Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Agent Frustrations

I know I’ve vented about this before, but it’s happened again so I get to vent again. Lucky you!

I realize I’m behind on proposals, but I’m not that behind. So I had a nonfiction proposal that was a few weeks old. I liked the idea a lot, but was unsure whether or not it was the right direction to go in, so I brought the proposal up in our weekly meeting to discuss it with others here. We discussed the proposal as it was and everyone had varying opinions. I really liked it though.

In the end I decided to pass, but sent the author some of my detailed thoughts on why I was passing. I also offered to take a look again or at other work. The response . . . she had already signed with another agent and was sorry she didn’t tell me.

Aaaaah! This lack of professionalism kills me every single time. Are you kidding me?! If you’ve sent a query that’s one thing, but a proposal? Why wouldn’t you at least have the courtesy to let me know. I know, I know. I rejected it so why do I care? I care because of all of the time I wasted. It took up about 10 to 15 minutes of time at our meeting. I know Jacky went and did some research on the book on her own after the meeting and I did a great deal on my own both before and after the meeting. Not to mention the time spent reading, emailing my detailed letter, and simply thinking about. All of that time could have been spent reading your proposals—the other proposals that I’m really behind on.

The funny thing about this is now if this person does come back to me at some point I’m really going to have to think twice. After all, the professionalism just isn’t there.

Thanks for letting me vent.

Jessica

64 comments:

December/Stacia said...

I have to confess, I did this. After I signed with my agent I notified all agents who had my materials except those I'd just queried within the last few days (it was just a query, after all).

Unfortunately, I forgot that one of those was a query + 1st three.

So when I got the request for the full a couple of months later...I felt AWFUL. Just awful. I'd wasted this lovely lady's time, I'd made myself look bad, all because I'd simply written her on my list as "query" without noting it was a query plus materials.

I replied with much apology, but she never responded. I still feel bad about it, and swear if I ever meet her I'll buy her a drink or something to make up for it.

I guess it would be different with nonfiction, or if you'd requested the materials. But please, give her a tiny break. Oversights like the one I made are awful and there's really no excuse for them (and you have every right to be upset, I don't mean at all to imply you don't), but maybe she feels as bad as I did. I literally felt sick. I still do, in fact.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a way to avoid an author's "unprofessionalism" agents could notify authors when their works are under consideration.

It would be completely unprofessional for all of us to "assume" our works are under consideration every time we submit something to agents. Afterall, reading blogs proves that this just isn't the case.

We authors realize that agents are buried under piles of queries, partials, proposals and manuscripts. And we also realize that there's a HUGE time lag between when we send stuff out and when we get a response (no thanks, nice, but not what I'm looking for, etc.).

If agents all banded together and agreed to a standard "let's notify authors when we are considering their work," they wouldn't waste their time.

It would also give the author a chance to then say, "hey, I've already signed, am under considerations elsewhere" or even "I'll hold off other agents until I hear back from you."

Communication is a two way street. And with more and more being done electronically, how difficult would it be to send a quick email to an author?

Anonymous said...

To be sure, you have a right to be upset, but there's a lot of this type of frustration on the writer's end too.

You kill yourself to complete and send requested revisions to a potential agent and she NEVER responds.

You think your book is on submissions only to find that it has been sitting on your agent's desk for two months while she "decides" where to send it next.

Recently, I waited 11 MONTHS while an editor read a ms, then took it to acquistions, and THEN, after she got back from taking a vacation and going to two writer's conferences finally decided she didn't want it after all. By then I was glad she passed, what a nightmare it would have been to work with her.

Same with your potential client -- she may just have simply overlooked contacting you, on the other hand, if that's her way of working you wouldn't have been happy with her anyway.

Anonymous said...

I recently heard an agent speak at a con, and heard a similar story. Unfortunately, this has become the norm more than the exception. Writers feel so put upon by the wait, that they lose patience with the process. They don't realize that the numbers of submissions has greatly increased due to the fact that EVERYONE thinks they can write a book. The channels are clogged by these submissions, which must be looked at.
And since electronic submissions have been accepted by some agents, it's really gotten out of hand. When writers had to prepare a paper submission and take it to the post office, and pay for it, they were a bit more circumspect in how many they threw out there. Not so with electronics. They blast every agent on every list, including all agents in one agency.
After I heard this, I actually felt sorry for agents trying to plow through the piles of work that never should have been sent in the first place.

Shaun Carney said...

I can't blame you at all for being upset about that, Jessica. Even on a query, if you send out a number of letters and end up receiving an offer, it only takes a few stamps or emails to notify the other agents that you have accepted someone else's offer. It's only a form letter and, after all, wouldn't it nice to finally send a form letter TO an agent, rather than just recieving them? :)

Shaun

Anonymous said...

