have a firm offer, you have nothing more than a smoke signal.

I received two more rejections on Far Rider last week. I'd already written them off as no response means no reply, but the rejections were kind of like listening to someone drive two more nails in my coffin. I thought, "All right, I get the message. I can't write. Leave me alone and bury me already. You already drove the iron through my heart and ankles and sprinkled rose petals over the coffin to make sure I don't rise again."

So, I drank some sweet tea, cleaned out a cabinet, and read a book. Then I started writing. Revenants write.

You're going to get messages of hope and those damnable rejections, but through it all you must keep writing. That is the only constant and it's the only thing you have control over. Good luck.

Donnaeve said...

Craig, I want to send her First Edition prints. With whisky. And colorful pens. Maybe even a couple cans of Razzle Dazzle. Whatever.

Seriously, I thought the First Editions would be nicer (french flaps, wheeeee!) Don't get me wrong, the ARCs are great, but the cover is a different texture/material and they're uncorrected proofs.

That was my thought.

John Frain said...

I was waiting for someone else to ask this, but someone tapped me on the shoulder so I'll step up to the mic about this part of your reply...

"Recently for a new client of mine it also included 'you're crazy to sign with me but I love your novel beyond reason.'"

So, this person, who (spoiler alert)apparently turns out to be crazy because you call them a new client so they must have signed.

Are they crazy because:
a) they arrived pantsless bearing whisky
b) they don't write in a genre you traditionally represent
c) you're actually the crazy one and what were they thinking
d) all of the above

A friend wanted me to ask, by the way. Did I mention that already?

Julie Weathers said...


In the south we embrace crazy. We dress it up, take it out for walks, and offer it sweet tea. Life is too danged short to be constrained with sanity.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

John, what Julie said so much more eloquently than I could. I don't think writer, agent, and sanity mix well. Crazy is an essential ingredient in this business.

By the way, John, how are those shark bites healing? ;)

John Frain said...

All this time I just had to move south and people would accept me and offer me sweet tea.

That's crazy.

Colin Smith said...

John: Crazier than a raccoon that's fit to be hog tied, y'all, darn tootin' yeehaw as we say down here! :D

I've picked up the accent quite well, don't you think? Want to hear my Australian accent...? ;)

BJ Muntain said...

Colin: Cheerio!

Lennon Faris said...

Schrodinger's client... you mean OP is neither dead nor alive as a client? That would mean OP is a ZOMBIE CLIENT??

Just when I thought this blog couldn't get any more crazy...

John Frain said...

Aussie away, Colin, just don't do it in italics! Hey, how'd that happen? Some bloke is messing with me.

Colin Smith said...

Gees, John, I don't wanna insult me mates from Down Under, do I? They'd throw me on the barbie and make Vegemite out of me! ;)

Janet Reid said...

John Frain: (b)

John Frain said...

So that client is:

a) crazy
b) smart
c) fortunate
d) all of the above

I won't need you to provide the answer to that one.

CynthiaMc said...

We show it off on the front porch too.

Janet Reid said...

John Frain: (e) a brilliant writer. (no kidding)

Donnaeve said...

With La Sharque flipping her fins out of the water to reply in the comments with her enticing little snippets of info, I can't wait to find out - to use John F's formula:

a) Who queried her with a ms she doesn't rep
b) To hear about The Query (must a been a helluva good one)
c) Who the writer is

And we won't know till the book sells. Dang.

Donnaeve said...

Oh! and:

(d)If the ms came from the slush pile

Craig F said...

Donna: as long as you sign them I guess it will be okay.

In truth it is your book so the decisions are all yours. Congratulations again.

A further truth is that when friends show off their treasured tomes I have never seen an ARC as a treasured volume.

The only ones of us who will bitch about the first editions are those who don't win one.

Megan V said...

Belated congrats to Jenny C and Congrats to Donnaeve!

Golly there's been a lot of good news lately. Keep it coming Reiders!

nightsmusic said...

Craig, I have a very treasured ARC of a Pendergast. Very treasured. So there are a small few of us out there though not many, I agree.

Lennon Faris said...

Verrrrry interesting conversation.

And all this talk of sweet tea is making me want it so bad.

Brigid said...

BJ: Thank you, I ended up using that script almost exactly.

BJ Muntain said...

Brigid: You're welcome. I'm happy I could help. :)

Lennon: I just drank a gallon of the stuff. Of course, we call it iced tea here. :)

AJ Blythe said...

What? And spoil the vegemite? Nope, we'd just feed you to the drop bears.

Kae Ridwyn said...

I'm with AJ on this one, Colin. Vegemite is sacred down here.
And please no with the accent! No one can pull off an Aussie accent.
No one.

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

Hmmm.... Her Sharkness has a new client in a genre she doesn't normally represent. Recently the WIR was derailed by Rae Carson.

Could it be Her Sharkness is developing a taste for soft Fantasy? (Oh, be still my beating heart!)

However, it's all about the voice. (Remember how Janice Joplin used to sing with a 'whiskey voice'? How would that translate to writing?)

Am curious now about the new client's book, and I'm sure we'll learn who and what in time. Meanwhile, am tempted to rewrite "Let Sleeping Gods Lie" with all the lessons I've learned from the Flash Fiction contests just so I could pitch it to her. However, that would be at least 6-9 months down the track. Two other books are ahead of LSGL in the queue.

roadkills-r-us said...

So congratulations to everyone deserving congratulations, such as Donna and the Mystery Signee.

And to my godson and his beautiful bride, whom I was honored to bring together in marriage today.

Now, back to writing Number Two and going through my notes on marketing Number One. (No, it's not a _Get Smart_ series. Although I like that idea, too.)

BTW, this blog and your responses are as crucial a part of my day as Bloom County. You're all awesome and loved.

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

Yay for weddings!