Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Maintaining Enthusiam

I posted recently about being enthusiastic for a project and then waiting months to finally get the requested materials in “Bummer,” posted August 22. A reader asked:

But . . . and it's a big but here . . . if she had gotten it back into you after working like crazy to submit, how long would you have kept your enthusiasm between asking and receiving? I mean, wow, am I running in circles on this. But how long does it normally take for a full to make it back to you?

That’s an interesting question. To be on the safe side, I guess I would assume that an agent’s enthusiasm will last no longer than the time it takes for the post office to get her letter to you and your manuscript to her. In truth, however, my enthusiasm has been known to wane hours after sending the letter of request or last for months—even after the full manuscript has been requested, read, and sometimes even rejected. And, if it’s a project I decide to offer representation on, one of my criteria is that I know it’s a project I will continue to be enthusiastic about even years after it’s been published. In this case I am still on the search for a similar idea. I really, really loved this.

Since I try to be very particular about what I request, especially since I don’t have time to even read a query letter, I usually need to feel very enthusiastic to even get to that point, but once I do, look out. I will be watching the mail more closely than normal, looking for your name and preparing to drop everything the minute the manuscript arrives. This is why I stress the importance of having that book ready to go (and feeling confident that you are done editing and revising and hopefully already working on the next book). Let’s face it, while we all know that this job takes a lot of skill, creativity, and hard work, we also know that luck is involved and grabbing that agent at a time when she is excited about your idea and looking for just the thing you have is luck, and something you certainly don’t want to miss out on.



Unknown said...

thanks!! I'd been wondering, since I was in the situation of having to rework something they wanted fixed in the partial before sending the full out--okay, back to work. :)

Anonymous said...

So if a writer doesn't receive a request for more material or an offer if they sent in a full manuscript, fairly quickly after they submitted, does that mean the agent in question probably isn't interested? I understand your agency gives a 10 to 12 week reponse time, but some agencies do not give a time table at all. And does your agency respond back faster if they're interested?

Unknown said...

hmmm, anonymous has a good point. Does that mean if you wanted to read a full and it arrives, does it get a quick read, or is there a teetering stack of "fulls", just like partials and queries? Thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

"Don't have time to even read a query letter?" Pardon me. I know you're busy with your already established clients, but if you don't have time to read a query letter how in the world do you stay in business as an agent? And why not just say "not accepting new clients". I don't get agents and why they are always so busy. Shouldn't part of their busy obligations be to read query letters?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica - a question I'd really like answered on your blog, if possible, is this;

If you read a partial and like it and so request the full - how long does usually then take to read the full? (or does that depend on your level of enthusiasm) Do you (and editors) read a full manuscript all in one go (ie, one at a time) or do you usually have several on the go at once?

Caroline said...

The concept of 'luck' and timing appeals to me and gives me hope.
I read a blog yesterday that said that if you were rejected, then you had to conclude that your work was unpublishable. Nothing is ever so clear cut ...
'Grabbing at the right time'... I like this AND it makes sense.
Fingers crossed for me and thanks.

Unknown said...

hey caroline, the thing about blogs is that anything goes. Rejected is unpublishable? Only quitters think that. You've got to keep trying. I don't believe in luck. I believe in hard work and seizing opportunity.

Anonymous said...

As a corollary to this -- if you offer a writer representation, how long is your offer good for?

If it takes a long time for him to get back, and you "somehow" learn the manuscript is making the rounds among your friends/competitors, what do you do?

And if he comes back to you, do you still have that enthusiasm?