Thursday, August 25, 2011

Seems It's Time for Another Reminder

This week, we sent out "reminder" emails to more than a dozen authors from whom we had requested materials but never received them.  For a couple, it appeared to be an email glitch, but for some, we also heard back things like, "I haven't sent my manuscript since, in the meantime, my beta readers have made a number of useful suggestions and I'm re-editing it."  Fair enough, but shouldn't she have known that before she submitted it?  Later, she writes, "I thought it was when I queried you, but of course I was wrong."  Don't get me wrong; I appreciate that she wants to get me the work in the best possible shape, but I think she made a crucial error:  she started querying agents before she was 100% satisfied with her work.  You shouldn't.

Querying agents is a bit like going to an open house and making an offer on it.  Can you back out?  Sure.  But you look like you don't know what you are doing.  The seller presumes that if you are offering, you are ready to follow-through.  Similarly, if you query an agent, the expectation is that your material is ready to go.

I know that some agents take forever to respond to queries (we sometimes take a while, also), but all it takes is one that reacts immediately and favorably to get you to the next step.  But if you aren't acutally ready to show your material, you risk losing the interest of the agent.

Now this woman didn't lose my interest because of the delay.  I suggested she query me again when she is actually ready to show the material.  Thus, what she did lose was time, because she is now going to have to restart the process with my firm.  Seem unfair?  Consider what happened.  She queried.  We answered and requested material.  She didn't respond. We followed up.  She finally responded that she wasn't ready to show the material.  Are we supposed to keep track of her query and keep following up?  Or should we be spending our time on the projects we already represent or on the works of prospective clients who waited until they were ready before querying us?  Seems more fair now, right?

So, do your editing.  Get your reads.  But don't query until you are ready to email the entire manuscript if the first agent you query says she wants it that day.


1 comment:

Michelle said...

I don't know what surprises me more, that there are unpublished authors who received a request and didn't respond, or you having to send out reminders.

Lexington, NC

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