I have to confess I had never really thought about this situation. I had queried several agent at the beginning of June. I had a requested full from one right away, and within a week an offer of representaion. I did tell the lovely agent had queried several others at the same time, and the very next day got a request for a partial from my dream agent. I emailed this agent and explained I had an offer that I was considering and she kindly asked for the full, and asked for a time frame to work with so that I could make my decision. It was all very professional and in the end I signed with the second offer. The first agent while dissapointed, understood and things were left very friendly....the door is left open so to speak.
As for the other agents I queried....two were R's and the others I haven't heard a word. Should I consider sending them a note? NO....If and when I hear from them, I'll be more than happy to let them know I've already signed....early bird gets the worm so to speak!

Anonymous said...

I've already commented, but I do have to agree with Anon 8:48.

As a writer you have zero way of knowing if your work is being considered at all, unless soemone tells you.

I've had editors say my ms was still "under consideration," meaning they just hadn't gotten around to reading it yet. If the ms was something you took to an agency meeting, perhaps a heads up for the author would be the way to go in the future. After all, if he's/she's pestering you for an update on a ms that may not have even been plucked up from a mail pile yet, that's considered unprofessional, too.

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though the author would have been better served (and avoided being the topic of your blog entry) by just keeping her mouth shut about signing with another agent. You'd never have known. Why not simply appreciate her honesty and view it as a reminder to always maintain contact with those authors whose work your reviewing?

Anonymous said...

I'm with Anon 8:48 and 8:51. The lack of response from agents regarding queries makes you assume after a certain point (two months?) that they are not interested.

I queried Bookends twice for two separate projects last year, the second of which ultimately did find representation. Jacky took five months to reply and the second time you took four. I did not receive an offer on the first and the second came after your rejection, so I'm not guilty of not notifying you. But honestly, if at three months I did have an offer, it wouldn't even occur to me to contact agents who had received my query three months ago.

Multiply your frustration fifty-fold and you'll begin to understand the frustration on the author's side. And it's even worse in this situation. You have a wonderful blog. You're obviously smart and connected and altogether a great agent. People WANT you. So you get bombarded and behind and we get frustrated at the slow response. Perhaps you should consider more help with queries. Sorry to be blunt but I admire you very much.

I do understand all the variables but please, at the very least if you're remotely interested, let us know! My agent, by the way, at a well respected NY firm, responded to my query in less than a week and to my full within three weeks. He recognized interest and acted on that interest quickly.

SLING WORDS aka Joan Reeves said...

Since I'm one of those mannerly types, I understand your being upset. Of course, your readers' comments spotlight how powerless writers usually feel in the agent-acquisition process. Still, I can't help but feel that if one wants to be a pro writer then one should learn what that means (some people don't have a clue) and always follow through.

Unfortunately, this is the golden age of rudeness, so, in the end, I cannot say I'm truly surprised.

Anonymous said...

I'm kind of stuck on the 'be considerate when I'm reading your stuff' question.

Let's say you sign with an agent. The agent read your stuff lightning fast to sign you. You go with this agent...

And then your stuff sits for 4 months. Your agent still hasn't read it. At what point should a new author get frustrated?

Not to shanghai the topic, but it's frustrating when there's so much stuff about querying and not a lot for 'after the relationship is established'.

Help? What does one do in this situation? The agent in question has been promising to read 'this week' and has been for months now with no results.

Cara Carnes said...

My sympathies to you and everyone else that has had this happen to you, Jessica. Breakdowns in communication, common courtesy and respect are always difficult to deal with - regardless of which side of the table you are sitting on.

I'm a firm believer in karma though:)

Jennifer McKenzie said...

This is why I don't simultaneous query/propose. I know it increases my chances and so on, but I want to make sure I'm on top of what's going on.
I'm not organized like some. I know an author who has all her queries, requests and rejections on a spreadsheet. I'm just not that good.
So, I send one query at a time. Of course, I don't have an agent yet sooooo...LOL.

Keri Ford said...

Hmm. Unless I'm really reading this notification idea thing wrong, I guess I'm the odd one out. To have an agent send notification of the status of your submission seems like a real waste of the agent's time. Sure it, takes what, 10secs to send an email to let the author know...it can also take 10secs for an agent to look a query and know if it's right for her or not.

If you submit something...it's kind of an automatic your under submission sort of thing. I mean, the reason you submitted WAS to be under consideration. The majority of the agents I've researched have a wait time listed. Some are 2 weeks, 2 months, some 6 months. It depends on how busy they are. And they also say, if you haven't heard from us under this time, please follow-up so the mishap can be straightened out.

Don't assume I've never had agents drop out on me and never respond back. I have. Even with revisions requested. It sucks. It does. What happened to Jessica sucks. What happened to December/Stacia sucks as that sounds like a slip of the mind, and goodness knows, we've all that happened. It reall is a crappy place for everyone. All we can do is learn from another's mistake so not to repeat. I believe that was kind of the point of this post. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 9:57. I'd love to see more about the author/agent relationship after signing.

