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  1. #1
    Robert Raven

    A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    So here it is, May. Back in March I sent out five queries to agencies regarding a novel, got three quick responses, one a form reject, the other two positive requests for partials. The first of these to arrive was from the agency I liked best, asking for a 6-8 week exclusive, which I agreed to and sent them the requested material. A couple of days later came the second positive response, which Iíve been sitting on now for about six weeks. I had a minor true excuse (that I was traveling and unavailable) for two weeks, and so Iím still sitting on it until I hear from the first agency.

    But Iím now getting antsy. I only did the exclusive because it was the single agency I most wanted to hear from, and, yeah, I know, there are people here who will berate me for doing an exclusive with anybody. But by mid-month the expressed window of exclusivity expires. So, should I send them a note asking whatís up, and (maybe) explaining that I have another agency interested in seeing the material? Or just send the second agency the stuff?

    Or just say, Screw it, and take up macramť and cheap Scotch. Ah, crap, that wonít work, either. Iím no good at macramť.

    I probably should explain that Iíve been down this road before, numerous times. Three or four years ago I did a couple of spasms of querying agents, got a number of positive responses, but every one turned into a rejection. Which bummed me out so bad I just quit submitting for a couple of years. Now Iím getting depressed at the thought that Iím about to go through that all over again. Youíre supposed to get used to doing this; itís supposed to get easier to send stuff out the more you do it. That hasnít been my experience. When I first started submitting I was full of enthusiasm and optimism (I've submitted dozens of short stories for publication as well, with equally dismal results). Now it makes me want to open my veins. I dread the mailbox.

    Then there are the other two agencies I queried who have never responded at all. What do I think of that, six weeks along in the ďprocessĒ (God, I hate that word)? My goal seems so simple: To get a book-length piece of work respectably published (i.e., accepted by a legitimate publisher, and printed in book form). It doesnít seem so much; Iím not under any illusions of getting rich. I donít even give a crap anymore if it sells fifteen copies to the public.

    So how does everybody else maintain their illusions about the possibilities of success at this endeavor? Can anyone define ďsuccessĒ at this in the absence of reasonable hope of real publication? Are therapies available? Maybe some gene-splicing? Would a frontal lobotomy help?

    And where in hell did I leave that bottle of cheap Scotch?


  2. #2

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    There's the spray and pray technique. There's also that saying - twenty percent of your labour yields eighty percent of your work, ie research prospective buyers carefully and target your query specifically to them.
    Same old same old.

  3. #3
    Mary M.

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    Be patient AND question "the exclusive" practice. It seems the culprit in your angst. I hope you're looking at things with a more relaxed eye today.

  4. #4

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    Hate to tell you, but if you grant exclusives, then you deserve what you get.

  5. #5
    Sharon B.

    Re: A minor rant (It\\\'s late, I\\\'m tired)

    Robert Raven:

    There is hope if you have worked on honing your writing skills in whatever way possible.

    For example: A writing critique group, other writers reviewing your work, writing classes, and reading up on perfecting your writing.

    Keep improving your writing, then there is hope.

    Good luck,


  6. #6

    Re: A minor rant (It\\\'s late, I\\\'m tired)


    Your work is so good it will find a home. I have no doubt of that. I am a customer who is dying for that book to be available. I'm not blowing smoke up your skirt, I really mean it.

    Agents are crazy. I've never heard of an industry that relies on personal taste, but there you go, that's how agents choose their projects. Don't take it personally because that would be silly. You just have to find the one whose taste matches your project. That agent is out there.

    In re exclusives. I also granted one very early on. Similar to you, it was the biggest agent in Dodge so why not (and a few other personal reasons). At the end of the exclusive period I sent it out again. A few days later I got a message from the assistant asking me the status and reassuring me they were "very interested". I 'fessed up. She didn't bat an eye. She said they were really trying to move forward but the stars weren't quite aligned, begged for some more time, but understood it was no longer exclusive, etc. etc. etc.

    Many months later, just recently as a matter of fact, they finally did pass. Ouch! But by then, I had 16 more ms out there.

    So my specific advice is to go ahead and send the next one out when the exclusive expires. You might give them a heads up you are doing this or you might not (I didn't).

    Robert, if you can get inside the head of a 16 year old girl, you can do this. Do it for your Gipper, the Destroyer of Dreams. He needs a chin up.

  7. #7

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)


    At least you've still got your sense of humor, and some perspective.

    My guess is part of the problem lies in how hard it is to sell a novel without any short-story credits. I know you've sent out a lot of stories in the past, but hard as it is, try to be patient. Maybe start a new one now, as a distraction if nothing else.

    Granting exclusives is so tempting, but given how wacko--a good clinical term, by the way-- the occasional agent can be,you might want to avoid granting them in the future.

    You're discouraged right now. This sure is a tough life choice, isn't it? But try not to stay down for long.


  8. #8

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    Robbie, honey, pour me a shot. I'm so discouraged today, I can't stand myself. I feel like I've fallen out of the game completely. Ten agents have partials or fulls, they've had them forever, and nothing is moving in any direction no matter how many Q's I send out or how much I pray. Did I write a book? Who the hell knows. It seems like a lifetime ago that I sent out my first Q.

    There's one agent who asked me for an exclusive and I said no, so they wouldn't receive my ms. Good agency, lots of sales. I frequently wonder if that was supposed to be my agent and I should have said yes to the exclusive.

    So don't be hard on yourself, my internet friend. You did what you thought was right.

    It's all a crapshoot, anyway.

  9. #9
    Robert Raven

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    "It's all a crapshoot, anyway."

    I'm terrible at crap.


  10. #10
    Robert Raven

    Re: A minor rant (It's late, I'm tired)

    . . . and I'm getting advice from Don Quixote's horse?


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