Pub Rants

Update On The Handwritten Manuscript

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STATUS: TGIF! I actually had hoped to work on some queries today and it didn’t quite happen. I imagine I’ll tackle some this weekend. I have to work on two client edits as well so I’ll let you know on Monday how much I actually accomplish. It’s like my eyes being bigger than my stomach. I always put more food on the plate than I can eat and I always think I will accomplish more than I actually do.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? JUST LIKE HEAVEN by The Cure

You will all be relieved to know that that the writer of the handwritten manuscript has indeed gotten in touch with us. This person’s email to us was a little incomprehensible as he described many things in his letter but didn’t actually answer our question about whether we could recycle it or whether he wanted to send postage for its return.

Sara will persevere!

But rest assured, we did not recycle a writer’s only copy. And although I don’t believe that there are too many heartless agents out there, maybe we rebalanced the karma in the world of cold-hearted agenting by going the extra distance.

And in a totally unrelated segue, if you want to check out a recent interview with moi, here’s a link.

19 Responses

  1. Lisa Iriarte said:

    Hello Agent Kristen,

    I enjoyed the interview and your blog. As an aspiring writer, the prospect of sitting down with an agent is very unnerving, and with my novel in the final stages of revision, I’m getting close to that point in the process. Reading your blog reminds me that agents are human beings too. It was nice to see you go the extra mile for the writer of the handwritten manuscript. I’ll be keeping episodes like that one in mind when I go to my first pitch session. And on that note, since you are based in Denver, will you be attending WorldCon?

    Lisa Iriarte

  2. Sher-may said:

    I think what you’re doing for the owner of the handwritten manuscript is really decent and kind.

    “Proof that the Publishing World Has a Heart” 🙂

  3. Julie Weathers said:

    Kristen, I am happy to see you are persevering on the handwritten manuscript. Now I am curious about what is in the story and if he/she will have someone type it for them and submit it properly.

    I believe all of you have, indeed, earned a few stars in your crowns.

    I read your interview. It was very interesting, as I knew it would be. My WIP will be ready to submit before the Surrey conference, but I’ve decided to wait until afterwards to start the query process. They have some good workshops on the query letter and I think it will be worth the wait if I learn to nail this pitch paragraph.

    Disappointed to see you won’t be there this year, by the way.

    “The trick is getting young people excited to read so you have to allow them to read what they want—even if it’s not on an “approved” list. If a young person wants to read a comic book or a graphic novel, let them do it. If a young person is falling behind in reading class, let him or her choose the book to read so reading can become exciting again.”

    Amen. I despaired of my middle son ever loving to read until I bought him some used Louis L’Amour books. He became a voracious reader after that. I was happy to buy everything I could get my hands on for him.

    My youngest son absolutely hated to read until we changed schools and he found a wonderful teacher who instilled a love of reading. I will not go into my opinion of his former teacher.

    When I did prison ministry, I sent in as many books as possible. I even searched out easy readers for those who had difficulty reading. Invariably, I would get back letters about how the books had been passed around so much they were literally falling apart and prisoners were reduced to passing around bundles of loose pages.

    My youngest son will be going to Iraq this summer and I plan on getting as many books bought and autographed at Surrey as possible to ship to the unit. I’m sure they will get passed around much as the prisoners did.

    Reading is so very, very important.

    Ah, well, another mini-novel from me. What I meant to say was, good interview!

  4. karen wester newton said:

    Nice interview, especially because you talk about how you blog separately from how you “agent.” And that’s a great picture posted with it. If that was the headshot you blogged about having done, it was worth the time.

  5. Just_Me said:

    I wonder if it would be unethical to slip a list of good psychologists into the box with the manuscript? Or maybe the author was incoherent with joy that any agent at all contacted them?

  6. JES said:

    Awwww… No matter what the outcome, I love this story about the handwritten mailed-for-$32 MS. You did good.

    In a way, the whole thing reminds me of that book, what is it… yeah: JOE GOULD’S SECRET.

    One hopes that you will not now be cursed with a 30-year agent’s block!

  7. Anonymous said:

    I can’t believe I’m about to write this but I volunteer to type his manuscript for him. I have this vision that the handwritten text is actually a memoir about a man’s final days with his wife of 50 years. I imagine that the book is about their great love affair and that getting it published is his final tribute to her memory and their life together.

    It would serve me right if ended up being science fiction. No good deed goes unpunished. Right?


  8. Anonymous said:

    Dear Ms. Nelson,

    I have a question. If an author queried you, and you want to become exclusive yet the first phone call isn’t picked up, would the offer still hold or would irritation be a huge ordeal?


  9. Inspire said:

    I think it is kind of you to have gone the extra mile for this writer. Who knows what ‘his story’ is, what kind of situation he may be in. I think we are all curious and sensing there is some heartbreak involved.

  10. Anonymous said:

    Handwritten manuscript. Rambling response to your simple query to him. I am afraid.

    Kristin, you are an angel for taking the time to contact this person regarding this work, however, from what you are telling us, I suspect they “just don’t get it” and probably never will. There is a serious disconnect in there somewhere. I think counselling, as suggested above, is mandated. I also doubt that typing the thing up would help.


  11. Jill Elaine Hughes said:

    Many famous (and contemporary) authors do write longhand (most famous example: J.K. Rowling; _The Confederacy of Dunces_ was written on yellow legal pads and submitted posthumously to an editor by the dead author’s mother—it went on to win The Pulitzer Prize). So the fact the book is written longhand doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, just that the author is sort of industry-clueless. Handwritten first drafts are still done, even by the young. (Example: I’m a Gen X-er and until only about eight years ago, I wrote all my first drafts out longhand). But there’s no excuse for not typing it up before sending to an agent. Even if you don’t have a computer, electric typewriters are easy to come by—and many of them even have primitive spellcheck. Some agents/publishers do still accept typewritten manuscripts. Perhaps this person could work on a typewriter if he/she is terrified of computers (like my grandparents are, for example).

    Kristin, you are truly one of the rare gems in the publishing biz. God bless your Midwestern compassion for returning this book to its tender-hearted author. My own agent (God bless her, too) probably would have tossed it in the incinerator.

  12. Just_Me said:

    Trina~ That’s awful thing to say… I’d much rather read the sci-fi. But my experience with helping people edit and type up their hand written work is that their handwriting is hard to read, their spelling awful, and generally it’s typical rough draft grammer at best.

    Computers are available and if the author wants to get the novel together I’m sure s/he can find a library or some other place with available computers and type it up.

  13. Anonymous said:

    This reminds me of the time a talk radio station allowed local politicians to call in right before an election, to give short spiels about themselves. One guy who called in was excited about this opportunity for free publicity, but as he went on and on, the hosts couldn’t get him to say his name. They finally had to hang up on him for a commercial break.

    Mark in the Seattle area