Anonymous said...

If I didn't read your blog and already know you're hard-working, responsible, and well-mannered, I would probably say, "So what? Aspiring authors are treated like that all the time."

Anonymous said...

I'm going to post this one anon for obvious reasons, but I do have a question that I'd love an agent's opinion on:

I sent out a number of queries to agents that requested sample chapters and synopsis or multiple pages with the query, so obviously this takes more of their time than a one page query letter. I received a request for a full and the agent wanted an exclusive, which I of course granted.

Now, I've heard writers say they'll never grant exclusives and that they'd even lie and say the ms was under consideration elsewhere when it wasn't... I'm not a good liar and I don't particularly want to be.

I did grant the exclusive but I let the agent know I'd queried elsewhere with sample chapters... so far none of the other agents have gotten back to me either way, but I'm nervous about what to do if they do request more material.

What's the best way to handle that without burning bridges?

(on the whole agents should let you know it's under consideration - I think that's a bit excessive. When I send a query, it's a sales pitch on myself. If someone sent me a sales pitch and got irritated if I didn't contact them to let them know I was thinking about it, I'd be more than annoyed... I do think agents should at least respond to queries. It's one of those things that will make me cross them off the 'to query' list, if they never respond.)

I also would send a short email letting agents who haven't yet responded to my queries know the status if I sign with someone. I think it's only polite, and it never costs you anything to be polite...

Robena Grant said...

To have someone continuing to research and work on your submission when you've accepted representation elsewhere is rude. A total waste of time. But, maybe the person just forgot? It could happen.

I keep a record of where my writing goes, (editor submissions, contests, agencies) the date, to whom, expected time of results. But I'm exeedingly slow with putting my work out there, I usually do one at a time. I'm more of a people person and want to know everything I can about a person/company before I do business that could affect me for years to come.

If you have a partial submission in with an agent, and another one (completely different manuscript)in a contest, then you place in the contest and are asked by the agent judging the contest to submit your work, should you give the first agent a heads up? Or only if it is the same manuscript going to both agencies?

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I'm still waiting for Bookends to respond to my query which I sent over 8 weeks ago.

At this point I doubt I will get a response but I did get many requests from other agents so I'm not as distressed as I could be.

So, it's not just Agents Frustrations, it's us unknown, barely looked upon, unpublished writers frustrations also.

Keri Ford said...

Anon 12:37. There's a good chance your query never made it at all. it happens. more often than you think because of SPAM filters. From BookEnds submissions page:

BookEnds agents do reply to all submissions and queries, including e-queries, and hopes to do so in a timely manner. Our response times are traditionally 10 to 12 weeks on requested partials or fulls, 2 to 4 weeks on e-mail queries. If you haven't heard from us after that time has passed, please feel free to drop us an e-mail with the following information: which agent the submission was sent to, the date it was sent, the title, and the author name.

Don't mean to sound harsh, but read the guidelines and save yourself some frustration. My query to BookEnds plopped in the SPAM folder. Another requested submission to a different agency fell into the SPAM folder. It happens.

Jessica said...

I've been waiting for two months to hear back from five different agents. :-) It's frustrating, but not as much as what you must have felt.
Sorry about it. She could've been unprofessional or you may have just slipped through her cracks.
But sorry again!
HOpe you find a bestseller to make up for it!

Anonymous said...

Keri,

I did read the guidelines and was very aware of that possibility. That's why I followed up with them. Just in case my query was SPAMMED.

Sometimes no matter what you do, you fall through the cracks. It just happens that way.

Shaun Carney said...

I've seen some arguments here in favor of this: what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

I disagree. Just because other agents have ignored me (or my query fell through the cracks - whatever), does not mean I should be as rude as them and not let them know once I've been offered representation.

Sure, the person in Jessica's example may have forgotten to notify other agents. I can see how, once you receive the offer, you might be so excited that you forget almost everything else. But that doesn't mean anyone should advocate intentionally being rude. I hope I never have to deal wtih any of you who do.

Shaun

Anonymous said...

Waaaaa waaaaa waaaaaaa.

Why should the writers take time to inform agents of developments when it is normal for agents not to even respond? An agent is basically a parasite off other people's work. It is your job to crawl through unsolicited slush and come up with enough sustenance to make a living--all while representing current clients that actually do make money. This is your job,. The "my job sucks thing" is super-old. Get another one if you don't like it and let someone with someone enthusiasm represent my work.

In fact, "stop blogging and get back to work" is what you'd hear if it were my company. Your preaching to the same old wannabe witers' blog contingent is not garnering new clients.

Anonymous said...

Shaun 1:40 -- I don't think anyone is advocating being rude -- far from it. When in the process of querying or even after you have an agent, and you're waiting around for editor responses, the ball is entirely in the agent/editor's court.

