Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Something is happening with the agency. The partials and manuscripts we requested last spring and summer are of a consistently better quality than those we requested in the "early years." That's the good news AND the bad news. Now it's much harder to make a final "go or no-go" decision. Jon employs the "sleep on it" technique. If he's having trouble deciding on a partial or manuscript, he'll put it aside for at least a day or two. When he comes back to it, his head has cleared and he can make a decision based on:

  1. His passion for the plot and the writing

  2. His belief that others (in other words EDITORS) will share his enthusiasm

  3. The joy the work brings him; how it rattles in his head long after he's read it

If the work stands up to those judgements, he'll move forward. If not, he'll reluctantly pass. It seems to be a good method and I'm trying to employ it myself. I have two such projects on my desk today. At this point, they are both calling to me. I think I'll sleep on it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


"Ye gods!" It hit me this morning. That line is NOT from "Oklahoma!" It's from "Music Man." (See post from last week.)

Luckily I'm better at book titles than musicals.

Friday, October 24, 2008


Dear Writers:

Please make sure this email message isn't automatically sent to the agents who kindly respond to your queries:

I apologize for this automatic reply to your email. To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand. If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox.

We get these responses every once in awhile and I always ask myself, "Huh?"

You go to the trouble to email a perfectly good query. Then we go to the trouble to email back a nice rejection--or--be still my heart--perhaps a "Please send more--we love this--we love you!" response. And what happens? A robot tells us we are not approved. It makes me feel like my credit rating isn't up to snuff or my deodorant has failed me!

We trash these messages and then you never know what our response was. But that's your fault. Make sure we never get this silly automated message. I'm not going to take the trouble to become one of your special "approved senders." Why, I hardly know you!

OK, I feel better. It's going to rain tomorrow and I'm going to bake cookies and drink wine while Jon cooks one of his special dinners! Have a nice weekend.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


"Ye gods," as they say in the movie version of "Oklahoma" in-which-is-starring-one-of-my best-friend's-handsome-sons-in-a-local-production. (Remember the name Colin Hooker-Haring--he'll be a big star one day.)

Where was I and why haven't I been blogging? I've been working on our local presidential campaign, that's where. Phone banking, meeting, cooking for the crew, stuffing envelopes and sorting brochures. Oh, yeah, also working on our book publicity campaigns and the literary agent biz. For sure I haven't been blogging.

But today I write because I want to talk about exclusives. We don't ask for them. We don't want them. Jon is struggling with a writer at this very moment who is being rather troublesome. Jon enjoyed this guy's partial. He asked for the manuscript, but certainly did not ask for an exclusive look. We are so behind in our reading that asking for an exclusive would be completely unfair AT THIS POINT.

In the end, Jon turned down the manuscript for many good reasons. He wrote to the author and told him, in broad strokes, why he was not going to take the book. The author asked for specifics and told Jon that he'd given the manuscript to us "exclusively," and therefore, Jon was obliged to give the author his reading notes. He then suggested that he'd pay for the reading notes. Jon is writing him yet another email with the final goodbye.

But this experience has left a bad taste in our literary mouths. You should never consider that an agent has requested an exclusive unless that agent has said he wants an exclusive. And, please don't offer us money for any reason. That is a big, big no-no.

Now for the good news. We've been up at 6 every morning for the past two weeks to get caught up on our partial and manuscript reading. We'll continue until we have read everything through the September pile. So, if you're waiting to hear from us, give us a bit more time. We're getting there!