Friday, June 11, 2010

ladies and gentlement, we have a bleeder*

*I borrow a term from vampire literature I've been reading lately to refer to a "real, live human being, who has presented itself in the flesh, for all the world as if it is begging to be sucked dry"

That's right. We have had an unsolicited, unagented author "drop by" the press to hand-deliver his work today.

He is, even as I type this from behind my little wall, describing to our poor managing editor the merits of his manuscript and exactly why he's sure we're going to love it.

What is our ME supposed to say to that?!

*squeak*

"Uh, thanks"?

"Well, this is a little uncomfortable. I really wish you'd stop describing your plot to me now so I can get back to work, especially since I'm not the one who will be reading this anyway"?

"Wish you had followed our submissions guidelines as they are available on the web, but instead you've chosen to demonstrate that you're above everyone else's submission guidelines, so thanks for helping us realize at the beginning of the process that you're going to be a handful to work with"?

It sounds (as I huddle behind my desk) like our ME is being very polite. Power to the ME! Better our ME than me!

I know dropping off a manuscript in person seems like a great idea--a way to make yourself stand out, a way to make yourself special, make that agent/editor remember you.

But it's really, really not.

Remember that on a whole, editors are introverted and antisocial (even, secretly, yours truly, if you crack through this blustery exterior--it's part of the job calling, if you think about it). This means that for many editors, in-person presentations like this feel an awful lot like confrontations. You do NOT want the person who's reading your manuscript having backed-into-a-corner thoughts about you.

In fact, you risk the editor becoming afraid of you, and assuming you are a stalker.

Anyway. Everybody reading this blog already knows these rules. It is, alas, the people who will never need this blog that most need them.

26 comments:

Lisa_Gibson said...

Yikes! I really feel for you. That's really $%*!# that someone would just drop-by and think that's okay. Try to have a happy Friday despite the bleeder.

Laurel said...

oh noes. Poor everybody.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Maybe you need a form rejection for in person pitches. Something that would hopefully not lead to an author hissy-fit:

I'm sorry, sir, but writing is a visual medium, and like all visual learners, I can't grasp the scope of your epic by hearing it out loud. It's a problem I've had since I was a kid, and the only solution I've found so far is to read everything by email.

Yes, I know you came all the way down here, but at least email is free and I'd hate to have you waste your time when I can't give you a proper evaluation. Just email the file to (proper address) and be sure to tell us you're the nice fellow who dropped by. I'll make sure it gets to the right place.

:-D

Anitra said...

Ack. We've had this happen several times at our office. It's one thing to quickly drop the manuscript off and disappear into the night; personally, I'm okay with that (mostly because I'm a cheapskate and can understand wanting to save on postage). It's another thing entirely to badger editors, or (shudder) to ask them to read part of the manuscript while you're hovering over them. C'mon writers, cut us some slack!

Susan McBride said...

Ack!!! Just ack!!!

Keetha said...

Bad call, bad call! I'm sure he had the best of intentions, blah, blah. How awkward. Your ME sounds like a very, very nice person. I don't know what I would have done.

magolla said...

Sorry, but the term bleeder has been around the medical field far longer than the recent upsurge of vamp books.
--What's your address so I can personally send you my 200 K middle grade fantasy vampire novella . . .

Bethany Elizabeth said...

That's really sad, in a way. I mean, even the tiniest amount of research into the business will immediately reveal that showing up in person is a bad idea. *sigh* :(

Kay said...

You don't need an excuse to sneak out the back door for something stronger than coffee.

Emily White said...

You should compile a collection of stories from agents and editors who have experienced things like this. It would make for a hilarious book! And then, maybe, people who need to know the truth will get a chance to hear it (considering they're certainly not following the blogs).

Harry Markov said...

WOAH! Major freaky. Yeah, I'd think that the dude was a stalker.

For the sake of being funny, you need a scare board like on the Olympics to award him points in the categories:

Creepy, Arrogant and Clueless

Claire Dawn said...

