Sunday, November 2, 2008

An extension from Chuck Sambuchino's blog

Chuck Sambuchino recently posted a question on his blog discussing what to do regarding how to approach an agent that has not gotten back to you. The question really stemmed from contacting the agent and finding out they "can't find the pages." Is this normal?

Now, I am not making excuses for anyone but yes, email and the mail does screw up now and then. I actually had a submission that I sent for an author to London that apparently went down somewhere in the middle of the North Atlantic.

Each agent really approaches how we deal with submissions differently. For me, when submissions come in, I put them in my "to be read" stack. Same with the emails. I then will pick up the stack when I have a block of time to read and go for it. For each manuscript, I record comments on the envelope as to what action I want to take. When those are all done, I do all of the letters at one time.

The e-queries work much of the same way.

Now, for all of the queries, I record them in a data base that keeps track of the author, the title, genre, e-query or not, date received, date responded and a comment. The nice thing is that when I have an author that re-submits, I do see that and will go back and look. I will tell you, this is when I find that someone is attempting to re-submit the same story, or how long it takes for someone to submit the requested manuscript.

I know that during good weeks, I can get back to people VERY fast. I also know there are times when the schedule just doesn't allow for a quick response. Either way, I do tell people to come back and email me if they haven't heard. Since opening Greyhaus, I must admit, I have missed a couple. In many cases, they occurred in the middle of one of those response sessions. In every case, I have record of making a response, but I am betting I just missed getting the letter written. It made it to the log but that was it.

Agents do not get upset if you check in with them. Sometimes they do fall behind.

Of course, I do want to add one additional element though. If an agent (and yes an editor) doesn't get back to you, or even continually makes comments such as "I am hoping to get to it..." do you really want to work with this person?


  1. Okay. There's a post on "Preditors" right now from an author who said an agent had asked for a full, and kept it for one year with no reply. She was "one of three agents who wanted it." In the end, she did get the author a two book deal from Penguin, and the book is doing very well, so she is happy.
    Mo way to know the truth of any of this, but again I wonder why an agent who is that busy is still looking for yet more writers, and the answer iw not a happy one.
    On the other hand, in this tight market what choice does any writer have? No one is forcing you to send them the manuscript in order the wait the stated year.
    What would you do, Scott? Is realizing you will be waiting a year to hear, "nah...don't like it. Sorry." worth the wait?
    Would you agree to an exclusive under these conditions? Will they suddenly have time for you once you are signed ? It's a miserable business al around these days.

  2. Hey Anon,

    The thing is that we really don't know all of the details as to why that book sold. There could be many factors of why the agent finally picked the person up.

    I guess this is my personal opinion that I would believe I want an agent that I can hear from when I contact them.

  3. Yes indeed. And since the missing party was "one of three who wanted it," (the query, the full? ) it is unclear why she waited, unhappily, for an entire year for a single word from said agent. But the story does have a happy ending, the book is receiving great reviews and selling like crazy, so who knows,perhaps she made a leap of faith and wrote the second book that is coming out shortly, during that long year, instead of running in circles and complaining to all who would listen.
    I keep telling myself this is no different than any other job. The present employee, or writer, as it were, goes bad on the employer, stops making money for the firm, and one of the waiting writers is yanked down from the sky and trotted out for a trial. But it feels different, and not good. See the excellent article by Harlan Coben in the July/August 2007 issue in The Atlantic. (Paperback Writer, pg. 98,) in which he describes the way he turned himself into a top selling writer through sheer force of will. Most interesting. Also, the Sara gruen article was in thr 2007 issue of the The Writer, not 2008
    Hope your side won last night..