Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The sounds of silence

An agent asked for my full manuscript 3 months ago (June) after asking for my first 50 pages in February, nearly a full year after the agency received my initial query. 
While I can appreciate that agents have a long line (and a busy job!), I've had time to write a sequel to that book in the time it has taken to query and educate myself further on the publishing industry, marketing, etc..  I nudged politely just to make sure  the full didn't get eaten by a spam filter but have had no response to the nudge after more than a week and a half.
That said, after many beta reader reviews, positive comments, and consulting with a respected literary agent in May who thought self-publishing could be a successful path forward for these books, I'm strongly considering self-publishing.  I am concerned by the lack of response of the literary agent and have used the time waiting for her response to create a business and marketing plan to make sure I don't lose my shirt on self-publishing.  I'd love to chat with the literary agent if she believes my series has potential in world of traditional publishing but I'm getting nothing except for radio silence.
What should I do?  I don't want her to think I'm impatient by checking in but no answer to my emails leaves me without even the ability to have a conversation about what might be best for my books and I don't want to keep waiting if the world of traditional publishing isn't the right fit.

Let me give you some perspective here:

Oldest requested full in my queue as of the day I write this: 
Queried on 5/15/15. 
Full received 5/15/15.
Notes sent to author 9/29/15. 
REVISED ms sent back to me: 5/9/16

Depending on how you count I've had it for three months or more than a year.

The manuscript that has waited the longest with NO notes, o revisions requests has been here since 11/9/15.
Just under a year.

I have 26 requested fulls from non-clients.  Here's some data on them:

JReid requested fulls as of 9/26/16

The first thing you can see is that I've got a lot of projects here that are much older than 90 days after initial request. Sure, some of that is due to writers sending revisions, but most of it is I just haven't gotten a block of time to read their work yet.

So, you ARE impatient, at least on my calendar. Your calendar and mine are probably not in sync though, which is one thing to remember.

The second thing to remember is you're NOT getting any kind of assessment about what is best for your books or whether your series has potential. The ONLY thing you're going to know is whether she wants to rep the project or not.  I don't take on things that go on to find good homes and very happy readers.

Third, you're NOT going to get a chance "to chat" with this agent most likely. I have actual clients I've never spoken to on the phone, and most writers who get a pass on their full get it by email.  I'll answer some questions about the book if they have some, but I don't get into any kind of assessing or analysis with them.

Fourth, you're putting all your eggs in one basket here. Why aren't you querying other agents? Why aren't you querying other projects?

The worst thing you can do for your career is wait around doing nothing.  For starters it will make you nutso (to wit, your email here to me) and for finishers it will NOT move you forward.

Self-publishing is certainly a way to get your books in front of readers much more quickly than the traditional publishing route.  I've heard there are authors making tidy sums via self-publishing. Indeed, it might be the right route for you.  What I know about self-publishing comes only from the authors who write to me after they've done that, usually somewhat woefully, and mostly saying "it was a whole lot harder than I thought it would be."

So, to answer your question: this agent isn't anywhere near overdue on responding to you.  If you think she is, and you know this kind of lag time will make you crazy, that's information you should factor in to your decision about how to proceed.      


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

If you want quick results buy instant coffee.

It’s funny that in this era of instant communication the angst of writer-waiting hasn’t changed. Mentioned here many times is the glacial pace of traditional publishing. It just is what it is.

BTW we all know what instant coffee takes like. Because no one perks anymore, at least let it drip.

MA Hudson said...

A friend of mine self-published his high-concept thriller because he thought the publishing industry moved too slowly. I tried to dissuade him because his book was amazing. However, he had a brilliant marketing plan and knew all sorts of high profile people, so I backed off and crossed my fingers hoping his book would be a breakout success.


I mean, I bought his book ... and most of his friends and family bought one... but that's about it. All that hard work has just dissipated like the gas out of a shiny balloon. Such a shame.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

"Why aren't you querying more projects"

Respectfully, don't you say to only query one book at once?

Publishing feels agonizingly slow, be it queries or short stories. Not quite geologically slow; maybe glacially slow? It's very large and it moves just quickly enough to be more alarming and anxiety inducing the longer you watch it.

Sam Hawke said...

My feeling is that if you can't readjust your perspective to get used to 'publishing time' (a languid, viscous form of time which trickles impossibly slowly except for the last few weeks before a deadline, when it inexplicably turns to mercury-like agility) then traditional publishing probably isn't going to be for you. 3 months is nothing to read a full. A week and a half is nothing to reply to a non-urgent follow up email. A year of querying really isn't outrageous, in the scheme of things. It might be frustrating but it's not personal and it's how things roll.