Seriously??? I thought after Nathan Bransford had that guy show up in a trench coat or something, and EVERYBODY in publishing blogged about it, that noone in the world would ever be so silly again.

Clearly there are no absolutes when it comes to silly. :(

Whirlochre said...

Did he present chocolate, sing a song, offer to give everyone a full aromatherapy massage? Just to make the day extra special?

Jennifer said...

The only time I'd drop something off in public was if it was genuinely a situation where handwalking a document or manuscript was cheaper, and then I would drop it off and LEAVE. I mean, if I got an agent with offices downtown and they requested a full, it's rather silly to mail it.

But...that's a completely different thing.

christwriter said...

The scary thing is, I know exactly who that is. It's my dad in another body. I have cautiously told him that trying to play six degrees of separation with agents/editors/other important book people is probably a BAD IDEA, publishing isn't like trying to sell jewelry to newlyweds, and getting his EXTREAMLY rich friend involved in my book as a favor is probably BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD idea ... but you get the feeling that it goes in one ear, exits the other, and then gets scrambled in the in-between. Because he wants his little girl to succeed at something. The rules do not apply, because HE is the one that wants it.

Yeah.

Anonymous said...

I have a question here about author etiquette. First, I made the questionable move, because I had an authorial reference, to send my manuscript to a publishing house without agent representation. Luckily, they wanted to see the rest of the novel. I sent it to them two weeks ago. Now, I want to work with an agent and plan to in any contract negotiation. So I am wondering if I should A) go ahead and start the agent hunt, sending out queries B) wait to see the editors like me and if they'd suggest a particular agent (or if this might hurt me because of bias from publishing house)C)Wait and see if the publishers like me and then try and independently find the agent I think might suit me best? Or some other option. Another thing, I wonder about this notion that nothing happens in the publishing industry in the summer -- what does that mean exactly?

Ebony McKenna. said...

You're all in the trenches and the 'drop in' is a live grenade the ME has to throw herself on!


How did author/grenade get past security????


Not that I give any credence to the word verification, but this one is a hoot: Nutfaco

Seriously!!!!!!!

Charles Gramlich said...

I sympathize with the guy's desperation but it's like dating, you can't smell desperate or you turn folks off.

David Alton Dodd said...

@Anon: If Moonie answers, take her advice. But if she doesn't, here's mine: Wait until they get back to you. Give them 60-90 days before you even think of contacting them if you don't hear back. If they are interested, ask them to send you an offer so you can give it to your agent, and that you'll have him/her contact them. If you have an offer, getting an agent will not be a problem, you've done a good portion of the job for them.

@ Moonie: You mean I wasted $1500.00 on air fare for nothing? ;)

ggwritespoetry said...

WOW! I am constantly surprised by how much people don't know about this process...just the other day someone asked me how I created my book cover...because she wants to write a book too.

GhostFolk.com said...

"Medic!"

Jeff Carlson said...

That is classic and awesome.

A senior editor at Penguin once told me that while she was in the bathroom at a con, someone slid their entire manuscript under the stall door as a tantalizing surprise, hoping to intrigue her with their ingenuity and daring.

Talk about great stalker action! :)

Ebony McKenna. said...

@ ggwritespoetry - LOL.

Anonymous said...

Thanks David Alton Dodd,
Okay. My instinct was just to wait for their response, though it's painful! Oh, how I hate the waiting. After four years of writing and one previous novel published by a university press, you'd think I'd get used to it. Ah, well.

Mike Lindgren said...

In a just world the ME should legally be allowed to soak the person down with mace or pepper spray.

S. Kyle Davis said...

I was thinking about someone doing this just last night. My wife was watching Coal Miner's Daughter, and it was at the part where they took their self-made album and hand-delivered it to regional radio stations to play. I was thinking, this would never work today. In fact, doing so would be a really, really bad idea. Seems I'm right!

www.skyledavis.com