Monday, June 25, 2007

Networking Through Submissions

I had two very interesting experiences in the same day that I wanted to share with you.

Recently I met an author during a pitch session and her enthusiasm for her book was amazing, it just bubbled over, and naturally it bubbled over onto me. She had a great idea and knew that it was her best book ever. Naturally she made me want to read it and I requested a full. Sadly I passed. I liked the writing and thought the story was a great idea, and of course I loved her, but I just didn’t fall in love with the story. I sent her an email to let her know, and of course I wished her the best of luck (which I do truly mean) and she responded so kindly. She was disappointed, too, but knows this business well enough to know that you have to find an agent who loves the work.

And then, moments later, karma intervened and I got an email from an author pulling her work from consideration. (I had only received it that week, and because it had been an insane week it was relegated to the bottom of the pile.) Anyway, this author had received another offer and, following the advice she learned from me on the blog, she interviewed the agent extensively. She told me who the agent was and that it really felt right. They clicked and she was going to accept the other offer. Ugh! I’m horribly, horribly disappointed, but thrilled. I can’t represent the world, and if I’m not going to do it I want to make sure you end up with someone who works for you, is reputable, and who will do an amazing job. It sounds like this other agent has all of those qualities.

Do you know what both of these brilliant authors did right? They acted professionally. And they started to establish a professional network. Because they acted politely, professionally, and built an email relationship, not only will I track their careers, but I will definitely stop to talk with them at conferences or other events where we might run into each other. I’ll probably buy the books when they come out and, presumably, if either of them are agent hunting again, hopefully they think I acted professionally and will think of me, and I will certainly think of them.

It never hurts to have a network of good people on your side, and that includes other authors, agents, and editors, so why not start when and where you can? I have a huge professional network, as do many, many authors, and I’m sure all of them can tell you how that’s come to help them as their careers move forward.



Reid said...

Since I'm trapped in the middle of the world between the two coasts, my submissions to agents will have to be through mail and email. Of course, I will respond to any personal critiques, requests, or comments. Is there anything to be gained from responding to emails or rejections that don't ask for the full manuscript, or would I just be wasting time talking to agents who've already chosen to ignore me?

Love the blog, as always. Thanks for all you do.

JDuncan said...

Ah networking! Seems to be the key to everything in the publishing world these days. It makes sense of course, but it's always a difficult thing to get a firm grasp on and do well. Speaking of which, if I happen to run into you at upcoming nationals Jessica, remind me to buy you a drink or at least shake your hand and comment on the fabulous jewelry you happen to be wearing. :-)


Kimber Li said...

Excellent examples! My jaw always drops to my kneecaps when someone says networking on the Internet is a waste of time for authors and aspiring authors alike. It drops to my toes when that someone is an industry professional!

Anonymous said...

One agent requested my full, offered suggestions for revisions which I completed in a week and a half, and then proceeded to sit on it for a year. Two follow up emails were ignored, but the third was acknowledged by the assistant. A year later, I had the opportunity to meet her during an RWA chapter meeting. I arrived, sparklingly clean and with fresh breath. I was enthusiastic. I introduced myself and gave her a thank you card. I could tell she couldn’t remember the story. I even paid money to do all of this networking. A week later, I received a form rejection.

I agree it’s important to network, but like reid observed, on the writer’s end, how far do we pursue a relationship? Especially if we can’t meet in person for whatever reason, and follow up emails to rejections are frowned upon (I’m referring to the personalized ones). I intend to query the agent again from the above scenario, but part of me feels like I’m making a little bit of a fool of myself, like I’m chasing after her like a little puppy dog.


Anonymous said...

Agents and publishers are to writers what Hollywood celebrities are to everybody else. How does a writer befriend a "star" without appearing to be a sycophant?

bhadd said...

Gotta begin in rags I suppose to get richer, or rich at least. Middle-class?

Isabelle Santiago said...

Wonderful advice Ms. Faust. Honestly, it's unfortunate that in this world, we must be reminded of the importance of business conduct and politeness, but you're absolutely right. A first impression goes a long way in keeping important relationships flowing years after. In business, it's called networking. You hit it right on the head.

Thank you!

Unknown said...

I never cease to be amazed at the number of people who think they don't have to be professional. Sure, it's a craft, but it's also a "business". It's not just you kicking out a great story. It's trying to get people to read your stuff, or trying to...please? Sell your stuff.

A good comparison is cameras. I work under security cameras. I know they're there and I know they can be zoomed, and recordings can be kept, and any stupid thing I do can and will come back to haunt me. BUT people still act like they aren't there. My God, can't they look up?

No matter how much you want to be nasty, or just ignore people who've decided to ignore you. Be polite. Politeness is the lowest common denominator. And for Heaven's sake, don't blog your frustrations.

...and I think, it's time to know when to back away. Smiling and gracious as all get-out...

Anonymous said...

Excellent points!

R.J. Anderson said...

I can personally attest to the value of maintaining a positive, professional attitude toward editors and agents even and especially when they turn you down. If I hadn't behaved professionally toward the editor who kept asking me for revisions, I would have missed a fantastic chance to improve my novel, as well as to get a referral to an excellent agent. Both the editor and that first agent ultimately turned my book down, but the first agent gave me a referral to a second agent, who fell in love with my ms. and signed me within the week. And he's been absolutely terrific, and I can't imagine having a better agent, so it all worked out very much for the best. None of it could have happened, though, if I'd flounced off in a huff, or otherwise been discourteous to the other editors and agents I met along the way.