Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Fire Alarm Approach

STATUS: It’s 7 o’clock at night and I’m trying to squeeze in this blog so I can leave the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? KID by The Pretenders

I just spent the last 4 hours with my accountant so my brain is mush.

Here’s what I want to say tonight though. Lots of authors are on chat loops. Normally this is a great thing; I encourage it.

But when rumors start to fly on those loops, it can create author panic that then translates into frantic emails to the agent. When that happens, that’s when I like to advise authors to send an email but take everything with a grain of salt and send a “not sure if you’ve heard the rumors but I know you like being in the loop so I’m sending what I’m hearing” email instead.

Works the same but without the fire alarm approach.

There may or may not be truth to the rumors and why be upset over something that might not be true? Trust me, when it’s proven to be true, your agent will be plenty upset and pissed off on your behalf.


13 Responses

  1. LIZ said:

    As a newbie, what type of rumors would cause panic like that? Rumors about the writers themselves? Or about publishers closing down?

    Just curious.

  2. Polenth said:

    I’m guessing recession panic might be a possibility. Whatever it was, I vote for sending out paper bags to everyone. Then they can wear them on their heads, like they do in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s as pointless as panicking, but much easier on the ears.

  3. claire said:

    it;s usually along the lines of your agent/publisher/editor is bankrupt/closing/relocating/dead

    and it’s usually rubbish. anything of any importance will be passed on to you. so no stress. and ignore the rumour mill

  4. Anonymous said:

    Hi, Thanks for your great blog. I have a question unrelated to this topic: Amazon.com has that “Breakthrough Author” contest happening with Penguin right now, and each semifinalist (more than 800 of them) received a review of their entire manuscript from Publisher’s Weekly. Would a decent PW review be worth mentioning (even briefly quoting) in a query letter to an agent? Thanks!

  5. Music Critic said:

    Maybe you should be listening to that 80’s cult classic RUMORS instead of KID on your iPod.

    Either way, the Pretneders are good, not great and this one isn;t their best. I give it a #7

  6. pjd said:

    Same thing happens in any business, especially when rumors involve compensation (“no bonuses this year!”), acquisition (“we’re going to be bought out by Enron!”) or similar issues (“the CEO is going to jail!”).

    It’s worthwhile traveling through life with a healthy stash of salt grains in your pocket. Listen, prepare, and brace for impact, but make sure to grab one of those grains whenever a rumor comes up.

    Good advice, but come on now… is it fair to post something so tantalizing without delivering on the goods? You’re such a tease.

  7. T L Thomas said:

    What a pleasant surprise I found when I stumbled upon your blog site and website! I have just begun the process of looking for an agent for my title and am surprised at how different your agency seems from others I’ve searched recently. The idea of an agent wanting to be with the writer from beginning to end is very refreshing! You seem to really care about your clientele, that’s nice! Keep up the good work!

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