Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Wait Game, or LEARN from my FAIL


I’m sure many of you unagented writer types are like me right now: biting my nails hoping to get into a couple of contests.  Turns out I’ve done this contest thing once or twice, and I have some advice for you if you make it to the agent round.  It’s really simple advice:

WAIT.

After you get a request from an agent, wait. I know this sounds really simple, but trust me, wait a day. Read through your submission, and then hit send.

But Rena, aren’t the agents all hot to trot? They just requested material!!!! I might die if I wait another second!!!!

Oh hyperactive me from the past*, I know how that feels, but let me just say, you will hate yourself tomorrow morning if you hit send tonight.  Shoot, you might hate yourself in thirty seconds if you hit send right now.

Story time:

There I was twitter pitching my little heart out when LO AND BEHOLD an agent favorited my pitch. I almost died. I jumped up and down like a fool, I did the happy dance. I ran a quick research run on the agent. It was someone I wanted to query (reps a couple of super awesome writers I love), and I was over the moon.  The agent wanted to see my work. MINE! I mean how could that even be possible. I could almost see myself floating up out of the slush pile masses to join the luminaries of the writing community: agented writers.

In the thirty minutes of research, my heart thumped and thumped in my chest. My adrenaline made my fingers shake, but I felt like I was taking too long to ship off the requested material. I read faster, I went to the agency website and read up on all of the agents and who they repped and what kind of agency they were. And then I hit send.

Only to realize that there were two agents with names that started with the same letter and I’d just sent it to the WRONG ONE!!!!

AND THEN! Like a complete idiot who has taken a vacation from what little senses I might have had, I tweeted to the agent.

That’s right, I was so nervous I tweeted to the WORLD how I’d screwed up submitting the requested materials and addressed it all to the wrong agent.

It’s unlikely that this really killed my submission (it just wasn’t quite ready, close but no cigar), but it sure didn’t help. I’d kick myself more, but like I said, the project wasn’t quite ready. I tried not to feel like such a fool for the rest of the month, but every time it came up, I just wanted to crawl into a hole.

My point is that if you get a request, sit on it overnight if at all possible. It was such a simple mistake, and I could have avoided it by not jumping the gun. Learn from my fail. Patience. Wait. Think about contests a little bit more like when you get a guy or girl’s number. You don’t call them the morning after the party, you wait (until at least noon).

Good luck out there, and I mean it, wait. You can do it. You’ve already waited a week or more to find out if you made the agent round, what’s another day?

*This is totally paying homage to CrashCourse History because John Green is awesome. 

11 comments:

  1. Some good advice. So sorry to hear about your mistake but rest assured we have all made them. Best of luck for next time.

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    1. I'm well versed in swallowing my pride when it comes to mistakes, so this one wasn't so bad. The real problem was that my brain just went on vacation without letting me know. I felt so betrayed by it.

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  2. Yeah. Forgive yourself and move on. It is what it is. Good advice though.

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    1. I just hope to save someone else from my mistake. It's so frustrating when you make them and they could have been avoided.

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  3. Oh no! Sorry. :( Sounds like something I'd do, too. Better luck next time! This is great advice. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. I did walk around the house calling myself an idiot for a few days. And I thought I was impervious to idiocy, so it's a good reminder for the people like me who usually have their ducks in a row: Your Brain Will Betray You when you are excited! I should write a PSA about this, because it's backed by Science.

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  4. As an agent, I can promise that we are not sitting at our emails counting the minutes until your request comes in. Don't wait too long because then we'll wonder if it was really ready and you were rushing to finish. But a day or two is perfectly fine.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Sarah. I'll definitely add that to my recommendations, wait, but not too long!

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  5. I've taken to emailing myself the file as a trial run, so I can see it as it arrives.

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  6. Ha! That reminds of a time I sent a query to an agent request where they specifically said they wanted an attachment and i forgot to attach the attachment!!! Yeah, I know exactly what you mean!

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  7. Ouch. That one stings. But we've all done something similar. Good luck in the new contests.

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