Sunday, February 10, 2008

More from the Backup

About three months ago, an agent's assistant instructed me to send my full in response to a query. I learned that recently the assistant sent emails out to two people whose fulls had been requested after mine. One was a pass, the other was an update letting the writer know the full was still under consideration.

My question is this: What are the possible reasons an agent/assistant gets to manuscripts out of the order in which they were received? I am going nuts because I don't know if this means I should be worried, or request an update, etc.. It's not the time frame that concerns me...I expect to wait. But would you care to speculate about this?

There usually is not an order that we do things in with the mail pile. It's just the pile and we do it. As for fulls, we respond to those (in the rare cases where the agent doesn't respond themselves) basically in the order/priority the agent wants to do it in, which is usually dependent upon their schedule and interest level and a lot of other factors that have nothing to do with the manuscript itself. Agents are only human.

The following questions are all from the same person:

Do query letters work? From your blog comments I have gained new doubts, my previous belief was that you needed to get to someone on the right day, in the right moment, while they're in the right mood, with an interest in exactly what they're thinking about and have them misread what you've written in a favorable way to get any response... besides a rejection slip. Now, you make it sound more implausible for a query to work.

I would say a majority of my boss's current clients were people sending in normal query letters. The rest were query letters with strong referrals from someone my boss knew. So your answer is: yes.

What should a query letter really say to you? I have the books (bought used from half.c--) but you dismiss them. Of course, you probably realize that I'm operating under the delusion that my books are great and if you only heard what they were about you'd love them too.

It should tell me what your book is about and make it sound interesting.

The rule is to only query with a finished work - of fiction - right? I mean, while I spend a year polishing something to where I think it's finished I'm also writing another two or three stories that won't be finished anytime soon. These don't count to you, I know, unless I was established... so a shelf load of stories means what... anything?

Never send in anything that is not complete. Auto-reject.

Are novel posting sites actually of any interest to your profession? I posted a finished novel (I'm not sure about trying to market it as it strikes me as bland, though some friends actually reacted to what was in it... in a positive way) and a work in progress in the belief that those of us on this site would comment, discuss and offer advice about each others work... me, looking for the best in others. Anyway, they also make the claim that agents (they gave a list) peruse this site. Maybe they do if they want a snigger, most of what I read on the site (NovelMaker.c--) was incredible... I was making comments to one book (unfinished) so much that (POSSIBLY) I can no longer make comments to the site... hopefully it's a glitch, I'd hate to think it was personal. Of course, thinking about it, maybe that's what you go through constantly... dealing with so many obvious mistakes or yuck that you can't believe someone would try to pass it off as literature.

I spend absolutely no time on the internet whatsover looking at websites of writers who post their novels, and I spend a LOT of time on the internet. It is a way to workshop, but it is not a way to get found.

IF I aquired an agent through some arcane means (totally legal) would said agent be interested in looking through my shelf (list) of stories to give advice... you know, polish this one, finish this one, shelf this one far in the back... that kind of thing? Or is that always up to me?

Generally yes, but not until after the sale of the initial piece.

In my post on your blog I wondered about serial erotica... is there such a thing? It's not something I've yet investigated but I thought you might have a clue... do magazines, online outlets, or something I'm unfamiliar with do stuff like that. I mean, I started it as a character development exercise and it's still growing... I read it and there are parts that keep me inspired about my writing. The way it's going, though, it may devolve into a murder mystery or occult apocalyptic sci fi tale with just enough gratuitous sex to keep it erotica...

There are erotica magazines that I believe do post serial stories. I can't name them off the top of my head. However if you're chiefly writing sci-fi and it just has a lot of sex, it's not erotica. It depends if the central focus is the sex or the sci-fi.

I am actively marketing a sci fi novel, with 2.75 sequels... currently it's at Baen as that is the last publisher to accept unsolicited manuscripts of this genre... at least that I know of... anyway, I say this to let you know I am trying.

Tor also accepts unsoliticed queries. As does DAW. And I would work on not using so many ...s in your sentences.


clara bow said...

I'm the asker of the first question you answered today, and just wanted to say thanks so much for taking the time to shed light on yet another aspect of publishing. I emailed the agent requesting an update two weeks ago, and am still waiting to hear back. Lots of waiting, yep.

paul lamb said...

This was a useful post.

Anonymous said...

And here I thought all the ...s were you indicating that you'd omitted parts of several questions.

Anonymous said...

We're editing blog posts now?

The Rejecter said...

I usually make an edit when someone corrects me about something.

Anonymous said...

Question about "posting your stories online".....

Does this constitute "giving away first rights"? There are lots of sites out there ( being one of them) where one my post to, for fun. But is doing so shooting yourself in the foot? Or is it "what the publisher doesn't know doesn't hurt them?"

The Rejecter said...

I'm not sure if it is considered giving away first rights. To my knowledge there's not been a clear ruling on that in terms of the internet. Don't tell the people you're submitting to that you posted on a website unless the website paid you or told you they wanted to hold rights in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Regarding requested manuscripts...
I sent a query letter and the first 30pps of my manuscript to an agency back in mid August. In mid September the agent's assistant emailed me requesting the full. She said "we're looking forward to reading more." I followed up with an email January 7th to see if the assistant or the agent had gotten around to reading my MS. Have not heard back. (it is now Feb. 15) Does that mean rejection?
Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

The online women's erotica and erotic romance market is strong, and several publishers take serials. Changeling Press definitely does, and I think Torquere does as well. For more presses, try

Twill said...

I was going to say "..." is called an ellipsis, but then I realized that I always worry about the dag plural of them.

Cassandra said...

twill, I think the plural is "ellipses" but I'm too lazy to look it up.