You don't want jarbaby to go insane do you?

I didn’t think so.

I very desperately need advice from anybody who is a:

  1. published author
  2. author who deals with literary agents
  3. literary agent
  4. omniscient, ubiquitous god
  5. all of the above.

I have written a novel. It is a good novel. You have heard about it before. I have yammered about it on these various boards in various forums. Finally: It is finished, (I cried), and I have been shopping it around for two and a half years. I had one agent IN THE BAG and then she decided it would probably be too hard to market, ok fine, start over. Start over with a vengeance… A second agent who looked at the full manuscript said it was ‘fascinating’ but would take too much work to perfect it and she didn’t have time. (I later found out that she basically had a nervous breakdown and quit the business), so that’s not really my fault.

Now it is in the hands of a third agent, who asked for it on the Friday before Memorial Day. I promptly mailed it out and heard nothing for a month. So I called on July 6th and asked if she’d received it and if all was going well (very polite, not pushy) and she said that she indeed had it and would most likely read it within the next week. Great! I said, no problem. I don’t want to be a pest, just curious. She seemed very casual and understanding.

So here we are, on August 10th. And I’ve heard nothing. I wouldn’t care except that she asked for an ‘exclusive’ look at it, which means all my other mailings to other publishers and agents are on hold.

What do I do? Call again? Sit around and tear my hair out? Start mailing stuff to other people? Agents are volatile breed, I read an interview with a literary agent on and she basically said “if you’re an aspiring author always calling to check on your manuscript…I will throw it away”. So I don’t want to anger her.

Any advice?



She’s been sitting on it since Memorial Day? I’d say 3 months is a reasonable amount of time to hear something from her. Even a, “Just wanted to let you know I still haven’t had time to read your novel” letter would be something. Were I you, I’d send her a nice letter saying “You asked for exclusive privileges which I was happy to give you. However, several months have passed and I have not heard from you. Therefore, as of September 1st, I will be mailing the manuscript to other agents.”

If it’s a great book, I don’t care how many times you call, they’ll want to market it.

Good luck!


I’m not on your list, but I have had articles published, have written book reviews for newspapers, have been working on novels and short stories for more years than I want to say, and have heard discussions over this very point.

All that, just by way of seconding PunditLisa’s advice. Drop her a postcard giving her time to call you back, then move on.

And I hope you’re already into your next book. That’ll get you sharper and keep you from fretting over this one.

Keep up your chin, kid.

Or you could go this route to publishing success:

  1. Become President of the United States of America.

  2. Piss off a bunch of Republicans.

  3. Sleep with an intern, male or female, your choice.

  4. Really piss off a bunch of Republicans when they can’t throw you out of office on your ass.

  5. Rent an office in Harlem.

  6. Wait for publishing houses to offer you 10 frigging million dollars for your memoirs.

See, it’s simple, really.

Good luck.

Oh, and can I be your intern?

And what was up with that “Cock Tease” label you had, anyway? I don’t get it.

I’ll see if I have any spare vibes after thinking good thoughts about my wife’s novel-shopping efforts. Good luck!

Ugh. The way writers are treated should be against the law. They need us, dammit. Or they wouldn’t have anything to sell!

I, too, have suffered, waiting for some lame joker to get around to letting me know if they’ve thought about thinking about it. Ugh.

I have no good advice. But at a book signing not too long ago, I asked the author (whose name I cannot recall) how many times his manuscript for the book was rejected before he finally go it published, and he said 26. Twenty-six times.

It was really enlightening. I would have likely given up after 6 times, much less 26.

But I know you will be published. Just from reading your posts. When the book comes out, I’d like to read it.

Sure it’s not your fault Jarbaby. The poor lady probably read your book and saw phrases like you’re famous for in the Pit and she had to leave for medical reasons. :smiley:

I don’t have any useful advice on getting published, but when you do, post a link to the book at Amazon and I’ll buy a copy.

Sorry but I do not meet any of your standards.
But good luck anyway!

I’m actually thinking of starting a scrap book of all the rejection letters I’ve gotten. Believe me it’s way past 26 (that’s publishers and agents combined).

My personal favorite was “I think that by passing on your book, I may be passing up a good thing, but I’m going to do it anyway!”

Yay! That’s smart!


douglips: whoever hacked the board a few days ago gave custom labels to a number of posters. Some of them were kinda amusing, others of them were genuinely offensive. I’m sure those that received particularly unfortunate labels would appreciate it if we let it go at that. I think jarbaby would count herself in that group.

jarbabyj, [url=]this woman[/ur] was told that no one would read her book “even if Princess Di rode down the street topless on a unicycle giving copies away.”

But somehow she got published. Which is both frightening and encouraging, somehow.

I second PunditLisa’s advice, based on common sense and not any knowledge of the book publishing world. When I get my novel finished you and I can open a rejection-letter museum or something. I like PL’s inclusion of specific dates - If I haven’t heard from you by ___, I will send copies, etc.

Good luck.


Do you have to use an agent at all? Is it possible to market a novel directly to a publisher?

I can and do market to publishers directly. But a lot of the bigger publishing houses won’t accept manuscripts or even query letters from unrepresented authors. You have to go through an agent.

I guess I’ll write her a note. I just don’t want to blow my big chance by annoying the one person who’s shown interest in a year.