There are so many people who simply do not respond to queries at all, or do so, literally, five months after the fact, that after a while you figure no response simply means no. I betcha five bucks the person who signed with the other agent simply didn't realize BookEnds was even considering her ms at all.

If agents/editors DON'T shoot you an email and tell you what's going on, you don't know. We're not mind readers.

This is a facinating discussion, BTW. I hope BookEnds doesn't feel bashed by the comments, but writers deal with such frustrations on a daily basis.

And Anon 2:35, if you don't like the blog why do you come here? That says more about you than it does about a post you disagree with. I'm not a wannabe writer, I'm published and agented.

Anonymous said...

I've had agents who never respond even after they request a partial.

I don't think it's reasonable for agents to expect status updates from people who are not clients. It's the writers' work, and waht they do with it is entirely up to them.

Also, a lot of writers probably assume that they would only be bothering agents with any contact, since "if you hear nothing that menas no" is the de facto standard. So....why doesn't it work both ways? If you hear nothing from me as a writer....it means no.

Elissa M said...

Anonymous 2:35

Agents are parasites? One wonders about your publishing credentials. Please crawl back under your rock.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:35 has a point to this extent: it does seem to be the norm for agents not to respond. A lot of agent websites even specifically say not to follow up on submissions by phone or email.

I'm sorry, Jessica. As much as I respect you and enjoy reading your posts, this is a situation created by the very manner you and other agents do business. If you want it to be different, then something has to change.

Anonymous said...

"In the end I decided to pass, but sent the author some of my detailed thoughts on why I was passing. I also offered to take a look again or at other work. The response . . . she had already signed with another agent and was "sorry she didn’t tell me.

Aaaaah! This lack of professionalism kills me every single time. Are you kidding me?!"

Now wait a minute here...So while this writer is sitting around waiting for you to get back to her with a no (comments or not, it's still a rejection), she was supposed to be updating you with the status of other agents? That sure is better for you, but not for the writer.

First of all, just because you're "offered a deal" doesn't mean that it's iron-clad yet. Offers can be retracted before they're signed. So it doesn't make sense from the writer's position to inform anyone that youre unavailable until you have not just been offered the deal, but sisgned the deal. You may even want to wait a couple months after that just in case you don't get dropped for contractually valid reasons, or the agency that signed you goes out of business or something. You just never know. So why cut off other avenues of representation ever? You write on until the book is published. There is no need to inform anyone of anything except those you are directly doing business with.

In fact, for tis writer he actions worked out beautifully, because not only did she get signed by an agent, but she got professional feedback froma different agent who was too slow, or did not otherwise realize the market value potential of the work, that she can now discuss with her agent. So no, this writer is not unprofessional, she's demonstrating business savvy in a competitive sphere. It's you and your words against the world. Those who are not with you are to be cast away swiftly, like a non-edible fish back into the stream for someone else to waste their time with.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for giving us wannabe authors a chance to consider your frustrations. I apologize for not sending a more personal response and truly wish I was able to give each post I read more feedback.

As I’m sure you know beating one's head against the wall is a difficult business and because of my already busy schedule I need to be very particular about what blogs I read. Ultimately, I just didn’t feel strongly enough about your post to be even minimally sympathetic at this time.

I wish you the best of luck and the greatest success.

Anonymous said...

LOL anon 4:21 that is too funny.

I basically agree with the anon 4:10. In this case, with Bookends on the fence about the project, letting them know the project was also being courted by other agencies would only increase the likelihood of a "no" from Bookends. So I agree it's in the writer's interest to say nothing re: status with other agencies.

In general it seems like the non-fiction writers are more business savvy like the one write aabout in this post, while the novelists suck up more to the agents, probably because their odds of publication are significantly longer.

I enjoy the blog, but that doesn't mean that I always agree with what the agents here say, or the way they do things.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anon 2:40.

We writers are not psychic. Once my pitch is out there with agents the ball is in their court and I have no idea at all what's going on with it--until you tell me.

So I agree with the idea of letting an author know if his or her work is up for serious consideration--as in you're really close. Do it asap for god's sakes, don't wait. What's wrong with that? Why complain about something that agents are known for doing to writers all the time? We writers are tired. We're tired of researching agents, sending out our queries, responding to requests for partials and fulls and then never ever hearing anything again.

Even after status querying on requested fulls, I've heard zero back. In fact, I have five fulls out now, one that's been out with an agent since February of this year. Should I assume something? What should it be? A yes? A no? A maybe someday?

So this author whom you'd spent so much time thinking about, I'm sure, probably thought Bookends was a no because so many agents now say that if you do not hear from us, it's a no.

That said, I'm sorry about your frustration. I do think she should have let you know, but I have a feeling she thought you wouldn't care. So agents, please know that we really, really do need to hear from you or we'll just go "out with someone else." :) And we don't mean to be rude, we're just anxious to get on with our careers.