The good news is you still have plenty of time to get used to this. Query more people, make spreadsheets if you're so inclined, haunt the response-time graphs on Query Tracker if it makes you feel more in control. Breathe. Celebrate small victories (and big ones).

Or, self-publish if that all strikes you as too much. :)

Lisa Bodenheim said...

Opie, that's wonderful that you have another novel ready to go. And how great that you have some marketing plans for your series.

However, even if an agent has your full, you still query that novel with other agent. Unless, of course, you have agreed that she could have exclusive viewing until she decides? Hopefully you've been at in Reiderland long enough that you know not to do that. (I am remembering correctly, right?)

Colin Smith said...

Am I completely loopy? Wait--that wasn't the complete sentence. Don't answer yet! Am I completely loopy, OR is it true that the glacial pace of publishing picks up after the first published novel? After all, that 1+ year gap between revisions could well be the time it takes to write and publish novel #2. In other words, things move slowly at the querying/selling phase, but once you are established, you can find yourself quite busy, and things chug along at a respectable speed.

Okay, so I'm loopy. :D

Donnaeve said...

I have learned a lot out here. It was confirmed this morning when, as I read OP's email to QOTKU, I had an inner dialogue going on in my head that was repeated almost verbatim by QOTKU herself in her response.

I thought, "you ARE impatient." And then, "why is OP only talking about one agent? Aren't they querying more than one?" And then, "if OP is already impatient with this enough to consider self-publishing, traditional publishing is going to drive them crazy." (QOTKU's term - nutso.)

I was (almost) chuckling at the idea of OP believing s/he would get to "chat" with this agent which QOTKU points out is highly unlikely. Look, for a LONG TIME, the only chat I had with my agent was his offer of representation, and a phone call three weeks into the first submission to tell me to hang in there. After that? He didn't call me and rarely emailed. There would be acknowledgement of receipt of a new ms, and then weeks - sometimes months - of silence while I waited for him to read it. I had no book sale. I was lower priority on his to do list. It didn't bother me - but if it's going to bother you, as QOTKU said, you need to factor that into a decision.

Colin Smith said...

Jennifer: I guess Opie could go ahead and query agents who rejected the first novel with the second (assuming they are not #1 and #2 of a series). Opie should certainly not stop querying. An offer of rep from another agent might get his ms pushed up this agent's schedule--or at least force a decision.

Donnaeve said...

Oooh, oooh, me, me! Pick me to answer Colin's question!

YES! :)

But, no, not really Colin - you are not loopy in those thoughts at all. It does pick up. My agent said, (I'm likely repeating this yet again) "You have your whole life to write your first book, and only about a year to write your second."

So, does pick up. It's the idea of knowing deadlines. Knowing a deadline somehow attaches the idea of WARP SPEED to all writing.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Congratulations on getting a full request. That's brilliant. Last spring, maybe winter, i got a pass on a full request that had been out for over a year. The agent had decided to focus on non-fiction. Publishing is a long game.

Definitely, if you are not, query widely and often. As far as self-publishing, you are going from a competition pool of maybe a few thousand published books a year with a whole industry pushing for it to succeed, to competition of over a million books a year, most that would do just as well printed at kinko's and distributed to friends and family. Yes, there are successful self-published books but my impression is the odds of getting there are akin to lottery odds. Anyhow, it is up to you, but a full request through traditional channels is more than a nibble. Maybe shop it around some more.

Susan said...

As someone who just last week self-published her second book, I can speak to this (hooray! Something I know a little about!).

The important thing to remember is that self-publishing is another path to a writing career: it's not a quick fix and it's not a substitute for traditional publishing. It's a choice, and one that should be made with your long-term goals in mind. I queried my novel for a year and received a lot of positive responses (but ultimate rejections), and I could have kept going, but publishing this particular book traditionally never sat well with me. I knew there was a market for it, and I wasn't willing to wait to have it out in the world (to be clear--it took me six months even to self-publish it). Because this book is so, so personal, I wanted to be in complete creative control. Am I happy I did it this way? Absolutely. Thrilled, even. Self-publishing (I call it indie publishing because I hire out for some services and have my own business for it) works for me. It works for my goals. And, quite frankly, it gives me a sense of purpose that I love so much.

To be clear, it's not for everyone. You have to be your own Creative Director and wear a dozen different hats. The response can thrill you or discourage you. There can be a lot of financial gain or sales can trickle in. The product you create and put forth is up to you (though if you have a support system behind you, all the better--I know I relied on writing friends a lot for their creative input). The responsibility--and the rewards--rests on your shoulders.

