Feeling Like a Puppy Dog

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Jul 31 2007

One agent requested my full, offered suggestions for revisions which I completed in a week and a half, and then proceeded to sit on it for a year. Two follow-up emails were ignored, but the third was acknowledged by the assistant. A year later, I had the opportunity to meet her during an RWA chapter meeting. I arrived, sparklingly clean and with fresh breath. I was enthusiastic. I introduced myself and gave her a thank-you card. I could tell she couldn’t remember the story. I even paid money to do all of this networking. A week later, I received a form rejection.

I agree it’s important to network, but like Reid observed, on the writer’s end, how far do we pursue a relationship? Especially if we can’t meet in person for whatever reason, and follow-up emails to rejections are frowned upon (I’m referring to the personalized ones). I intend to query the agent again from the above scenario, but part of me feels like I’m making a little bit of a fool of myself, like I’m chasing after her like a little puppy dog.

In a recent post on Networking I came across this comment and it made me feel a little sad. I think in this case the author is chasing after the agent like a puppy dog.

The truth is that you can’t successfully network with every person you come across. In this case the agent clearly isn’t all that enthusiastic for the author’s work, and if I were the author, I would take the agent’s lack of enthusiasm, and respect, as a sign that they probably aren’t compatible.

I would only pursue the relationship as far as you think it’s worth your while. If this is clearly not an agent you feel you could work with, then I wouldn’t bother. I wouldn’t call the agent and tell her she’s an idiot, but I would just cross her off your own personal list. It’s obvious it’s not a good fit.

If, however, you’ve gotten a rejection that you liked and appreciated or comments that hit home, it can never hurt to send a nice thank-you or introduce yourself at a conference. It’s true, we might not remember your name or story title, but we might remember you after that nice introduction. Let’s put it this way, it can’t hurt.


4 responses to “Feeling Like a Puppy Dog”

  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This is a business relationship, not a sorority.

    If an agent is too rude to respond, then they shouldn’t be in the business — yes, we writers know that agents are all terribly, terribly overwhelmed with submissions; we get that — but this is a business.

    If an agent can’t be bothered with the time-consuming task of sticking a form rejection letter into an envelope after requesting a full and making editorial suggestions, then that agent should be your last choice and the last choice of every writer.

    To quote (loosely) Miss Snark: You’re better off with no agent than someone like this.

    If your writing was good enough to garner comments and suggestions for changes, then you should (and will) find an agent who deserves to have you as a client.

    Agents make their livings off of writers. There is never any reason to lick their boots. Polite and professional should be all that is required.

  2. Avatar Lauren J says:

    Assuming that purchasing a ticket to network will assure retention of an agent is probably not a great assumption.

    I agree wholeheartedly that this agent and this writer would not have fit together well.

  3. Avatar Lesley says:

    I agree, and why would you want someone who was unprofessional and impolite working for you in the first place? If they are disrespectful to you, then how are they going to act with the publishers you want to love and adore you and your work? I’d think even a masterpiece would be tainted if the agent wasn’t polite when they pitched it.

  4. Avatar Reid says:

    I can understand her point, though, sometimes any interest is good. When you’re stuck without a lot of direct contact with anyone from the publishing industry other than a ream of generic rejections, any interest can be like a beacon in the fog.

    Perhaps it’s like some other nautical literary simile, that’s just the first one that popped up.

    Anyway, I had an agent keep “The Great Texas Trailer Park Escape” for a year before finally passing. He just kept saying he was too busy, but he still wanted to look over it. I kept hanging on with him when I logically knew he wasn’t the right agent, based on his schedule.

    It’s sort of like a romantic relationship. If it’s been a while since you’ve had a date, even the worst guy at the bar starts to look good to you. You appreciate the interest, and you’re willing to overlook the fact that he’s a 300 pound alcoholic car salesman in a Hawaiian shirt.

    Not that I’m referring directly to any agents I’ve known.