Wednesday, October 11, 2006

THE GNASHING OF TEETH

So it's been almost a year since I sent the 3 chapter and synopsis package of Napoleone's Land to the agent. Sent a query in June: no response. Sent another a week ago, saying that if I didn't receive news by the end of the month, I was pulling the submission.

This morning, I received an email from someone else at the agency. And this is what it said:

Dear Lee,
I am sorry to have to give you bad news -- (Agent) departed from this agency back in May.
Unfortunately, he left many loose ends and did not inform people he would be leaving. I did my best to take care of his abandoned projects.
Unfortunately, I was unaware that he had not informed you of this news until this morning, when your email automatically forwarded to my email address.


Son of a BITCH! How hard would it have been to send me an email, just to let me know he was leaving, and to release the interst back to me? My novel has been sitting on a shelf for 6 months with nobody looking at it because this mongrel didn't have the decency to sort out his ongoing business before he walked. There is a stage of angry I get to: beyond shouting; beyond throwing things; beyond even the icy, very formal stage you get to see if I'm pissed off with you beyond repair. It's the stage where I simply stop talking, and my entire body becomes a very, very controlled set of movements. I hit this stage for about ten minutes after reading this.

Luckily, for both my temper and my optimism, the sender went on to say:

I recall your work (which in itself is a compliment, as we get hundreds of queries a month). I regret that I am unable to take it on. As it happens, I reviewed the work when it first came to us and passed it to (Agent) . I had no idea he never followed through on it.

She then gave me the name and address of a colleague at a different agency who may be interested. I've googled them, and they have a couple of good names on their list, so I'll be repackaging and sending the synopsis + 3 to them over the next few days, but, ohhhhhh, I'm angry. At a time when I feel like I'm treading water, to find out that someone has been so negligent, so uncaring, so goddamn unprofessional.....

Kudos and nice thoughts, however, to Christine, sender of the email, for her response.

Song of the moment: The Museum of Idiots They Might Be Giants
Reading: Doom Patrol- The Painting That Ate Paris Grant Morrison

11 comments:

Stephen Dedman said...

That's horrendous! Glad you e-mailed them rather than waiting any longer for a reply: good luck with the other agents!

Martin Livings said...

I don't want to depress you or nothing, but it doesn't improve too much once your book actually gets picked up, at least in my extremely limited experience. The last time I had any respknse to queries from Lothian/Hachette Livre was in July, and the person who DID reply has since left the company. :/

But same wishes as Steve, and get that book to another agent tout suite, so it can get published, dammit!

Anonymous said...

"Just when I get in, they pull me back out ..."

Sucks ass, man. Long time to wait to get an in-itself-a compliment.

With guys like this in the machinery, it's a wonder that the pub. industry isn't just grinding slowly to a halt. Oh, wait.

Anonymous said...

Fuck, man - that sucks. Your work doesn't deserve to be held in limbo like that, escpecially when another editor could be reading it. I don't know what it's like to go through that 'cause I've had very little experience myself, being new to this and all but all the best with the novel from here on in, mate.

Lee Battersby said...

Oh, Martin: the reason you've had no response from Lothian/Hachette is because Lothian is dead and Hachette don't want to acknowledge the bastard horror baby they were lumped with in the deal. It's got nothing to do with you or the quality of your book, and you know that.

Come this weekend, when I have the hour or two to get through it, I'll be packagaing the Syn+3 back up and sending it to this new agent. She's got a couple of good names on her list, a couple of SFWA members, but nobody absolutely A-list, which means (I feel) that she's still out for somebody who can take a big step up. Hopefully that'll pique her interest in my work. Hopefully.

Adrian Bedford said...

[wincing] Ouch. I'm dreadfully sorry to hear this. Much the same thing happened to me early in my relationship with my publisher, when the very nice, helpful, friendly, editor one day just upped stakes and left, again without letting anybody know, and leaving behind a vast amount of work. I despaired of ever getting any kind of reply from all the panicked emails I sent. Eventually, and I do mean that in terms of geological time, I learned that Editor Lady was Going Through Some Issues at the time, and decided that she'd had it with the publishing biz, and just abandoned it. Because of the way the firm was structured (ie, no central office, so everybody worked from their respective homes), the publisher had no idea why things were not happening. It was disastrous, and I do truly feel your anger and pain.

That you got a referral to another agent, I would say, is a brilliant result to an otherwise wretched bit of news. Very decent of that lady to do that, all things considered.

And yes, I'm also looking forward to reading this book sometime in the future.

Last, would love to come to the Horror Day festivities at Fantastic Planet, but it's a Friday, and I'm stuck with no transport. If such things were organised on a Saturday, on the other hand... :)

Simon Haynes said...

First, this isn't going to help a lot but I queried one agent in 2001 who still hasn't bothered to reply. There's a publisher I queried around the same time who hasn't replied yet, either. For all I know the anthrax scare around that time swallowed both submissions.
Second, according to Miss Snark there's no need to query agents one at a time. Just send out a dozen queries and see what happens. If they ask for a full AND an exclusive reading, agree a time limit with them (e.g. three weeks) rather than leaving it open-ended, and if any other requests for fulls come in you can let them know another agency has it until (date).
It's not the simultanous queries they mind, they just don't want to request & read a whole manuscript when you've already signed with someone else.
Check their guidelines before doing this, obviously.
Here's a link to one of her posts on the subject. Her blog is required daily reading, including the recent crapometer where she analysed 100 query letters and sample pages.
(In case you've never heard of Miss Snark, she's a NY agent. Blogs anonymously, full of inside info.)

Anonymous said...

I'd second the recommendation of Miss Snark as a source of agent demystification. She has a healthy respect for writers, and the writer-agent-publisher dynamic, and an entertaining disrespect for the pool of "nitwits" who ask the same questions over and over.

Lee Battersby said...

I'll check her out. Thanks guys.

Still, I have to retain some sense of hope regarding the industry, or else I'll just give up on the spot. Everything else is hard enough...

KarenEMiller said...

Well, damn. Very sorry to hear this. OTOH, this frees you up to find a good agent, one who loves your work and wil fight you. That agent is out there, all you have to do is find them.

Good luck!!!!!

KarenEMiller said...

Er ... my brain checked out. I didn't preview.

Naturally I meant to say Who will fight for you.


Really. I did. I swear.

I'm going to bed now.