BookEnds, LLC said...

I was trying to sit back quietly, but finally had to respond.

This was a vent which I clearly admitted in the post. I feel that by sharing advice, pieces of information, and even frustrations I'm giving you a peek into my world. This was not meant in any way to show you that my day is harder then yours. On the contrary, it was to show you that this business can drag you down on all sides, that while you're frustrated with agents who don't respond, who don't get your work, or who just seem like jerks, I see the same from authors.

The truth though, from my end, is that most authors are wonderful and I like my job, I don't think I've ever said I didn't, but even when working the best job in the world there are things that aren't always great.

I hope that you (december/stacia) aren't beating yourself up. Mistakes happen, things are missed and I imagine the agent you apologized too understands that. You did the right thing and handled it well so feel free to stop worrying about it.

I also apologize on behalf of publishing for those of you who left constructive feedback and gripes. I understand your frustrations and am glad you feel that this is a forum where you can share them. I think the hard thing is that any time an agent requests anything from an author we assume it's under consideration and many times we discuss projects with colleagues. It's part of the business.

As for those who felt the need to "go off" on me. If you'd like me to stop blogging or feel that I'm no longer useful say the word and if there's a consensus I'll stop (no need to tell me to stay, I'm not going anywhere) or maybe you should just stop reading my "useless" blog. This blog is not a waste of precious work time, although it is time consuming, it is a marketing strategy for our business as well as a way for us to do community service to the writing community. My hope is that in the future fewer miscommunications between authors and agents happen because I have helped explain the business.

And lastly, I want to make clear for those of you who might be new to the blog that in some ways this "vent' connects to my regular preaching to authors to make sure all your options are open before accepting an offer of representation. I don't expect to be coddled by authors and I don't think I've ever asked for that, but when you have an offer it's in your own best interest to use it to either make sure that you are finding the best agent for you or make connections/network with other agents. You just never know.

Keep the comments coming I love hearing what you have to say, when it's smart and constructive.

--jessica
I

Anonymous said...

It's all about respect. The business is cutthroat enough that people on both sides feel they have to forsake courtesy in order to look out for themselves.

If I had my own lit agency (and I never will, but if I did), I would have a policy of responding to each and every query, partial, or full submission, even if only a full. That way the wrtiers always know where they stand. If you're worried about a response inviting "blowback" from rejected writers who see a personalized reject as an opportunity to start a dialog, then use a non-reply e-mail address for the rejects.

But I agree that any business that operates by not responding at all to its potential clients is shortchanging themselves. It's an inefficient model.

For example, to me, no response does not mean no. Only no means no. So my policy, when faced with no response, is to re-query (some months later) until I get an actual response one way or the other. I know I'm not the only writer that does this. But for the agency it means that they're volume of queries is artifically increased due to their lack of response policy.

Cat Schield said...

NO NO NO don't even think about quitting this blog. You're a much needed voice of sanity in this crazy business.

Anonymous said...

Sorry that should have read (lasat post) "...even if only a form [reject]..." not even if only a full.

Anonymous said...

Question for you serious writers here and agents:

Just over 7 weeks ago a bigtime NY agent requested the first 3 chapters of my thriller novel. I sent them the same day, but as of now, have not heard a peep from him.

Would it be a bad move to reply to the (almost 2-month old) e-mail he sent me requesting the partial, and inquire about the status?

Anonymous said...

I'm not clear if this was an initial query, or requested materials.

When I signed with my agent, I knew that I needed to contact other agents who had partials or fulls. It didn't occur to me to contact agents with queries. (I'm defining "query" as any initial, unsolicited material, even if it includes several chapters, as some agents prefer.) I'd had it drummed into me to not "bother" agents with whom there is no relationship.

Later, my agent suggested that I should let the queried agents know as well, so I tried. I don't know if my messages got through or not. One of those agents did request a partial a week later, so she at least missed my message. (This doesn't surprise me. When my message came, my query was probably still in the slush pile. Finding it to associate it with my message wouldn't be a priority for the intern fielding the message.)

I really think the accusation of "unprofessional" is over the top.

Anonymous said...

I'm a lurker who has never commented, but I read your blog a couple of times a week. I was upset by some of the comments posted, which were just plain nasty.

When I signed with an agent, I sent a quick email to the other agents who had requested the proposal. That is basic professional behavior. It's always better to take the high road--no matter how bitter you feel about the whole process.

Anonymous said...

You want to be as polite as possible without jeopardizing your chances.

Anon waiting 7 weeks--I don't think 7 weeks is that long. Maybe wait 3 months before status inquiry. You guys agree?

Kim said...

No, please Jessica, don't let a few disgruntled readers stop you from sharing yourself (good and bad) with us. Your honesty and willingness to share is deeply appreciated. Your blog is the ONLY one I visit daily and I find myself frequently revisiting past entries.

