For the three of you who want to hear about how the episode of The Hills was last night, let me tell you: it was amazing. Exceeded my expectations. First of all, Heidi walked home and Spencer was overseeing the installation of a piece of furniture that looked like an old armoire, and they proceeded to have this conversation:
Heidi – What is that?
Spencer – It’s a jellyfish tank.
Heidi – Oh. So anyway, here’s what happened today.
The things I love about this: 1) Spencer has a jellyfish tank. 2) The fact that Spencer just purchased a jellyfish tank appears to be the least interesting thing he did that day and 3) Heidi just got engaged to someone who buys jellyfish tanks and it is so unsurprising that a jellyfish tank is being installed in her apartment that she does not even raise an eyebrow.
Later on in the episode, Heidi comes home and Spencer has apparently let the guy who airbrushes t-shirts on the Santa Monica pier into their home to graffiti the word “Hollywood” and a bunch of dollar signs on their living room wall. That at least got Heidi to raise her eyebrows.
But to me, it was Audrina and her new boyfriend who stole the show. Yes, Audrina is dating someone who calls himself alternately Justin or Bobby (but don’t ask him if you can call him Justin Bobby, that’s a sore spot), who looks like Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers upon graduating from pirate school, and who apparently once abandoned Audrina in Las Vegas (but other than that he’s great… at being borderline hostile). That relationship is one to keep an eye on.
And…. well, I will restrain myself from going more in depth lest you think you stumbled upon the official blog for Us Magazine.
In other news, as previously mentioned it’s August in publishing, which is a notorious slow month. Yes, work gets done and no, I am not writing this from the Hamptons, but things do tend to slow down due to the number of people on vacation and due to the fact that if you work in New York the heat is inducing you into a coma and if you work in San Francisco it is so cold your teeth are chattering as you wonder aloud why you are wearing sweaters in August and are STILL COLD.
So, this brings us to another oft-asked question: how often should you follow up with that prospective agent who has been sitting on your manuscript for what seems like several eternities?
Over in the Absolute Write forum, I am often asked this very question. And in general (and in my sole and humble opinion), when an agent has your manuscript, here’s the general rule: After you submit, wait 60-90 days (opinions vary among agents on this – for me personally, 30 days is okay). Then follow up once a month, exceedingly politely, via e-mail, until 1) you hear back or 2) you get tired of asking. Include every e-mail you have exchanged with the agent in the body of the e-mail so the agent can easily refresh their memory about who you are.
The exceedingly polite thing is key – agents do not mean to sit on your manuscript, they do not enjoy making you wait and turning you into a nervous wreck, and always remember that you have one manuscript to worry about while an agent has dozens of clients and even more prospective clients to juggle. Waiting can turn people hostile, and it’s not fair to the agent — we’re not lazy or mean, we’re just busy. I’ve also had situations where a poor author waited three or four months to check in with me and I had never received the manuscript. That was unfortunate. So mistakes also happen, and a responsible and timely follow-up can eliminate those errors.
Now, should you follow up on unsolicited queries? For me — yes, please do follow up if you haven’t heard in a month (via e-mail, politely), because if you haven’t heard from me in a month it means something went wrong somewhere along the way. However, in general I don’t know if it is that wise to follow up. Whatever its merits or demerits, many agents follow the “I’ll respond if I’m interested” policy, and if you continue to follow up you may only aggravate said agent, and that isn’t productive.
If, however, you have received a request for a partial or full, then it’s ok to follow the once-a-month rule, unless the agent has a policy or tells you specifically that they will get back to you within X months (in which case you should follow up in X months — ha! Good luck marking THAT on a calendar).
So there you have it. And if anyone asks you what they should get me for Christmas, I’m just saying…