If that doesn't excite you (I'm starting to doubt my sanity because it thrills me) and you only want to write and leave the rest up to someone else, it might not be the best fit for you. Don't choose self-publishing only because you're discouraged. If traditional publishing is what you want for these books, keep fighting for it--keep querying. But evaluate your goals and see which path will better help you meet them. Because the beauty of writing today is that there's more than one path to follow.

nightsmusic said...

2NN's: I'll have you know that I have a glass Corning coffee pot, with the glass basket (which is the first thing to break on them) and the glass stem (which is the second) that I leisurely perk my coffee in on the weekends. :)

What I'm seeing is the instant gratification that has become so predominant in the modern, electronic age. When you can text someone and get a response in under a minute whereas hand writing an actual letter and using 'snail mail' could take a week or more, it all correlates to how quickly people now expect a response. I think we're raising generations of people who have no patience.

OP, while I feel for you, yours is not the only MS this agent has to peruse, I'm sure. While Agent tries to read your requested, Agent is also fielding constantly incoming queries, current client requests, publishing contracts for current clients, queries of her own to publishers for clients she has accepted that are not know how long it takes to read a book. REALLY read it. Not just to skim it, but to dissect it. Multiply that by a conservative number of 30 Agent probably has in the full requests box and add in all the other things Agent does and oh, add living into the equation as well and...well, I hope you get my point.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Hey nightmusic, I used to sell Corning stuff. Nothing like coffee perked in glass. I'm a big dripper now.

Kitty said...

It doesn’t help that movies, and sometimes novels, are filled with examples of quick’n’easy manuscript sales. The 1988 movie Funny Farm, with Chevy Chase and Madolyn Smith as his wife, comes to mind. CC plays a sports writer in NYC who quit his job and moved to Vermont. He’s hoping the peace and quiet will give him the opportunity to write the Great American Novel. But, of course, that doesn’t happen. While CC is trying to assimilate into country living with country folk, his wife, Madolyn Smith, actually writes a book…a children’s book.

Mrs: Look.
Mr: A check for $5,000 made out to you?
MRS: Isn't it wonderful? I sold a book.
Mr: What book?
Mrs: A book I wrote. Five thousand, is that much for a first book?
Mr: When did you write a book?
Mrs: Well, at odd times. You know, a little bit here, a little bit there. I wrote it out longhand on legal pads. Then I Federal Expressed it to an address I found in your magazine. And then today when I collected the mail, there was an envelope...and in it was a contract, a check...and a typed version of my manuscript.

nightsmusic said...

2NN's! YAY Corning! I love my pot! (coffee, tyvm!) It's been in my family since the 10 cup was first introduced back in the 30's. It was my aunts. I also have a set of opal mixing bowls that were my mother's. :)

And...back to our regularly scheduled programming...

Kitty said...

nightmusic I live in the Corning area. I'll drop in on the "company store" to see if they still carry the replacement parts. I checked their website and couldn't find them. I know that those replacement parts aren’t cheap.

RachelErin said...

One piece of advice I've heard for writers of series is to outline the next book (or even two) while you query #1, but write something else to completion. The reason being that books 2 and up aren't going to sell if #1 doesn't, so it's better to put most of your time into a new project. (Pretty sure I read that on Rachelle Gardner's blog).

It makes sense to me. I've been outlining 2 and 3 as I edit #1 (b/c inspiration for what happens next keeps popping up), and I'll refine those while I query, but I have one or two new projects I am DYING to start.

Also, to Jennifer's question above, I remember reading that you are only supposed to query one book per query letter, but it's fine to query multiple projects in different letters. It's just recommended to space them out by several months, or the agents might assume you wrote your novel in a weekend. Some writers will put three or four different books in one query letter, and that's a no-no.

Especially with so many NORMANs, it would be crazy to wait until everyone had responded to your first query, before you tried again (assuming you have another, even better book to send out).

JulieWeathers said...


Number one: You shouldn't be focused on one agent. At one time I had eight fulls out on Far Rider my fantasy. How could I miss, right? With the last agent, I finally got some detailed remarks that explained what he thought I should do. It will involve a major rewrite, but I think his ideas have merit. One agent had it for nearly a year and another had it for nine months.

Once you let that arrow fly, you can't think about it again. You have to nock the next one. You need to be querying widely.

Number two: I'm going to guess the reason the respected agent said self publishing might be a viable route is because you asked him or her about self publishing. No agent is going to knock it. I have some friends who self publish, none do very well. One who lambasted agents and traditional publishing to hell and back and self published has now decided she wants an agents for her series. She's made a little money and has a few devoted fans, but not nearly enough to entice an agent to take on previously published books.