You have a right to vent (sure, it can be argued the others have a right to reply), but bottom line is, I suspect there are far many of us polite people who feel that do unto others is a decent way to behave. There are just some things you shouldn't apologize for and being upset about not being told the writer took other representation is one of them.

And I love anon 4:53's response to agents who don't respond to queries. Haven't tried that yet. :D

Anonymous said...

Jessica

I posted the Anon 8:48 post this morning. I checked the blog when I got home this evening and was pleasantly surprised to find all these comments.

Pleasantly surprised that they were included and not deleted by the blog owner.

You vented and it appears writers vented. And that's healthy.

Can we all change the world?

I doubt it.

Can we all change how agents and writers, and the "process," works?

I'm not sure.

But it's openness like this, that you have demonstrated, that takes a step in that direction.

Many kudos to you.

Merry Monteleone said...

Anon 5:10,

A lot of agents need more time to get back to you on partials or fulls than on the original request, especially a very busy agent. I wouldn't send a follow up after 7 weeks. Someone else said three months and that does sound fair and I don't think anyone's going to get annoyed by a polite status check email after three months.

You might want to check the boards on the agent, too. If you google him or her with 'query response' or some variable, you'll find boards like absolute write where authors are discussing their experiences with particular agents... which can sometimes help gage.

Anonymous said...

Merry,

Thank you for your advice. I think I will wait for 3 months before following up. I do read that agency's blog, but they are not a heavy interactive blogger like Bookends, they have a blog, but only do a new post every couple weeks or so.

Anonymous said...

I now make it a habit to check my spam box after I found an agent's response to a query in there.

micheleleesbooklove said...

I hope your case is merely something that fell through the cracks. In the excitement of getting a yes this author might have just forgotten (or not kept track of her submissions period).

Since we're voicing frustrations, I'd like to send out a growl at the 8 agents who never even bothered to respond my queries (and in a case or two my query plus sample pages), which I find terribly unprofessional.

And also to the agents who have had my requested 50 page samples since February.

It's your exact situation I'm trying to avoid by not sending my query out again, least one of the 4 partial/full subs I have out earn me representation. I don't want to have to send out mass withdrawal letters so I try to limit the number of requests out at a time. but in the mean time I have no clue at all if my work is even under serious consideration, or if it's in a pile that hasn't been touched yet.

Thank you, by the way, Bookends ladies, for not doing that.

Julie Weathers said...

"I realize I’m behind on proposals, but I’m not that behind. So I had a nonfiction proposal that was a few weeks old. I liked the idea a lot, but was unsure whether or not it was the right direction to go in, so I brought the proposal up in our weekly meeting to discuss it with others here. We discussed the proposal as it was and everyone had varying opinions. I really liked it though."

"It would be completely unprofessional for all of us to "assume" our works are under consideration every time we submit something to agents. Afterall, reading blogs proves that this just isn't the case."

Lucky you, I'm in a thoroughly pissy mood so let's play.

She said she had a proposal. That means more than an e-query. It means it's being considered.

At the point an agent offers representation, here is what I would do. Now, I haven't read the rest of the posts so I have no idea if someone has said don't ever do this. This is just what me and my common sense/common courtesy would do. Contact the agents who have material. Being a professional writer, or at least playing one on tv, I have a complete list of everything that has been submitted to everyone. I go down that list, which doesn't take that long since I'm not submitting to fifty agents at once. Then I send a polite reminder of who I am and a copy of my query letter and tell them an agent has offered representation. I would like to know if they have any interest as (give the true reason why I thought they would be a good fit for my book) and thought they should be aware of the situation.

If they have no interest, they can return the materials, take it off the shelf and shred it, delete it from their files, whatever. If they are interested, I would like to hear from them so I can make an informed decision.

Have the common courtesy to respect the time and efforts of industry professionals.

Just because you think this is your opportunity to get back at all the agents who didn't pounce on your golden goose, rise above the brief "take that you ignorant knaves," and thank them for considering you.

All right, I'm going to go drink some cocoa with marshmallows now. I'll be back to normal, delicate me in the morning.

Julie Weathers said...

Jessica,

I just wanted to let you know you are in the short go, when I get ready to start submitting. Yes, I can feel the elation from here. I'm sure you're exciting.

One of the reasons you did make the cut, is your very helpful, professional and personal blog. (Even more excited aren't you? You should be. When you sell my humorous, romantic, mystery, thriller, epic fantasy fictional novel, you will be the envy of agenthood and it will be due in part to your excellent blog.)

Let me direct your attention to the snipers. Oh, yeah, they're in anonflage, you can't see them. While I can see valid reasons for posting anon, doing so just so you can get some cheap shots off isn't one of them. Since they want to be invisible, I suggest we let them be.

