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Thread: Dilemma

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    Dilemma

    An agent I had previously met asked me to send her my full ms. She in turn gave it to her assistant who later passed on it because he wasn't "enamored enough with the language" (you can read the whole story on this thread, http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11829 go to my 06-03-2005 posting).

    A few minutes ago, I received an email signed by the agent who asked me to send her the full ms (but writing the email from someone else's email account in her agency) asking me if I ever heard anything from the assistant she passed my manuscript on to and who no longer works for the agency.

    Now, should I tell her that no, I never heard from the guy so I can get a second shot at getting my ms read or should I be a good boy and say that I heard from him and passed on it? Maybe I shouldn't even be asking this question but you all know how difficult it is to get an agent these days. Thanks.
    Last edited by macandal; 09-21-2005 at 03:16 AM. Reason: clarity

  2. #2
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    I'm not qualified to give you any practical advice, macandal, - I leave that to others with experience of this type of situation - and it's not of course your place to pursue this particular thought of mine, but I wonder if the Agent has reasons for questioning whether this particular assistant was performing their duties correctly.
    Last edited by Bufty; 09-21-2005 at 02:45 AM.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  3. #3
    I think your best bet here is to be honest. The worst case scenario is that you tell her the assistant passed on it, and she says, "Oh, okay, well, best of luck to you, bye now." If that happens, you really haven't lost anything because she'd passed you on to the assistant anyway. On the other hand, she might say, "Well, I'm sorry to hear he wasn't interested, why not let me take a peek at it, hm?"

    If you lie, and say you never heard from him, it will bite you in the *** later, when she bumps into him at Starbucks, casually mentions your name, and he goes, "Her? Oh, I told her I wasn't enamored."

    Honesty really CAN be the best policy.

  4. #4
    Writer and Music Producer Vanessa's Avatar
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    I think you should be honest. You're early in your stages of connecting with an agent/assitant/publisher. If you lie now, it will come to light, which could somewhat tarnish your character, in their eyes. These folks all know eachother, regardless of whether the Assistant works there are not. And besides, that agent may have someone else they can pass the ms to.
    "As long as my mind speaks to my fingertips, the conversation is endless!" -Yeah I said it!


  5. #5
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Honest is the best policy.

    The author/agent relationship is based on trust. You expect your agent to tell you the truth, don't you?

  6. #6
    figuring it all out
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    Tell the truth. It's less confusing in the long term, because you tell the same story to everyone.

  7. #7
    The grad students did it NeuroFizz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James D. Macdonald
    Honest is the best policy.
    Or to state it more forcefully, dishonesty should never be an option. It has mouthparts that have a high affinity for one's backside.
    Last edited by NeuroFizz; 09-21-2005 at 07:02 PM.

  8. #8
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Is everyone crazy?! Lie, for godís sake! Do you think lying is only for politicians? Did she ever get back to you? the woman asks. Well, see, ah, Iíve had problems with my email, so I canít say for sure that she didnít. God, thatís just horrible! Iím SO sorry. Send me another copy, and I promise Iíll look at it right away!

  9. #9
    Naked Futon Guy allenparker's Avatar
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    My half gallon of gas worth...

    BE honest with a small sales pitch.

    "Why yes, he passed on my project, but it is still avaiable to you. Would you like a synopsis with the full submission?"

    Just an naked salesman's thought.... Allen

    (I could sell clothes at a nudist convention.)

  10. #10
    Ooo! Shiny new cover! Absolute Sage Cathy C's Avatar
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    I agree. Stick with honesty, but there's nothing saying that you can't add in a pitch.


    "You know, I did hear back from [name]. Unfortunately, he passed on it. But I'd really love to have you take a look at it personally, since you're my absolute first choice as an agent, and I really think it's a good fit for you."
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  11. #11
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    This is indeed a strange story.

    You get an agent based on a partial, then take nine years to complete it. Sure, itís a bit of a delay, but your agent seems to be understanding, perhaps because you flew thousands of miles to see her without an appointment. Or because she thought you were dead. She says leave it with me, and you say, well, itís not quite finished.

    Okay, she says, fixing herself a double scotch, send it when you're done. Thatís safe enough, because surely one of you will be dead by that time!

    So six months later you finish it, and as sheís not dead yet, you send it, cross-country. A week later youíre panickingóyou havenít heard anything! Should you call, or shouldnít you? You ask around. Should I call? Some say yes, some say no. Eventually, chewing on a nail, you call anyway, and a couple of weeks later an assistant emails, saying the writing didnít speak to him. Oh no! Maybe you shouldnít have called.

    How depressing!

    But then that assistant, who was evidently an idiot, gets himself fired, and now the agent herself emails, wondering about that ms. And she asks an offhand question that unintentionally creates yet another dilemma: Now you can lie and get a second chance, or you can tell the truth and probably throw away ten years of your life!

    And everyone except me is advising you to tell the truth. Because you donít want to get off on the wrong foot!