The ONLY person I know who did well with self publishing was Zach Recht who published his Plague Of The Dead book in serial form on his blog. It was causing such a stir in the horror community Permuted Press picked it up. There it broke all their records and Simon and Schuster bought out their rights.

That's like getting struck by lightning or having a movie producer walk into a soda shop and discover you.

Number Three: I'm astounded you cranked out the sequel in three months. Holy moly. Note conversation in number two. Numerous requests, but no offer. I wouldn't be writing sequels, but if you write that quickly, I don't suppose you've lost much. I would start writing something else, though.

Having said that, I have about 30,000 words done on a sequel to Far Rider, but it's because I'd see scenes and write them or pulled things out that fit later in the story. It wasn't a conscious effort.

You should be writing something different, however. There's no guarantee you'll sell the first book.

That being said, congratulations. Getting a request for a full is a big deal. It's confirmation one professional thinks your writing is good. Hang on to that.

Now, charge forth. No one ever won a joust standing at the end of the list.

nightsmusic said...

Kitty: No, they're not! And you hardly ever find the basket at all. The pot I have has the clear acrylic handle on it and I lied, it's 9 cups but actually makes 10 if you fill it to the basket bottom. I cherish it and won't let anyone touch it but me. But if you ever find any replacements at a less expensive cost, I'd love to know!

Kitty said...

nightmusic I'll try to check the store today and post an answer here for you. What you have are probably collector's items by now.

nightsmusic said...

kitty It is. I've seen them on eBay for $200 or more, but it makes the most fabulous, smooth, rich, tasty cup of coffee. Don't go out of your way! But next time you're by there, if you remember to look, that would be wonderful. Mine is still all original, but I may now have jinxed myself saying that.

JulieWeathers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JulieWeathers said...

Rachel "It makes sense to me. I've been outlining 2 and 3 as I edit #1 (b/c inspiration for what happens next keeps popping up), and I'll refine those while I query, but I have one or two new projects I am DYING to start."

Agreed. I sort of know what will happen in FR II and I know how The Rain Crow series will end. I think. Stuff happens. Then again, once I start writing, all bets are off. New characters pop up. Old characters do unexpected things and say, "Follow me!". I just scramble along through the mud and the blood and try to write it all down like any good war correspondent.

I couldn't outline properly to save my life.

Colin Yes, things do pick up after you're published. Agents and publishers will have expectations about when your next books are due if you have a contract for a series. One agent stated in an interview he didn't have time to mess with people who couldn't turn out a book a year, series or not. I'm sure most agents aren't that demanding, but when you make money, they make money, so they'd like you to make money.

All this talk about coffee pots. My aunt had an aluminum drip-o-lator she used on the wood stove at the old place. I'd wake up mad to the smell of fresh coffee brewing and homemade bread toasting on the top of the stove. That's one handy thing about wood stoves, you can lay out as many slices of bread as you want at one time and toast them all. I'd be mad because once again she didn't wake me up to go help milk cows. With eighty cows to milk by hand, I'm sure they really wanted me under foot.

Anyway, the coffee pot went from the old place to the new that had electricity. Even after someone gave her an electric coffee pot for a wedding present years later, she kept using it. I would have loved to have had it, but I'm sure it wound up at the dump.

Now I need coffee.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: Stephen King can crank out a novel in 3 months. He wrote one in a week one time. But he's Stephen King. :)

A bit OT: Some of you might have seen the Twitter thread from Whitley Abell yesterday where she talked about the financial realities of being a literary agent. It seems she's had people (writers, mainly) wonder why a literary agent would take a second job. Wouldn't that impact their dedication to their clients, and, anyway, why would they want to do something other than read all day?! Her response to this was quite eye-opening. She says a lot of literary agents don't draw a salary. In fact, they don't earn a penny until their clients do. This means, they have to take other jobs (maybe freelance editing, or even a 9-5 job) to pay the bills so they can do what they love until their client list (and client output) enables them to agent full-time. Sound familiar? :) I'm sure this is not news to a lot of you, but it never really dawned on me that this would be true for many agents.

Melanie Sue Bowles said...

There is a 3rd option, beyond self-publishing or being represented by an agent, and that is querying a respected traditional publisher who accepts un-agented writers. I chose that route with my first book. The publisher phoned me two weeks after receiving my query to request the full, offered me a contract shortly thereafter, we then buckled down on editing and revisions, and my book was released the following year. My next two titles were also handled in a timely manner. I recently asked to be released of my contract as I wanted to try my hand at women's fiction, which is out of their genre, but we remain in contact. I was extremely pleased with every aspect of working with this publisher.

JulieWeathers said...


Oh, I understand some writers are fast. Tawna Fenske churns out books like butter and does very well with them. Dec. 2015, Mar. 2016, June 2016, Sept. 2016, etc. The wench.

