Pub Rants

How I Submit

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STATUS: Working on client manuscripts this evening. Will have to switch music to something softer for concentration.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ARE YOU GONNA BE MY GIRL by JET

I have a very simple agent policy. It goes like this. If I were an author, what would I want to know about my project and submission?

Well, I’m a control freak. That means I’d want to know everything. So that’s what my authors get—whether they like it or not!

Now every agent does it differently but when I’m putting a project on submission, here’s what I do.

1. Once the project is in the hands of all the editors, I send the author the editor submission list. (Now I do have to ‘fess up here that if I add an editor to the submit list at a later time, I often forget to tell the author of the addition. Not because I’m withholding the info but just because I forget to let them know. The author will often tell me when I forward the response that they didn’t realize that editor was looking at it. Then there is an oops moment. It was simply my bad. I probably thought I had told the author and hadn’t.)

2. When a response comes in (and it’s almost always by email these days), I immediately forward to the client. I don’t sugar coat either. I send the exact response we received. Now I often include a note if I feel like there should be some softening of the blow (so to speak). Or encouraging words if the submission is looking bleak or it has been a hard push. But if I were an author, I’d want to know exactly what was said. So, that’s what the clients get. Every once in a blue moon, an editor will mail a response letter. How quaint! If that happens, we scan the letter to PDF and email to the client. Also, some editors like to call—even if they are passing. If that happens, I take notes and then I forward my notes by email to the client. They aren’t escaping the response gosh darn.

3. Updates. I actually don’t really give any update unless the author emails and asks if I’ve heard anything. Then I’m happy to respond. Basically I just don’t remember to email the client to say that nothing has happened so far.

4. If we end up having to do several rounds of the submit (they do go in waves), then I simply follow this same process all over again.

5. I also share positive responses—as in an editor is seriously considering the work. Mostly that’s just me emailing the author and saying “not to get your hopes up too high as they can still pass, this editor is liking the read so far.” Have I had editors do that and then pass? You bet. That’s why I always caution the client. I realize that my effort to not raise hopes is futile (who can help getting excited by an editor’s interest?) but if I were that author, I’d want to know, even if there is pain later because the editor passed, or couldn’t get in-house support (which happens) or what have you.

Pretty basic but that’s what I do.

25 Responses

  1. MeganRebekah said:

    I got chills, hoping to have this experience one day soon.
    I am a bit of a control freak too, so I understand the need to know everything that goes on.

    As always, thanks for sharing this insight!

  2. Tracy said:

    Thanks for sharing that. I’m not a control freak by any means, but when you send your baby out into the publishing world, it’s natural to want to know as much as possible about what others are saying – good, bad, or otherwise. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m nosy enough to want to know exactly what’s going on with my submission!

  3. Madison said:

    Thanks for posting this. Sometimes authors forget that agents are people, busy ones at that, and they simply forget to say something, just like the rest of the world. Thank you for doing your job so well and helping us hopefuls out here. 🙂

  4. David said:


    First of all, I wanted to thank you dearly for this blog. You make the carrot of success tangible while not holding the stick too far for us to have a chance at catching it. Plus, you’re very personable in person. We really do appreciate that!

    In any case, it was in reading this ‘peek into the agenting’ life that a question arose for me. If you have previously rejected a partial from an author, and they later submit a different project to you, would it be good or bad to mention that in the second submission?

  5. attackfish said:

    Thank you for sharing this Your preferences sound a lot like mine. I feel the same way about wanting to know what’s going on.

  6. Ellen said:

    Thanks for this post. It’s good to know I’m not the only control freak out there! I would love this level of input from any agent I’m ever luck enough to have. If I don’t get it, though, at least I have the comfort of knowing I’m not the only one who wants it!

  7. Anonymous said:

    See, it seems so simple, doesn’t it? I wonder why its such a chore for other agents (including my agent)?

    Certain agents out there, I swear, react as if you are asking them for a kidney, when you ask if they’ve heard back from any subs, since, you know, it’s been six months…

  8. Anonymous said:

    How long do you wait to nudge editors that haven’t yet responded? What is the norm? Two months, three months?

    I’ve emailed an agent after 6 mo. of no word to ask and had her say, Oh, yeah, thanks for that reminder, I’ll see if they’ve finished it yet.

    I was stunned. Like, you mean you haven’t nudged them YET? Is it the author’s responsiblity to tell an agent to nudge?

  9. Eric said:

    Thanks for this information. The more I learn about this industry, the more excited I am to be part of it – even if there is a bit of nervousness as well. I’m just glad there are people out here like you helping us newbies learn the ropes.

  10. magolla said:

    You have again proven to me why I want you as an agent. I love efficiency and organization. You tell it like it is, but in a good reality check kind of way.
    And even if you are never my agent, I know what to look for in an agent when I start seeking representation for my new novel.

  11. Stephanie said:

    Thank you for this!!! I absolutely want to be a part of every step of the process!!

    Great song BTW…I take dance classes and we used this song for our routine last year!! Very fun!!

  12. HeatherM said:

    You must have a shirt with a big S on it because you are definately Superagent! Sometimes it’s the little things like this kind of communication that keeps us writers sane. To us, it’s not such a little thing and agents like you who embrace it are diamonds!

  13. susiej said:

    Nodding in agreement with most of the other comments- this post is thrilling, informative and wow, you are good. Hope I’ll be able to measure up someday.

  14. Anonymous said:

    This is 110% what I want my agent to do. Unfortunately, he doesn’t, and I do have to nudge him to nudge, and ask if he’s sent the project out, and, and, and…

    Sigh. I wish Kristin’s methods were normative, but I’m afraid agents’ habits have the usual degree of variation.

  15. Beth said:

    When my time comes for getting an agent, I hope he or she is as thorough and open as you, Kristin.

  16. Susan Wilbanks said:

    A question, either for other readers or possibly for Kristin to address in a future entry: Is it reasonable of me to want to discuss which editors/publishers my manuscript is going to *before* it’s sent out, or is that being too much of a control freak?

    I know, the agent is the expert. But if I, say, had a conversation with an editor at a conference and felt like he or she would really connect with my work (or, conversely, that they’re looking for the opposite of what I write), I’d like to be able to offer that information to my agent and have it considered as she makes her submission list.

  17. annerallen said:

    I’m happy to read that some agents still follow this protocol. My former agent couldn’t sell my ms. but, like Kristin, she kindly kept me in the loop.

    The agent who identified herself as “Laurie” in Wednesday’s post seemed to say things have changed, and authors are no longer entitled to know the names of editors who have seen their work.

    Laurie’s attitude seemed to be that authors are a dimwitted sub-species undeserving of information about their own careers. I found it chilling in the extreme, and a good argument for self-representation or even self-publishing.

    Thanks for being classier than that, Kristin. It’s not about control. It’s about respect.

  18. Anonymous said:

    Great post Kristin.

    Do you share the pitch letter with the client prior to submission?