About two weekends ago, I found myself—as I usually do on a Sunday—ensconced in my favorite chair reading manuscripts and proposals. I was engrossed in a novel which, despite its numerous structural problems, showed a lot of promise. As I might have mentioned on this blog once, or a hundred times, I’m not a speed reader, so if the fiction manuscript I’m reading is any good I can kiss a big chunk of my day goodbye.
After Jane and I discussed the pros and cons of this particular novel, we offered the author representation if she was willing to do some significant revising. (We’d had the book for about a week at this point.) The author promptly responded that she loved feedback and was not at all averse to reworking the manuscript but she had just accepted another agent’s offer. Fair enough, of course, and yet….
It bugged me that having plowed through the review process in near record time we never had a chance. It doubly bugged me because I could have spent a chunk of my Sunday hanging out with my husband and son, running errands, taking that nap I’ve been needing since 2005, going for a walk outside on one of the few decent weather days in what’s been an epically bad winter…you know, what normal people do on Sundays.
I love my job and I enjoy the “development” (reading, editing, brainstorming) part of it tremendously so I don’t generally feel sorry for my lack of Sundays. But, I also don’t like to waste my time.
This is the longwinded way of responding to those of you who ask about multiple submissions and the etiquette involved therein. Basically, I say common sense rules, folks. You should let agents know when you query them that the manuscript is out with others. And, if an offer comes in, you should give everyone who has your material the chance to finish their review. If the offer of representation is just too good to hold off on, then you should immediately contact the competing agents and tell them that the project is no longer available so that they can move on to the next thing in their piles.
In these days of electronic submissions, no one will get mad because you’ve gone to multiple agents (unless you do one of those mass e-mail things where everyone is listed; then all bets are off). But it would be doing us a kindness if you were to keep us in the loop as to the submission’s progress.
Does this sound right to you or do you guys hold the Darwinian view that it’s survival of the fittest out there and tough noogies if you aren’t fast enough? And, is there something you wish we’d do differently during the review process (and why)?