It just boggles my mind, but I'm sunk hip deep in research on stuff half the time. Tawna researches too, but hers is a bit more fun. "Honey, I'm working on this new scene. I need to see exactly how it would play out if we had sex in..."

Sigh "Work, work, work."

Don't you know that has to be an interesting marriage?

Nom de plume said...

My impression of self-publishing from conferences and other writers is that it can be misused by authors eager to see their words in print. Many seem unaware of the work and expense required to actually get the books into readers' hands. Susan gave a great overview of what it takes to self-publish. Her remarks echoed what I've heard from many others.

I would also suggest checking out Twitter #indieauthor to get an idea of the hard work that self-published authors do every single day to promote their novels.

Colin Smith said...

Julie: It could be awkward for her husband, especially if his friends read her books. "Did you guys really...? I mean, THERE?" ;)

Claire Bobrow said...

I am but a polyp on the reef, so this collective wisdom is extremely helpful.

Right off the bat I made the mistake of querying too soon, riding the wave of excitement following my first conference (where I obviously failed to heed all the great advice). Since then I've gone to more conferences, taken classes (I'm in another one now), followed blogs, gotten active on social media, joined a couple of critique groups, and am working hard on my manuscripts before I leap once more into the breach. It's good to be reminded again and again of the need to be persistent and patient. Very, very patient.

So, back to my cup of Earl Grey tea, my online course, and my manuscripts...

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Okay WAY OT but I can't resist.

Nightmusic and Kitty.

I used to work in one of Corning's Outlet Stores,(great company to work for actually).

Anyway, the replacement parts for the coffee pots and the CorningWare Teapots (which were requested each and every day) were unavailable because of liability issues and cost of manufacture or so I was told.
They stopped making the actual CorningWare around 2000 I think. It's a shame because that stuff was awesome.

BTW,I have two sets of those old (yellow, red, green and turquoise) bowls, I love them. Makes me remember my moms famous potato said.
It was the best ever.

Sorry for today's drift-factor.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

The word "said" is supposed to be salad.
I think I'll make some but it won't be as good as moms.

Janice Grinyer said...

I'm with you Claire - I made the mistake of publically announcing a certain book proposal timeline way back the beginning of this year. Dang was I ever wrong! *head hangs in shame*

Here I am, seven months later, and I have a query letter, a proposal, sample chapters, etc., and even now I need to re-edit my marketing proposal language because I just received approval from a large corporation who would be willing to market my published material to their large base of customers. They love the concept I proposed, yay! But it's not even represented yet lol.

I'm glad I haven't queried yet because that little "diamond" I just received builds up a platform, and will make a stronger proposal.

So here I am; I don't have an agent yet because I haven't queried, but I'm glad the process takes time so we can have our powerful little ducks in a row!

JulieWeathers said...


If you knew Tawna, I'm sure her friends just high five her. She's hilarious. I think her husband is perfect for her. He gave her a check for something and in the notations put something about sexual services. The teller just rolled her eyes. She knows them both so well.

Another friend who is a romance author was talking about this one day at a writer's retreat. She's kind of the shy, quiet type. So, when we're sitting around drinking and talking about something writing related she dropped, "Actually, I did research that scene in _______. I grabbed my husband and told him I needed to figure something out. You can actually have sex______, but it takes a little finagling."

I'm sure some of her friends, on the other hand, might be aghast. We totally cracked up as we have no couth.

Research is a many splendored thing.

John Davis Frain said...

Self publishing reminds me of the lottery. Most everyone has heard of Andy Weir (THE MARTIAN) and his incredible success kinda like the lottery advertises its winners. But for every Andy Weir and lottery winner, there are a million others at the opposite end of the spectrum. We just never hear of them.

Opie, you've had a request for a full. Congratulations on that, it takes a lot to get to that point. For many of us, it means you've progressed to that point and you're moving onward toward publication. But maybe not as fast as you want. Maybe it means you've improved from earlier attempts and YOUR NEXT ONE will be the one that sells. Only you can decide if self publishing is your choice or your default because the road is getting too long and hard. Take a step back and see which is correct for you.

Regardless, congratulations and good luck.

John Davis Frain said...

Julie, I love that story. Filarious! As stealing is an honored tradition in this industry, I'm going to borrow that idea. Can't wait to tell my wife my new research methodology.

She keeps telling me to switch to nonfiction. I'll tell her I weighed all the options and I'm testing Romance. Hey -- it all ends with Happily Ever After, right?

Joseph S. said...

Man walks up to a woman in a bar.

"Excuse me. I'm writer. I'm working on a sex scene but I need to do some research. Would you mind helping me?"