Your blog is one of the dwindling number I allow myself to browse. I do so because of the pertinent, informative posts.

I thank you for taking the time to do this.

Ignore the peanut gallery.

Anonymous said...

Pot to kettle. Unless you reply to everything you pass on with a personal rejection this whole post is a crock. To do anything but that shows a lack of professionalism defined by this entry.

Julie Weathers said...

Pot to kettle. Unless you reply to everything you pass on with a personal rejection this whole post is a crock. To do anything but that shows a lack of professionalism defined by this entry.

Personal rejection? All the author had to do was send a brief note, didn't even have to be personal, saying the work is off the market.

With the ease of submitting to agents these days, I can understand why they are flooded with hundreds of queries a week. I don't particularly like it, but when some say they don't respond to queries they aren't interested in, I understand.

You seem to be missing the point. A proposal was on the table. How difficult would it be for the author to send a one sentence form email saying the work was gone? Especially considering it probably wasn't on the table with hundreds of agents like the queries are from authors.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if the rejection is personal or not. I just want SOME response. Form rejects are fine, with non-replyable addresses. Just as long as I know it was received and considered.

ChristaCarol said...

First, I want to say to people who take this -- well -- just wrong, in my opinion: Jessica warned us it was venting. We all vent about work. No matter if we have the best job in the world, there is always SOMETHING that sucks about it every now and again if not repeatedly. She's allowed to vent, just like us. so chill people. :-D

Now, Jule Weathers, hah! I love you! I came to read Jessica's blog for two reasons tonight. 1). to catch up with her insight and advice and 2). to distract myself from horrible thoughts about my 3 yr old daughters visit to the hospital tomorrow. And you, my dear, have topped my cake with sprinkles. I can now safely say I can go to bed with a smile on my face. Thank you!

And I completely agree, while I've never thought of it before, about sending a quick note (Hello, e-mailing shouldn't take that long for us writers who type all day) if an agent has offered representation.

It's almost like when you interview for a job and you send the interviewer a Thank You card for their time. Have you been offered a job? No. (And I have to wonder if people even do this anymore in this "World of Rude" we live in today). But it's common courtesy and professionalism, and heck....seriously writer's, if you've been offered rep. and could have a chance at having another if not more agents try to offer you rep as well because they found out someone else is interested . . . I mean . . . to me that sounds like an ideal situation to be put in.

So, after reading this blog (thanks to you Jess!) I will now have a mental reminder to e-mail those agents in which I submitted, similar to Julie's advice. I like it very much and it doesn't waste any of my time. In fact, it may or may not improve my future as a writer. Woopie to that!

micheleleesbooklove said...

>>Only no means no. So my policy, when faced with no response, is to re-query

Me too :) Anything other than a "no" is a maybe.

Anonymous said...

Jessica, I started four or five different comments last night when I saw how the comments were going here but ultimately didn't leave them.

But I really feel the need to apologize on behalf of my fellow writers. Their response to you has been shockingly rude. You blog here every day, giving advice and opinions and tips, and as thanks they call you names and imply you're unprofessional and a terrible person because agents--who aren't even you--aren't falling all over themselves to keep them appraised of every second of their days.

(And before you all start in on me, I have an agent already, and no, it isn't any of the BookEnds ladies.)

You know what, unagented gripers? GET OVER IT. This is the way the business works. Play along or get out. But I'm sick and tired of you turning every comment thread into a whine all about yourselves and your sad, sad situation. It would be great to be able to dicuss something other than responses to queries, just once or twice. I don't think that's too much to ask for, is it? To let the rest of us have a turn? To allow blogging agents to focus on things aside from queries?


I'm sure you do think it's too much, as you don't even seem to want agents to be able to focus on their clients instead of reading queries. Perhaps you'll see this situation different when I explain that the time Jessica spent on that proposal was time when she could have been reading your query? Does that make a difference for you? Now that we've made it all about you again?

This post could have sparked a very interesting discussion. Instead it turned into yet another round of "Listen to the writers whine and yell and complain that the world doesn't revolve around them and the industry doesn't work exactly the way they want it to."

I'm sorry, but I'm just sick of hearing it.

Anonymous said...

While there have been a few rude responses, I do think there has been good discussion. Several people have disagreed politely.

Faye Hughes said...

Looks like Jessica hit on a raw nerve with this one.

The best advice I could give an unpublished writer looking for representation is to not short-change yourself. I get the whole frustration with the system thing, but why are you hurting yourself over it? If you have submitted your manuscript - either a partial or a full - to several agents and you receive an offer, you should use that to your advantage to get the best representation possible. Contact the other agents, let them know about the offer and ask if they are interested in your work. Who knows? You might get multiple offers of representation.

Faye

AstonWest said...

For the poster who was considering a follow-up after 7 weeks, have you checked their website for guidelines? I recently a request for partial from an agent who stated that it would likely be 2 months before I received a response.

