Always Follow Up!

on July 27, 2014 in Misc

This last week I learned how absolutely VITAL it can be to FOLLOW UP ON SUBMISSIONS!

agents listr

As you know, gentle reader, in April I was jumping for joy when an agent emailed that she wanted to take a look at my manuscript, Charity MacCay and the Almighty Dollar.  I anxiously gave it one final look through, fixed the pagination, did my umpteenth spell check, and only a few hours after receiving the agent’s request, I sent off a pdf of my manuscript to her.  Of course I also checked the email address  and subject line a dozen times and made sure everything was just plain perfect.

And then I waited. And waited.

I waited for over 100 days.

Yes I know, the world of traditional publishing can move at a glacial pace.  But seriously, 100 days after this wonderful agent sounded enthusiastic about my novel?  Finally I sent a brief, polite follow-up query, as in, Have you had a chance to look at my manuscript yet?

Only minutes later her assistant emailed me back with profuse apologies.  She and the agent had been unhappy when they requested my manuscript and it never came.  But my follow-up query had prompted the assistant to check her deleted messages and spam folder and… THERE WAS MY EMAIL WITH THE ATTACHED MANUSCRIPT IN THE *#!&! WRONG FOLDER!

She was SO sweet and SO apologetic and yes, they would now look at Charity MacCay tout suite.  And of course I emailed back that I too have experienced similar strange acts of hostility by emails services and servers (this is very true, especially when using Outlook at my job), and that yes, I’d still love for the agent to have a look at my manuscript.


This assistant also thanked me for FOLLOWING UP!  And I’m so glad I FOLLOWED UP!  Because if I hadn’t, they would still be wrongly assuming I’d snubbed them and I would be drowning my rejection sorrows in a bottle of very strong wine.

I only wish I had emailed this assistant the day after sending my manuscript just to confirm way back then that she had received it.  Live and learn.

So let this be a lesson to you, my fellow writers.  Even when you do everything correctly, or an agent or editor does everything just right, the malicious, petty, unpredictable minor Greek god of the internet can still technologically mess with you.  It can mess with your head, it can mess with your emails, and worst of all it can mess with your manuscripts.

Have you ever had this kind of experience too?  If so, you have my sympathies.

12 Responses to “Always Follow Up!”

  1. That sucks! At least you know they have it now. I’ve had emails going missing before.

  2. Helena says:

    Alex – But somehow the junk email always reach us, doesn’t it?

  3. I’ve had emails go missing as well. Like you, I have acquired the habit of emailing the following day to confirm receipt. I have submitted so many times and been rejected that I decided to self publish. It has given me the opportunity to write a series of novels linked in the same universe. I would never have been able to have done that with traditional publishers. I pray that they accept your novel! :-)

  4. I haven’t had that experience, but to be honest, this sounds like a pretty incompetent assistant (which can be found in any agency no matter what the experience or reputation). I just hope that incompetence doesn’t cost you. IT can be the luck of the draw on whom your manuscript lands.

  5. ann says:

    So glad you followed up. Lately, I’ve had tasks which required a lot of call backs and intense conversations. It seems as though computer glitches and human error is the Rule not the Exception. I don’t even pay a restaurant tab without reviewing the bill. Sometimes I’ll get a medical bill and then I’ll have to call and prove that I already paid it. I keep receipts until I see the charge on my cc statement. It’s never ending.

  6. Helena says:

    Roland – I admire you for publishing more than one novel. I’ve done it once and found the process very tough because like you I wanted to do it right. It’s really too bad that you’ve had a lot of rejections, because it really does hurt, doesn’t it? But I’ve bought a couple of your books and I’m looking forward to reading them!

  7. Helena says:

    Michael — Right now I’m counting on their guilt to give me an edge! But I don’t blame the assistant because I really have had some of my own emails vanish into the ether. Maybe I can blame the NSA.

  8. Helena says:

    Ann – You sound like me when it comes to medical bills and things. I do the exact same thing with my receipts and cc bill ’cause I don’t trust any system. Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?

  9. So glad you followed up. It’s important.

  10. Helena says:

    Carol – I learned my lesson the hard way.

  11. EXCELLENT news about the agent’s interest, Helena. I wish you well! And yes indeed, it’s best to follow up considering how many internet gremlins are out there just waiting to snatch our submissions. I appreciate the editors/publishers/agents who send an autoreply that they’ve received your sub.

  12. Helena says:

    Milo – You’re so persistent and successful with your submissions that you’ve taught me how to hang in there and have faith. Thanks.