To your left is an actual picture of the pile of proposals our office has received since December 1, 2009. About 30 days worth of incoming mail…during a slow time of the year. The stack of books next to the pile include books sent for review (consideration) and recent publications that I want to look at.
That does not include the myriad of email submissions we get (many simply ignoring our guidelines regarding email submissions)…inquiries from those who use the contact form on our web site (many of those ignoring the request to “Please do not copy and paste your entire manuscript into this form.“)
Or the poor soul that failed to proofread their email before sending this sentence, “I would like to send you my quarry letter….”
Nor does it include those that do an Internet search and call us. Recently we got a call that went something like this:
Agency: This is the Steve Laube Agency…
Caller: What kind of agency are you?
Agency: We are a literary agency.
Caller: What does that mean?
Agency: It means we represent books to publishers on behalf of our clients and manage our client’s careers.
Caller: Oh good. I do comic strips…and they are really unique… [caller's voice gets faster and louder as they talk]
Agency: Well, we don’t represent artists or comic strip artists.
Caller: But I’m a philosopher too! ….. [further explanation followed]
Agency: Well, we [caller interrupts]
Caller: And I’m also a musician with over 500 songs to my credit.
Agency: Unfortunately we do not represent musicians at this time.
Caller: But I was named Rock musician of the year…
Agency: We’re sorry but it does not appear that our agency would be a good fit for you.
Caller: You want to listen to my stuff for free on Myspace?
Agency: I don’t see how that would be a good use of our time.
Caller: Someday someone will discover it and make millions.
Agency: We wish you the best in all your endeavors…
The day before, the office received a call from an aspiring author who was a psychic who had an “amazing” personal story to tell…oh, and by the way, they also have two novels done and five children’s books ready and waiting.
Meanwhile I look at my to-do list compiled last weekend in preparation for hitting the ground running on Monday January 4th:
- We are waiting for final contract paperwork on four new book deals.
- We have three authors whose proposals will get thumbs up or thumbs down at a pub board in the next week or two.
- We are waiting for proposals from fifteen clients (all in development over the last couple months).
- We need to have “career counsel” conversations with at least ten other clients. (All very different in scope and intensity.)
- We need to make the “do we represent?” decision on five successful and published authors who have approached us and the same decision on at least a half dozen excellent unpublished authors whose full manuscripts have been reviewed and now sit on the floor near my desk…staring at me (they are not in the picture above).
And that was just the to-do list and does not include the review of cover designs and marketing plans for forthcoming titles. Nor does it include the contracted clients who are wrangling with their editors over any number of issues (everything from copy edit/grammar questions to editors not returning a phone call). Don’t get me wrong! I’m not complaining. In fact this is quite an exciting time. But this post is for those who wonder why agents take so long to make representation decisions. I’ve written about rejection before and no agent takes the process lightly. But a little understanding and self education would make every writer’s experience while approaching an agent a little more tolerable.
I fully expect that at least 90% of that stack pictured above isn’t ready yet. It doesn’t mean it isn’t good. Only that it isn’t ready. The competition is fierce and a little extra effort to learn the industry (read Rachelle Gardner’s and Chip MacGregor’s blogs), learn the craft by going to a good writers conference in 2010, and realize this is a marathon, not a sprint.