Colin Smith said...

On the self-pubbing thing, I get the impression that, since the indie option doesn't carry the same stigma it used to, it's more likely you are to be able to make a living as an indie author. But the same is true for trad publishing. If you go into either looking to make millions, forget it. That's the lottery. But if you're looking to pay the bills, or have some kind of supplementary income, that doesn't seem to be such a pipe dream for either trad or indie.

I speak from what I see and hear, not personal experience. Those with experience may disagree. :)

E.M. Goldsmith said...

Looking forward to seeing how this research technique described by Julie works out for some of the bolder Reiders. I wonder how it translates in Carkoon.

Colin Smith said...

Joseph: A man walks into a bar, and no-one helps him up.

Literalist humor. :)

Janice Grinyer said...

Joseph - A man walks into the ER. "Excuse me, but you could please remove this wine glass from my nose?"

Beth Carpenter said...

I can sympathize. Even though I knew writers who’d been waiting even longer, I’d mutter, “How can I write an entire book faster than you can get around to reading it?”

When I’d find out the editor who had my manuscript was judging some contest, I’d feel like saying, “You may not leave this office until you’ve cleaned all unread manuscripts off your desk, young lady.”

But eventually, I got the news. And it was good news. Some things are worth the wait.

Janet Reid said...

Joseph Snoe:

Man walks up to a woman in a bar.

"Excuse me. I'm writer. I'm working on a sex scene but I need to do some research. Would you mind helping me?"


Dudewalks up to a woman in a bar.
"Excuse me. I'm a writer. I'm working on a sex but but I need to do some research. Would you mind help....."

Bartender (interrupting Dude) "Dude! Step back!  That's Gigi Hadid!"

Dude (scampers off hurriedly)

Claire Bobrow said...

A woman walks into a bar. A man says, "Hey sweetheart, I'm a writer. Wanna help me with my plot?"
"Hope I was helpful," she whispers later, patting the dirt with her shovel.

BJ Muntain said...

OP: You nudged after 3 months with a full? It doesn't matter how long they took with the query or the partial. You have to give them 6 months with a full before nudging, unless they say different on their website or in their correspondence with you.

And when I read that you're waiting on them, I thought the same as Janet - why? In the time they've had your work, you've written a sequel and a business and marketing plan. How many other queries have you sent out?

Now, if they're the only agent you're waiting on, because if they say 'no', you're going to self-publish... I don't think it's fair basing such a big decision on whether one literary agent wants to rep you or not. You need to decide self-publishing is what you want to do because self-publishing is a LOT of work. If that's what you want to do, then do it. Don't wait on a probable 'no'.

I know people who self-publish a book a month, or a book every two months, and they make some money that way. But I did hear once that the average amount of money a self-published writer makes is $200 per book. If you think that there are writers who make thousands of dollars per book, imagine how many people must be making practically nothing to make the average $200. At least, OP, you're smart enough to treat it like a business, with a business plan and marketing plan. However, you also have to treat it as a business by putting together a quality product, and knowing how the business works.

Jennifer: Janet doesn't say to query only one book at once. She says only one book per query.

Loving all the jokes, folks!

Kitty said...

nightmusic & 2Ns … I stopped at the Corning Store on my way to Wegman’s this morning. I loved having a reason to stop in as I haven’t been there for years. I spoke with an employee learned this: Corning Inc. sold their Housewares division to World Kitchen in 1999. World Kitchen changed the composition of Pyrex glass. As a result, the glass is now heat sensitive, which means you can no longer take the ‘new’ Pyrex from freezer to pre-heated oven. You can’t use Pyrex on a direct heat source, like a stove top burner or flame. You can use Pyrex in the oven, but only up to 325*. Always put a hot Pyrex dish on a trivet, not a counter or even a towel. She said a towel could have some residual moisture in it and cause the dish to break/explode. Never ever put Pyrex in water, even hot water, unless the glass is completely cooled. You can tell the newer Pyrex by a blue tint around the rim when you look at it from an angle.

You can still find the old stuff at garage sales and secondhand stores. You could contact Market Street Antiques, Collectibles and Unique Gifts and/or Twin Tiers Antiques Plaza via their Facebook pages. Both shops are right in Corning. Good luck!

It’s not your Meema’s Pyrex anymore 

Ardenwolfe said...

Sadly, things do move at a glacial pace in publishing. But I look at it this way: I also take around a year to write, edit, and polish a novel. Longer if life digs up drama. So a year is nothing.

Like Janet said, take time to write more work and query more agents.

And get used to that. If you want a successful career? That's a timetable for every new and old project.

Unless you're George R. R. Martin . . . but that's another topic.