    Oy vey!
    Last edited by Julie Worth; 09-21-2005 at 10:53 PM.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW
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    I agree. Stick with honesty, but there's nothing saying that you can't add in a pitch.
    I did just that. I guess, for a moment yesterday (about 2 hrs), I thought about trying to sneak another reading through but, as advised by many here, I also agree that honesty is the best policy. I sent her an e-mail this morning telling her (the agent) that I got a response and could I resend it to her again as I think she would be a good match for me? She says that her plate is simply too full and she's, well, old (I'm paraphrasing but she gave me her age as if trying to tell me just that) and that I need someone I can grow with. So she asks if she can pass it onto another agent at the agency who, she feels, could be a good match for me. I sent her an email and said thank you and, sure, give it to him! So that's where I am at the moment.

  13. #13
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    Good luck, macandal. Fingers crossed for you.

  14. #14
    Naked Futon Guy allenparker's Avatar
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    congrats!

    I hope it goes well for you. Perhaps a great book deal is only a few emails and a signature away.

    Allen

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth
    And everyone except me is advising you to tell the truth. Because you donít want to get off on the wrong foot!
    So, you'd be comfortable having a financial relationship with someone who wasn't a real stickler for honesty?

  16. #16
    Requiescat In Pace Requiescat In Pace
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    Honesty...

    I think Macandal is now a poster child for "Honesty Is The Best Policy." Another reading with the original agent's personal request for that reading...I think this is a very positive step forward.

    Yay!!

    -Ann C Crispin

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth
    Now you can lie and get a second chance, or you can tell the truth and probably throw away ten years of your life!

    And everyone except me is advising you to tell the truth.
    Hey, maybe some day I'll get an agent who feels this way too, and then he can completely hose me. Yay!

  18. #18
    Let's see what's on special today.. Bufty's Avatar
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    And good luck to you, mac.
    Everything yields to treatment.

  19. #19
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aconite
    So, you'd be comfortable having a financial relationship with someone who wasn't a real stickler for honesty?
    All this absolute honesty garbage! This particular case required what my mother used to call a white lie, a lie that does no one any harm. Some lies are good and necessaryótheyíre the grease that keeps society running.

    Homework: Read the blurbs on the back of books. Find one without a single lie.

  20. #20
    (not his real name)
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    Oh for heaven's sake.

    "No, you don't look fat in those pants" is not the same thing as "no, I never heard from your assistant, even though I clearly have." It's not the same in degree, it's not the same in circumstance, and it's not the same in potential consequences. Comparing the two is ludicrous.

  21. #21
    The grad students did it NeuroFizz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth
    All this absolute honesty garbage! This particular case required what my mother used to call a white lie, a lie that does no one any harm. Some lies are good and necessaryótheyíre the grease that keeps society running.

    Homework: Read the blurbs on the back of books. Find one without a single lie.
    And, it's okay to drive ten miles over the speed limit, and to fudge a little on income taxes, and if that bicycle over there isn't locked, the owner probably doesn't want it any more, and if the accountants can make the bottom line come out right, who cares if a little is skimmed from the kitty. Where is the line between white and non-white, and who determines it? Lies and other "dishonesties" don't come in colors.

    Yes, I occasionally bend the truth, like all humans, but I don't make it a personal default condition (not since my teen years), and I never advise others to do so under any circumstances. I have enough trouble keeping myself in check.

    I'm kind of blown away it would bother you that so many of us suggest the truth pathway. Please don't take this as a slam on you personally. I understand what you're saying, and as your personal decision, I can accept it. But you are telling someone else the best pathway is to be dishonest, and that bothers me, and obviously several others here.

    Besides, what if that agent reads these threads??????

  22. #22
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Take a look at your rejection letters, Neuro. Iíll bet every one of them has one or more lies. Do you think they really read and carefully considered your work? Hah! And now macís former agent is too old for him, and her plate is too full! Did both of these happen in the past week, you think? Did her hair turn white overnight?

    White lies, thatís what they are.

  23. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by Julie Worth
    White lies, thatís what they are.
    It's not a lie to say "I'm sorry, we're not interested" instead of saying "Your manuscript sucks goats, and there's no way in hell we're going to rep it for you, good luck, buttmonkey!" They may well be not interested BECAUSE it sucks.

    My integrity is a big part of who I am. It's highly unlikely that I'll start lying just because "hey, everyone ELSE does it."

    YMMV.

  24. #24
    Mostly Harmless SuperModerator CaoPaux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeuroFizz
    Besides, what if that agent reads these threads??????
    Agents, heck. It's a shock to any reader to come across someone who can't differentiate between polite whitewashing and omission of pertinent fact.
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  25. #25
    What? I have a title? Julie Worth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaoPaux
    omission of pertinent fact.
    Yes, I often fail to admit that I have no publishing credits, or that Iíve queried a billion other agents. These would be relevant facts to many agents, Iím sure, who could save themselves the trouble of reading my submission. Yet, I am devious; I withhold those facts.

    And that isnít all! Often, in the middle of a negotiation, Iíll fail to admit that Iím just dying to have something (like a car I have to have because of some silly thing, like the color!) and that thereís no way Iím going to walk out. My omission of those relevant facts could cost the dealer thousands of dollars. Serious money!

    Oh what a liar I am!

    Last edited by Julie Worth; 09-22-2005 at 02:02 AM.

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