Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Monday, June 9, 2008

Persistence or Pestiness?

You may recall back in April I wrote a SQUEE post about a request for partial I received. Now it's been two months without a word and I'm wondering if this agent even received the email I sent her.

Oh, I know some agents take months on partials, and I'm willing to wait if I have to. But see, here's the thing... On a popular writerly forum, several people talk about her quick lead times. It seems that usually this particular person usually responds to a partial in 4-6 weeks. And I'm at 2 months.

Last year... or was it the year before?... I got a request for partial on Caldera from an agent with a stated 4 month lead time. I was patient. I waited. The four months went by with no word and I began to wonder if my partial disappeared into whatever black hole the USPS uses to lighten their bags. (Ever watch Seinfeld? Newman stowed mail in a storage garage so he wouldn't have to carry it.) After five months, I sent said agent a polite nudge via email and within a week, my SASE came back with a rejection in it.

My first thought was that somehow my submission materials got lost in a stack somewhere, and the nudge prompted her to dig out my SASE for the rejection that was waiting all along. My second thought was that my nudge pissed her off. That somehow she was sitting on the fence about my manuscript and my email pushed her over to the rejection side. (I mean, who wants to work with a pest?)

This morning I sent a polite nudge to the agent who requested a partial on RTL. We'll see what happens from this one.

The question in my mind, even as I was hitting the SEND button, is when does persistence cross the line into pestiness? If an agent has a stated lead time of 4 months, is it appropriate to send a nudge after 5 months? If an agent has no stated lead time, but other writers are saying she's gotten back to them in 4-6 weeks, is sending a note after 2 months being pesty?

Pardon me while I slip into the paranoia phase of my writing life. Yes, I know I should just chill out, but the thought of my stuff being lost somewhere in cyberspace makes it hard to relax.

PS. If you haven't seen it yet, Jessica Faust wrote a blog post about this very thing on Friday: The Art of Persistence. Scoot on over and check it out.



JenWriter said...

Yeah, that's a tough one. I think a polite nudge shouldn't sent someone who really loves your work over the edge to rejection. Two months doesn't seem pesty to me.

I've got fingers crossed for you!

Kristen Painter said...

Send the nudge. Don't wait. Seriously.

B.E. Sanderson said...

I sent the nudge this morning, and got a prompt reply. Things have been hectic, and she'll try to get to me by the end of the week. Yay! =o)

Travis Erwin said...

I've had that same experience but you can't wait forever so I try to give them about 30% beyond their stated or normal response time and then I nudge.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I think a polite nudge, at a reasonable interval after their stated wait time, is perfectly acceptable. I can't see how that makes you a pest - and I can't believe it would make the difference between being taken on and not being taken on. Fingers crossed for a positive response from your current nudgee!