Mary said...

One of the first things I had to learn (book #2 coming out in a year) was that agents, even once you have one, respond on a need to know basis. Months go by without me speaking to mine. I just keep writing on the next one and try to control the crazy.

Donnaeve said...

A writer walks into a bar.


A nervous writer slips into a bar.

no. erase.

A nervous, unpublished writer slips furtively into a smoky, dim bar.

Wait, wait. I can do better. erase.

A lanky, nervous, unpublished writer slips furtively into a smoky, dim bar, looking for a drink.

dammit. Sigh. No, no, no. Not quite. erase.

A lanky, nervous, unpublished writer slips furtively into a smoky, dim bar, looking to drown the memory of the book he just submitted to an agent.



*Can't take credit - read something similar somewhere - and thought it perfect!*

Susan said...

Bethany Joy: Thanks for the tip about #indieauthor. I'll have to check that out.

I just want to reiterate that authors don't go into self/indie publishing because it's a shortcut or they think it will be easier than querying in pursuit of a traditional deal. They're two distinct and different paths. I also want to point out that you can have just as much success with indie publishing as with traditional publishing--there are outliers in either direction for both pursuits. There are some indie authors who have made it big (Andy Weir, Hugh Howey, Amanda Hocking, for example) and there are those that are considered mid-list. The same goes for traditional publishing--there are those debut authors who hit it out of the park and meet with success right off the bat (I'm thinking Veronica Roth, for example), but there are just as many authors who debut at mid-list and see a trickle in sales. These authors have to keep working to build that momentum--and even those upper eschelon authors don't get there by luck. Overnight successes are just the tip of the iceberg, the result of years of work.

I just find it important to emphasis that both paths have merit, and neither path guarantees success. What you put into it is what you get out of it no matter which way you publish.

Steve Stubbs said...

I agree with Ms. Reid. When I read the OP letter the first thought that came tome was that this is a candidate for the QSA principle. QSA stands for “Query Someone Else.”

As for self-publishing, there was a comment on the net recently from an agent named Jane (not Janet) that this is a two strikes and you’re out business. You can publish a first book that goes into the tank and get another shot. But if you put two books in the tank, your career goes in the tank along with them, at least where the majors are concerned. If you self-publish a book and it sells all of three copies, you just shot your first shot. The risk is not that you lose your shirt so much as that you only get two shirts to lose. Writing on spec is a crap shoot. You want to be sure you don;t crap out or bet after the casino is closed. You also want to make sure you are shooting crap but that the product itself is not crap. You presumably have that covered with your beta readers.

The other thing I got was that people write novels on spec. Writing a sequel to a novel that did not sell yet is writing on spec and doubling down. From a risk management perspective, that makes sense if the sequel can sell on its own, but probably not if it depends on the first book selling.

So it seems from a risk management perspective you are considering maximizing your risk three different ways. Most business people will tell you as a general rule that violates the general rule. You normally want to minimize risk and not maximize it. So my guess for minimizing risk would be: QSA, do nor self-pub, and don’t write a long series of sequels when nothing has sold. That is like writing a memoir about how heart wrenching it was to write a memoir that nobody wanted to publish. Or worse yetm to write a third memoir about what a pain it was to write the first two memoirs,

BJ Muntain said...

Susan: I think you mean that authors *shouldn't* go into self/indie publishing because it's a shortcut or they think it will be easier. Many do, unfortunately. Those are the ones who usually wind up disappointed, finding out they were wrong.

Susan said...

BJ: I'll amend that to say people who look at writing as a business don't go into self/indie publishing as a shortcut. Because you're right--a lot of people will look at it as the easy path and be disappointed in the end result, but that's because they choose not to understand the publishing business as a whole. Those people are going to exist in either pursuit, though. (Those who hang out here and take the wisdom and advice from Janet are on the other end of that, to be sure ;)

BJ Muntain said...

Susan: Right. People have to see self-publishing as a business strategy, not as an 'easy out'.

I have friends who insist the only way to get noticed by a publisher these days is to self-publish. I can't convince them otherwise - but they get all their publishing news from the newspapers and television. Of course only the big surprises (or big names) are going to get noticed there.

I tell them I don't have the money or the energy to self-publish properly, but right now, I've got the patience to try to do it traditionally. They tell me, "It's easy. You just go to Amazon and..."

Sometimes, you'd think they don't believe that I've been watching the publishing industry for 20 years now, reading the inside views from agents' and publishers' websites and blogs, going to conferences to hear from industry professionals and successful self-published authors... *sigh*

Craig F said...

Back when I was a younger fool I tossed out a few queries. I learned enough to realize that I didn't know enough to query.

