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View Full Version : Made idiot mistake in query; how do I explain it to interested agent?


KCathy
08-02-2008, 06:51 AM
I've sent out 39 queries on this book, and gotten five requests for a full (three of which ended in rejection and two that are pending). I was feeling particularly down about the project because it's getting hard to find agents whose past projects have similarities to mine that I can highlight in a query. That's the only way I can explain making an idiot mistake that has always flabbergasted me when I've heard of others making it.

I addressed the query's greeting to the last agent I had sent it to. For some reason utterly beyond my comprehension, this new agent wants to look at it anyway. In her place, I would have assumed the letter-writer was a twit and sent a particularly frigid rejection. Instead, I got:

"Catherine: I'd be happy to take a look at a proposal, but I don't think the book is going to work if it's 200,000 words long--it needs to be about half that length. Is that possible?
--(Super Cool Agent's First Name)
(P.S. Who is Ms. -----?)"

I'm the psycho who rechecks the punctuation every time I send out a query to make sure some crazed computer fairy didn't tinker with the cut-and-paste function and remove a comma. I've never come close to a goof of this magnitude.

So, what the heck do I say to the P.S.?

P.S. Of course I won't mind making it half that length, if you're wondering. I'd throw in my eyeteeth to sweeten the deal at this point if I thought it would help.

StoryG27
08-02-2008, 06:55 AM
I've sent out 39 queries on this book, and gotten five requests for a full (three of which ended in rejection and two that are pending). I was feeling particularly down about the project because it's getting hard to find agents whose past projects have similarities to mine that I can highlight in a query. That's the only way I can explain making an idiot mistake that has always flabbergasted me when I've heard of others making it.

I addressed the query's greeting to the last agent I had sent it to. For some reason utterly beyond my comprehension, this new agent wants to look at it anyway. In her place, I would have assumed the letter-writer was a twit and sent a particularly frigid rejection. Instead, I got:

"Catherine: I'd be happy to take a look at a proposal, but I don't think the book is going to work if it's 200,000 words long--it needs to be about half that length. Is that possible?
--(Super Cool Agent's First Name)
(P.S. Who is Ms. -----?)"

I'm the psycho who rechecks the punctuation every time I send out a query to make sure some crazed computer fairy didn't tinker with the cut-and-paste function and remove a comma. I've never come close to a goof of this magnitude.

So, what the heck do I say to the P.S.?

P.S. Of course I won't mind making it half that length, if you're wondering. I'd throw in my eyeteeth to sweeten the deal at this point if I thought it would help.


LOL! This agent has a sense of humor, wonderful.

Mrs. Dashes?

Jenifer
08-02-2008, 06:56 AM
Send cookies! :D

Honestly, I don't think you have much to worry about- she's being very cool about it, no need to dwell on the goof! Just apologize and move on with confidence! The two of you can giggle about it when she's YOUR agent. You can always blame it on those crazed computer fairies. ;)

Williebee
08-02-2008, 07:12 AM
I'm with Jen and Storygirl.

Smile about it. Most important, be up front about it. Everybody plays the fool sometimes. (Wait, do you hear music?)

Congrats on making an inter-personal contact.

scope
08-02-2008, 07:31 AM
I imagine the agent knows you made an error and it's probably because you made multiple submissions. Fortunately, your story apparently intrigues her and she sees no reason to even mention the goof. You might want to send her an email thanking her for her response, telling her what you plan to do (re her suggestions), and briefly apologizing for the initial "addressing (name) error." She won't give a hoot about it.

KCathy
08-02-2008, 10:04 AM
Mrs. Dashes?

she sees no reason to even mention the goof.

I'm sorry; I didn't explain myself very well. The agent who wrote me didn't write "Ms. -----." I put dashes in this post to avoid naming names here. The agent who wrote me today was mentioning the goof by asking who it was.

I think you guys are right that she knows exactly what happened. I'll just say that I had approached another agent and accidentally copied the wrong name when I copied the pitch.

smoothseas
08-02-2008, 04:16 PM
Think of it as serendipity smiling on you.





FYI: Serendipity is kinda crazed, and sometimes has a warped sense of humor. But, she's kinda cool. She's actually one of the good fairies, ya know.

KCathy
08-02-2008, 08:05 PM
Hooray for Serendipity! Where I grew up in Louisiana, we call it lagniappe, one of my favorite words in any language.

Here's what I'll send back (after I've allowed it to percolate for a couple of hours and then gone back to check for mistakes, the way I usually do with email, grrrrr):

"Dear (agent's name omitted here),

"I'm so sorry for addressing your query to the wrong person. Ms. (different agent's name omitted here) is another agent whose former projects seemed to indicate the possibility of an interest in _My Birth Choice._ I'm grateful and frankly amazed that you were kind enough to request my proposal anyway--thank you and please forgive my--well, I was going to say faux pas, but I really mean my bone-headed goof.

"Deciding on a length for the book was difficult for me, and I'm happy to have an expert opinion. 100,000 words would be fine. Because my proposal and sample chapters will need some major revisions to make that work, however, may I take a couple of days to make some changes before sending it your way? If so, I can get it to your inbox by Tuesday. Are Word files attached to an email an acceptable format?

"Thank you again,
"Catherine"

willfulone
08-02-2008, 08:47 PM
That letter response sounds really good! Good luck - keeping my fingers crossed for you.

Christine

KCathy
08-02-2008, 09:22 PM
Oh oh oh! I just thought that I should probably say "indicated" instead of "seemed to indicate" so that I don't imply that I was rejected by agent's-name-omitted (hereafter "ANO"). I was right, for what it's worth. ANO asked for a full way back when. She rejected THAT, lol, but I was right about her past projects indicating the possibility of interest--at least initial interest.

Anyway, this is a good example of why I'm so careful to give myself think-time before blasting out emails.

Billingsgate
08-03-2008, 07:28 AM
I'm not sure why you should dwell so long on the apology. I think you further make a fool of yourself by doing so. The agent obviously understands what led to your initial goof, and obviously doesn't hold it against you, or there wouldn't have been any further contact. I'd totally never even mention it in your reply and let the subject drop. I doubt very much that your agent will demand an explanation or even really care. What you might do, to alleviate any doubt, is to simply state that, just to clarify, you are submitting the full manuscript to this agent exclusively. Quit apologizing. Your faux pas was not a big deal and certainly not worth resurrecting in the agent's memory.

Nakhlasmoke
08-03-2008, 12:08 PM
I'm not sure why you should dwell so long on the apology. I think you further make a fool of yourself by doing so. The agent obviously understands what led to your initial goof, and obviously doesn't hold it against you, or there wouldn't have been any further contact. I'd totally never even mention it in your reply and let the subject drop. I doubt very much that your agent will demand an explanation or even really care. What you might do, to alleviate any doubt, is to simply state that, just to clarify, you are submitting the full manuscript to this agent exclusively. Quit apologizing. Your faux pas was not a big deal and certainly not worth resurrecting in the agent's memory.

Completely agree. i think you're making a mountain out of a molehill.

Phot's Moll
08-03-2008, 12:57 PM
I'd reply to her e-mail and just add a brief explanation as a PS (as that's how she asked.) Something along the lines of 'Ms - - - was a typo. Very sorry about that. '

brc23
08-06-2008, 03:13 AM
I'm with them...before reading everyone else's comments I thought:

I would ignore it like it didn't happen. Stick to the work, which is obviously why she is writing you back.

The longer you dwell on a tiny mistake the more time you are NOT spending talking about what a great team you will make.

If you truly feel the need to mention it, do NOT lead with that in your response!!! Make it a P.S. like she did with you. ;)