On a query (a long while back), I gave a gentle reminder e-mail ("Just checking back to make sure my query made it to you") after 2 months of no response and found out they'd never received the submission. They ended up asking for a partial another 2 months later.

On the original post, I've never had this happen with a novel...but for two short stories I've submitted places.

On the first, an outlet spelled out the fact that they didn't respond to submissions unless they were interested, and that responses would come in 60 days. So, after 60 days, I figured they weren't interested and submitted it elsewhere (where it was accepted). Not even a week later, I received a response from the first outlet, accepting the work (bummed me out, because they paid more than the second. :-P ).

In the second case, the outlet used a web-based submission form, where you could remove a submission from consideration (which I did), and then received a note asking where it had gone, since they wanted to accept it. I had no indication that it was even under consideration at the time, or else I wouldn't have pulled it.

So, don't know if that helps...but this was just a venting post. Feel free to vent anytime.

:-)

Julie Weathers said...

"I don't care if the rejection is personal or not. I just want SOME response. Form rejects are fine, with non-replyable addresses. Just as long as I know it was received and considered."

Then make sure you don't query agencies who specifically say they don't respond if they aren't interested. Even then you are going to be disappointed because sometimes crap just happens.

I firmly believe the agent who is meant for my work is out there and so should you. If one doesn't respond it's a nudge to keep looking.

If a person lets the query process eat them this badly, the entire writing and publishing process is going to drive them insane.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:49 AM

There really is nothing worse than your holier-than-thou attitude. I'm happy you have an agent and overjoyed it's not one of the Bookends agents so it won't appear your out here solely to stick up for them. Most of the griping wasn't in the least bit vitriolic but your attitude is sure coming off that way.

SapphireSavvy said...

I am sure you've heard plenty of times about how the opposite is true as well. Everyone can be an unprofessional mug.

When I was accepted by my agent, I only let the ones who were "considering" me as a client know that she wanted me to sign a contract. I gave clear advance notice. And because these other agencies were dragging me along with vague promises, but no hard contracts, I took the bird in the hand. But I don't believe I owed the people whom I had simply qeried any advance notice. So I guess I'm not sure what the difference between a query and a proposal is--I do F, not NF. I am sorry you lost meeting time due to this shlump, though.

Anonymous said...

I'm published and agented. When I began my agent search, I already had a number of books out with major publishers, and I found that the degree of professionalism and courtesy from agents varied widely. I queried six agents, all very well regarded and specific to my field.

Agent #1: he never bothered to respond-- ever.

Agent #2: this agent required that submitting authors send copies of all published works with the intital query. So I was out $60 in book and mailing costs right off the bat. She never bothered to respond, either.

Agent #3: she didn't respond, but her colleague heard of this through his client (also my friend)and I understand he was upset at the agent's lack of professionalism. There was some behind-the-scenes discussion, but I never heard directly from the oroginal agent I queried.

Agent #4: responded quickly, initiated a dialogue, then inexplicably was silent for over a month after asking me to describe my unpublished work so she could decide what she wanted to see. A follow-up email elicited more silence. A third, in which I told her that two other agents were seriously interested, and I'd still love to hear from her, finally got a response: she requested that numerous manuscripts be emailed at once, and sent me her rejection virtually instantly.

Agents #5 and #6 were both highly professional and handled the query process beautifully. They responded in a timely manner to the original query, initiated dialogue about further work, requested what they were interested in, let me know they'd received it, and gave me their rough timetable for reading it. Both actually emailed me when they were in the middle of reading my work, just to let me know they were doing so, and how much they liked it. Both arranged calls, both told me they were thinking of offering representation but needed a little more time to give my work due consideration, plus present it at an agency meeting. Both ended up offering representation and it was a tough choice, because both agents were stellar.

The way the different agents handled the query process gave me some very good information about how they'd likely conduct themselves if I were their client. Agents #5 and #6 responded in a timely manner, were honest, and let me know at every stage what was going on in the process. I never had to sit around wondering.

Did I inform agents #1 and #2 when I was offered representation, and signed with my choice? Frankly, it never even occurred to me.

Anonymous said...

I will say this: there are more comments on this thread than the blog usually gets. Controversy sells!

Rissromance: said...

"In fact, "stop blogging and get back to work" is what you'd hear if it were my company. Your preaching to the same old wannabe witers' blog contingent is not garnering new clients." Anon 2:35

Umm, Anon 2:35? Jessica's 'preaching' actually made me blow off every other agent I had in mind and query her instead. So, it's quite possible her blog garnered her a brand new, sparkly client.

Jessica, I know you said we don't need to tell you to stay, so I won't, but, I will say 'Thanks'. Your blog is a fantastic marketing tool, and without it, I would be far less confident of my querying/pitching skills. Thank you.

Marissa Agar

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