The Big Nudge…

Even though I’ve been writing since 2007 I’m still kind of a newbie to the business side of writing. I couldn’t name to big six if you put a gun to my head. I know nothing about publishing or marketing because at this time in my life I am focused on becoming a better writer. When NY Times Best Selling author, Jennifer Ashley visted our blog she said she didn’t get bogged down with all the extraneous stuff. That she wrote the best books she could and that’s what kept people coming back. If you’re a great writer I firmly believe readers will keep coming back.

The problem is how to get them in the first place.

I know there are many options out there for writers. Self publishing. E publishing. Small press. Blah Blah Blah… But for me, I want to go traditional. Why? Because my grandmother has no idea how to work a Kindle. So my mother can brag to all her friends. Because seeing my book at Wal-Mart, along with the everyday low, low prices will cause me to float to the moon. There are dozens of reasons and not all of them are so self-centered. Reasons that every writer has when they first pick up a pen.

No kindle for grandma!

So how does one go the traditional route? Get an agent.

Here’s a brief history.

I queried about a fifteen agents for my first hot mess 130,000 word manuscript and got absolutely nowhere. When I first sent those queries out I thought that my work was brilliant and that it would only take a few letters before I was signed. Looking back now I realize how wrong I was. With my second manuscript I only queried three agents knowing that rejection was in my future because the work simply wasn’t good enough. So I took a long break from trying to get published and wrote a practice novel( Everybody should write a practice novel), discovered what my weaknesses as a writer were and tried to fix them. Fast forward to 2012 and hey what do you know, apparently my writing did get better. I’ve gotten requests, full requests, partial requests that turned into fulls and even personalized rejection letters from agents who are non responders.

Of course along with them I’ve gotten more form rejections than I’ve got fingers and toes but that is apart of the game isn’t it. I have yet to receive the big R on any of the fulls I sent out yet and am waiting with boulder sized knots in my tummy. One agent has had my work since late December, another since mid January and the last for a couple of weeks. And yes I am checking my email like a crazy chick. Waiting is the hardest part. Rejections are easy. Because one can simply move on. I can’t move on and spend more time than I should wondering what the status of my work is.

To pass the time (and avoid my WIP) I check QUERYTRACKER. One can find out a lot about perspective agents on this site, especially if you look in the comment section. This is where I learned about the NUDGE. What’s a nudge you ask? It’s when you send an email to an agent inquiring about the status of your work. As a newbie I didn’t know this was at all acceptable and depending on who you talk to it isn’t.

There’s one writer on this site who has had 515 rejections on one manuscript. OUCH! And while I know nothing about what this person writes I know a lot about how they query. And personally I think it’s equivalent to query harassment. In the short time I’ve been on the site I’ve seen a pattern. Query. Two weeks later sends a nudge. Usually gets a rejection or no response and then queries again a month later the exact same manuscript. This writer even does this to agents who are non responders. Isn’t the definition of insanity doing to same thing over and expecting different results? And isn’t that just being a big pain in the behind?

I know agents receive a ton of queries but, they must remember some of them, especially the ones they get over and over again. One agent refered to people who do this as query spammers and said that they delete their queries without even opening. And that had me wondering if there was some sort of querier blacklist. One that agents pass around to each other at conferences warning each other not to work with certain writers who have certain mental issues.

It’s highly unlikely I know, but for me it all boils down to simple etiquette. An agent is somebody you want to have a good working relationship with. So wouldn’t it be in one’s best interest to act professionally at all times? I mean you would go for a job interview, call the company about the interview, get rejected and apply for the same job again. I should hope not.

Here’s my personal take on when to nudge.

On a query…. Never. Double never on non responding agents. If they really want your work they’ll get back to you.

On a partial… 3 months. It such a looooong time to wait but agents get busy. They have other clients, conferences, a life outside of your writing. Be patient.

On a full…. 6 months. I know that is a super painful amount of time but some agents give detailed feedback on what the strengths and weaknesses on your novel are. Some just need time to think about taking you on as a client. The business is hard these days and each new client is a risk and annoying them with nudge could sway them and not in your favor.

But don’t just take my word on it. Do your own homework. Check out their websites. Stalk their twitter feed. Check out Absolute Write. Some of them even say do not contact me about the status of your work, and gosh darn it they mean it. And when you do nudge be polite. Your mother would want it that way.

Your turn to share! Have you ever had any experience with the nudge? Wanna tell us about it. Do you think it’s okay? Would you do it? Any and all comments are welcome.

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10 thoughts on “The Big Nudge…”

  1. I’m so glad that you know your dream and know the path you want to take, traditional. Recently I signed with my agent and couldn’t be happier. I’m self-published and small press published, but my ultimate dream is to do it all, which includes traditional.
    When I was sending out the dreadful query, I would “nudge” the agent a month out. Luckily, my agent emailed me that day and requested the full and a couple weeks later offered representation.
    One thing I’d like to add, don’t jump at the first offer if you don’t feel like that agent will champion your career. It was important for me to publish in all areas which meant that my agent needed to support me. Some agents don’t want their authors to self publish. But I sold 35k ebooks in five months being self-published and I won’t give that up. They work for you. Not the other way around. In the end, you pay their paycheck.
    http://tonyakappes.blogspot.com/2012/03/yes-im-hybrid.html

    1. I happy that you got an agent. I think you were in a bit of a different place that most queriers. You have the sales to back you up which most of us don’t.

  2. And just to confirm…agents do talk to each other about the harassers. At the RWA conference a few years back I sat in a Q& A session, and they admitted that.

  3. Great advice, Jamie. This business takes a lot of patience and a lot of intestinal fortitude to keep going back for more when those rejections start pouring in. The long wait time was one of the reasons I chose to self-publish. Not only do you have to wait for responses to queries, but then to partials, and then again to full submissions. It can take years to find an agent, for the agent to then find a publisher, and then another year or more to get your book on those Wal-mart shelves. You’re young enough to wait it out. Me…not so much:-)

  4. Patience, patience, patience. Usually at the agent’s website they will tell you roughly how long it will take for them to get back to you. I think you are on target with your nudge schedule. Waiting is the worst part, but it is part of the process. Hang in there. We are all anxious to read your work.

    1. Unfortunately all three of the agents that requested from me have given me no inkling about how long they will take.

  5. Woe is me, I am too old to get that many rejections. Looks like I have to think about self pub. At least to get it out there. We’ll see. I am still trying to get 100,000 words. It sure takes time. Thanks for the info Jamie. My eyebrows were raised looking at those numbers.

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