Now, as an older fool, I am almost ready to give it another go. I hope I can curb my enthusiasm when I hook an agent for a full.

I know that you have to have more than one line in the water if you wish to feed yourself as a writer.

I fear I might not be able to keep cool because I thought I had something bulletproof ready to go. Then I found out that it is still raining and the river rising on the more than saturated thriller market.

I already knew YA was like that and I believe Romance is also close. What might be a safe bet in a year or two?

Theresa said...

Patience and perseverance.

Those words play in an endless loop in my head and I write, revise, write, revise.......

Cheryl said...

I have a cousin who self-publishes (she also freelance edits) and one day her mother tried to convince me that I have to self-publish because the publishing houses and agents take 90% of your money.

In my case they'd be making 90% of that money too, so why shouldn't they have it? I couldn't charge ten dollars a book at first. They can. I could probably only charge enough to make me a dollar profit after all the editing, e-book creation, and cover expenses. Either way, (assuming the 90% number which I don't quite believe) I'm making a dollar. Ideally, they can sell thousands of books more than I can, which gets me thousands more dollars.

It's only the easy way out if the only thing you care about is being able to point to an Amazon or Kobo listing and say "I made a book!"

I have nothing but admiration for the people who do make it work for them.

The Sleepy One said...

John said: She keeps telling me to switch to nonfiction. I'll tell her I weighed all the options and I'm testing Romance. Hey -- it all ends with Happily Ever After, right?"

Would it be inappropriate to make a joke that romance at least has a happy ending?

OP, three months is nothing. And if you sell your novel, you'll spend a lot of time waiting, like to get your editorial notes, your cover, copyedits, reviews, and for other steps along the way. Learning to wait and use your time while waiting to work a new project is a wonderful idea.

Unknown said...

I'm late to the conversation so can't add much to the wise advice to send more queries and keep writing. But if OP is now compiling a list of additional agents to query, don't forget to include some newer, less experienced agents to the list. Some of the newbies have more time and are hungrier than the well-established agents -- that means they could get to the query or manuscript more quickly. And if they make an offer of representation, you can still go back and nudge the more experienced agents who might be looking at your project.

JulieWeathers said...


Years ago my ex, he of the cute bullrider butt, went into a 7-11 to get a gallon of milk on our way home. Now you have to understand, odd as it seems, many bullriders are fairly small men. That low center of gravity just makes for better bullriders. Don was fairly well built, but only stood about 5'7" on a tall day.

Two gals on Harleys zoomed up and walked in, and these women were Amazons. They grabbed their beer and wound up in line behind Don. One of them was looking him over and said, "Mmm mmm mmm, ain't that nice."

The other made a few comments. Don hurriedly paid and escaped with his virtue intact.

Just saying, sometimes life surprises you.

Joseph S. said...

Julie W

I once had a co-worker come in my office and ask if I would father her child. She wanted a child and didn't want to get married.

In the South, many women automatically hug men, without asking. I've been hugged by students, former students, judges, Lawyers, professors, support staff,etc . I take it in stride.

The most awkward was a woman in a group of people touring the school who grabbed me as I was walking by. I had no idea what she was thinking. I have no idea who she was.

The second strangest was a woman who came up behind me while I was eating lunch in the university CAF. She started massaging my shoulders. I had never seen this woman before (and didn't look back immediately to see who it was at the time). She said "These are Texas shoulders. I know Texas shoulders." She turned out to be a funny, interesting lady and since then I've enjoyed chatting with her (and sometimes her sisters) in the CAF on the times I see her there.

Joseph S. said...

Steve Stubbs

On sequels. I've been convinced you're right that the second book you write should not be sequel to the first unpublished book. Hurts me to the quick. I have ideas and notes for an episodic sequel to my current WIP I'm itching to develop.

I have a general concept for another series of books, too. I'll probably work on that. But right now it's just a concept without many ideas how the story will develop (I do have an idea how it begins). I have a ton of research to do.

Ardenwolfe said...

Man, Joseph, you're either a looker or hung like a solid gold credit card.

Joseph S. said...


Sadly, neither.

I'm a nice person, and many people who work with me (or who were my clients when I had clients) like me. It is flattering when (as happened once), a U.S. Representative (former student) leaves a group of people to walk across the room to hug me. But I can't explain it. I assume it happens to almost everybody in the South.

I really have few friends, and those are people at work. Mainly I spent my life going to work (and I work hard to be very good at whatever I do), coming home, and preparing for the next day's work. Kind of sad, actually.

BJ Muntain said...

Some people do fall for the Southern gentleman type. Heck, these days any gentleman is looking good.

Ardenwolfe said...

True, BJ. Very true.