Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Repeat Questions on Writers’ internet Forums

I belong to three writers’ forums and five more writerly groups on Facebook. Many have multi-published veterans who participate. Almost all have many more newbies, and the questions they ask are surprisingly similar.

Why “surprisingly”? Because a simple search or quiet observation for a short amount of time would have given the answers to most.

Here are some questions I see over and over (and over and over)😦. There are different opinions as to the “right” answers, but I’ll give mine here because they reflect a general consensus, some experience, and this is my blog, after all 😜

*Should you nudge an agent who has had your unsolicited submission for a while?
Basically, no. You’ll be adding to their bursting Inbox. Let them know you have an offer from another when you do. That’s all the nudging that makes sense.

*Should you send the latest revision to all the agents who have yet to reply to your unsolicited submission, since you made changes you are excited about?
Basically, no. Unless the changes are vast and make a story unrecognizable, you will be making changes many times after feedback and spontaneous brainstorms. No agent is thrilled to know you sent him or her something that you hadn’t already vetted and polished before approaching them.

*Should you mention to an agent that you got another’s full request?
Basically, no. A full request shows interest, but most do not lead to offers. Only offers are possibly relevant to an agent.

*Should you mention how much another much-lauded writer praised the manuscript at a critique session? How much your critique group loved it?
Certainly not. And don’t mention your kids’ approval or your mother’s, if you’re lucky enough to have such a family.

The thing is, unsolicited queries require only one thing—

that you wait patiently, keep querying others, and don’t reveal your inner fretting as you move forward to, hopefully, an offer you are happy to accept.

And after that, it’s your agent who gets to wait on editors’ responses.


Kelly Hashway said...

When I was querying, an agent actually advised authors to let other agents with partials know when an agent requested the full. I did, and it worked! It led to more requests for the full manuscript. Basically, a request for a full shows other agents that someone saw merit in the work, and that led them to be curious enough to request also. So that actually can work in the author's favor. This was years ago, though, so it's possible things have changed.

Mirka Breen said...

Yes, things have changed in that agents Inboxes are much fuller now.
Back then,(only a few years ago!) almost every agent would grace a submission with a reply, even when it was "no, thanks." Now many don't bother, and no-reply-means-no is more common. It's a function of the ease of digital (vs. snail mail) submissions and the tendency of new writers to nudge and add to the volume, which is why I wrote the post.
Getting an offer is another matter. That is a time to notify all holding a full that you have an interested agent. Both times when I became agented, this notification led to more offers. It is the right thing to do then, because the agents who requested the full manuscript are already on record as interested.

Evelyn said...

I don't have anything to add since I'm not agented. But I enjoyed reading your post.

Vijaya said...

As always, wise and welcome advice. I remember being a newbie and not fretting over anything and just willy-nilly sending things out the minute I was happy with a story...do you think people have changed where they are overly cautious?

Mirka Breen said...

Some people always fretted. Some are better at letting go.

I think what has happened is something Harold Underdown warned about when he suggested mass-querying and follow up nudging will slay the goose that lay the golden egg.

It has come to pass. Publishers, once replying to every query, stopped replying at all. Then they closed to the unagented. Then agents, once replying to every query, also stopped.

Barbara Etlin said...

I agree with all your answers.

I was going to disagree with the first, but when I reread and saw that you had written "unsolicited queries" I changed my mind. When the agent is expecting the manuscript because it's requested, the answer is different.

Jenni said...

Interesting post. I've always been reluctant to nudge. They are busy people, and I know how overwhelming an overly full mailbox is.

I truly don't mind no response means no to unsolicited queries. It's unfortunate that it happens on solicited manuscripts sometimes as well.

I recently had a friend get a request on a year old submission, so sometimes it's just that the industry moves slowly.