How to stress over an agent request

Today, I thought I’d write an educational post by letting you in on my process of sending off a full manuscript. As I said in my previous post, when I received an agent’s recent email, I was too sick to do anything about it. But in all those hours staggering from bed or sofa to the bathroom and back, I had time to think about it.

It had been 99 days (according to QueryTracker) since I’d queried this agent, and I had written her off as a “no response means no” type. I had since stopped sending out queries because I had been hit with a whale of indecision over the opening chapter, so her request took me by surprise. Nevertheless, there was no question I would take the opportunity to submit. Here’s the tale.

On Monday, I open the file to check the formatting and find two notes at the top. One I understand and edit accordingly, the other I don’t understand. It simply says “Leakey, paleoanthropologist” and though I do have one of the characters mention him, I don’t know why I wrote that. I check to make sure I haven’t misspelled his name, but eventually ignore the notation.

Still, I have the problem of a new first chapter I’m working on. My query to this agent had included the first ten pages of my book and the synopsis. After sharing my dilemma with you, I decide to leave the first chapter as she saw it. I will still finish up the editing of that new beginning, if only because I enjoyed writing it.

Okay, cover page attached, standard formatting applied … the file is ready to send. Ah-ha,  I have to attach it to an email, but do I send it as .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .pdf? And do I start a new message, or reply to her reply to my query letter? I decide to reply. I mean, in the three intervening days she might have totally forgotten she requested my manuscript, so seeing her response to me right there in the email will assure her I’m not trying to pull a fast one. Right?

Oh, but what to say? This virus seems to have caused PARA (previous agent reply amnesia.) I don’t want to sound stupid, desperate, or stiff and humorless, but I also don’t want to sound too chummy, or not serious about my career. I want to come off smart, confident, pleasant, and easy to work with. I think I accomplish one or two of those. Or maybe not. Gosh, what if I came across desperate and too chummy? Or too serious … and stupid? *whimper*

Now, I’m faced with another crisis—two actually—the salutation and closing. She addressed me as “Ms. Lewis,” but signed off with her first name. Does that mean I should address her that way? And she used “All the best” which is not a way I usually close, and besides, I don’t want to copy her. Sincerely? Too formal. Have a nice day? Cliche. L8R? Get real. Aaarrgghh!

In the end, I go with first names, but a serious tone in my brief message. Even though I haven’t rushed my response, I hesitate before I hit the send button, sure that I’ve messed up somehow, and she’ll wonder why on earth she ever asked to read another word of my book. It could happen. Seriously.

(And if you wonder why I’m not saying how I closed the message, it’s because I’ve forgotten what I settled on and can’t bring myself to look. I just know I’ll see a stupid typo.)

Yes, indeed, I can manage to stress even when something good happens with my writing! If you think I made any mistakes in my response, please don’t tell me. I’ll just agonize over it.

😀 🙂 😉

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39 thoughts on “How to stress over an agent request

  1. I also had a fellow student complain that our teacher was teaching our class to much like college. All I wanted to say to her was this. Didn’t you read the sign of the side of the building?

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  2. Linda, that was hilarious. So glad you can see the lighter side. There’s nothing like a writer for getting tied up in knots about the littlest details.

    Good luck with the sub!

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  3. I still remember taking so long with my query, synopsis, and first fifty pages that when I sent it, along with my e-mail cover letter, I was so nervous I forgot to click spell check on the cover letter. It took hours later and a lot of courage to read that cover letter after the fact.

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