Wednesday, August 16, 2006

An Example of My Day

Someone just asked me on another post about my speed in replying to queries, especially e-mail queries. I am not Speedy Gonzalezes here. Do not ever assume that I am saying "no" to you, if you haven't heard from me yet. Just assume that I am slow; I recently had someone send me a "follow-up" query, asking why I had not replied within two weeks. Where in the world did I ever say that I was going to reply within two weeks? I don't think most authors are aware of what agents do everyday. Let's take a look at my typical day, shall we. I'm going to post my "to-do" list below.

First, however, let's take a brief look at what happens when I go into NYC for an editor lunch. Yesterday, for example, I had lunch with a lovely romance editor at 1 pm in the afternoon. To get to that lunch, however, I woke up at 8:30 am or so, ate breakfast, drank my tea so that my brain would wake up, went through my e-mail backlog trying to catch up, spoke to Lori on the phone because she's off on vacation now and I have things to do for her while she's gone, called a few editors and left messages, frantically ran around trying to find clean clothes to wear and then showered and dressed. My mother (aka my ride, since I have no car of my own at the moment) showed up by 11 am, and we dashed off to Staples so that I could drop off an electronic copy of a manuscript that I needed to print out. She then drove me to the bus stop, and I was on the bus by 11:40 am. The bus pulled into Port Authority by 12:47 pm. I dashed downstairs to the subway level, hopped on an uptown C train (since subways go faster than my legs), and got to my lunch on W. 51st with seconds to spare.

I finished lunch by around 2:40 pm. I then walked the nine blocks down 8th Ave. to get back to Port Authority, checking my voicemail the entire time, since I had several new messages. I briefly stopped to buy my grandfather a birthday card and to pick up something to read on the bus on the way home. The bus pulled out of Port Authority by 3:25 pm or so, and I got home at 4:30 pm or so. My mom picked me up from the glorious highway bus stop, we went back to Staples to pick up my manuscript, and then back to my house. I walked in the door at 5 pm, after getting my mail, and ran upstairs to my office so that I could attempt to catch the editors who had returned my calls before they left their offices for the day. I left one voicemail message, had a nice chat with another editor, and then spoke to two of my clients. By the time I got off the phone, which was somewhere around 6pm or so, I had the beginning of a sinus headache and I was exhausted from the entire day and the heat and humidity. Welcome to a commuting day.

Now, let's look at today's "to-do" list, which is slightly edited for privacy of those involved:
Send out an agency agreement for a new client
Send out agency agreements for all the old clients that came with me from Folio (7 in total)
Call a client
Call a prospective client (possibly call two prospective clients)
Repair broken printer, so that I can print stuff again
Package up manuscript #1 (this, assuming the printer works, will involve printing out a pitch letter, address labels, and neatly putting the entire thing into a package with minimal tape usage)
Package up two copies of manuscript #2
Package up manuscript #3
Package up manuscript #4
Call several editors to pitch a project
E-mail off manuscript #5 to a different editor, after I get the Word file in good shape
Deal with a writer-for-hire contract
Call the editor who's buying one of my client's books, to see how things are going with the contract there
Call another editor
Call yet another editor, since we've been playing perpetual phone tag
Call my eye doctor
Check Lori's e-mail while she's away and deal with things that need dealing with
Attempt to keep up with my e-mail
Start making meal appts and such for Worldcon

And all of this has to be done by 3:30pm this afternoon or so, since my mother will be arriving then. We shall be adjourning to the post office, so that I can mail all the stuff I need to mail, and then I'm going to wait to get on a bus to get into the city. Trying to get in at rush hour is horrible because the Lincoln Tunnel is a bitch. I need to be downtown for the KGB reading, which starts at 7 pm, and if I get on the bus later than 4:30 pm, I will seriously be late for the reading.

Notice how there's no "read queries" listed on the "to-do" list? This is because they get stuck in during the cracks, when I'm not on the phone with editors or clients, or when I can't sleep at 3 am in the morning. Please bear with me and have patience.


gabe said...

I don't know if I'm like most writers, but I generally assume a speedy response is a bad thing. In my mind there would be nothing worse than getting a rejection the same day the query arrived or even in the first week after. Maybe I'm weird...

Jodi Meadows said...



That's a ton of work. Commuting sounds ew. There needs to be a handy way to tesser back and forth. Because really, that's a lot of traveling!

I don't even like going to the *grocery store*. (Unless there is chocolate involved, of course.)

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Girl, you amaze me. I have brand-new respect for your energy and all you do for your clients. Thanks for the break-down of your to-do list!

Jordan Summers said...

Wow...seriously, wow. I'd be in the corner crying by now. *g* I do think you forgot something on the list though. I think there should be a doctor's appt. for those sinuses added in there somewhere. :)

Jenny Rappaport said...

Bah, I have given up on the idea of getting into the city today for the KGB reading, since I've just got too much to do and am too tired.

jordan, I need new sinuses... I'm just waiting for someone to invent them. =)

In good news, the printer is now printing again, although it took several calls to Lexmark to make it work.

James Dashner said...

Good gravy, Jenny, seeing that schedule makes me feel like one of those rich aristocrats in old England who walked around enjoying the gardens and sipping tea all day.

Actually, thanks for sharing this. Quite fascinating. Maybe not for you, but for us.

'Tis a very small thing, but for my part, I assure you it doesn't bother me one bit (not that you would lose sleep if it did) and I don't expect otherwise when it takes awhile for you to get back on emails. I'm actually shocked you reply as quickly as you do, especially after seeing what your schedule is like. You're to be commended!

Very sorry about the sinuses. That just sucks.

Ben S. D. said...

Well Jenny, contrary to a few other people here, that DOESN'T surprise me. I figure most agents are like this, which is why I've always tried to remain as polite and straightforward as humanly possible in my dealings with them.

I try not to be too pushy unless I'm looking at a timeline/deadline of my own (and even then, it's risky), and I've always guessed that GOOD agents have days like that. Therefore, I believe it's like a give-and-take juggling game between client and agent, with the client expecting the agent to work on their project, and the agent expecting the client not to bug them every 10 minutes about the process. Lot of trust and respect for the other's time and privacy, would be my guess.

Hope I'm not TOO far off base, being a newbie to the game. ;)

Richard White said...

The best advice I ever recieved with regards to queries.

Mail it, forget it, go to work on the next novel.

About all you can do as a writer unless you want to drive yourself crazy.

Fourteen Year Old Writer said...

Thanks. As a writer, it's helpful to be reminded agents just don't sit around reading queries all day, and I'll try to remember that the next time I get antsy, which is often.

Jenny Rappaport said...

You're welcome, fourteen year old writer! And seriously, keep writing. I have a firm belief that children and teenagers should be encouraged to write early and often, since it's a wonderful way to express yourself. =)

And I was particularly lucky in that I had a wonderful high school English teacher, Mrs. Riordan, who would read my stories and help me make them better. When you're that age, getting encouragement is such a huge thing.

Chelsea said...

Funnily enough, any requests from agents I've had for my manuscript have been sent/e-mailed exactly three days from when I sent them... the time it takes for the mail to get to New York from here.

I get the feeling (but I don't really know, of course) that everybody who doesn't want it throws my query in one big reject pile to stuff with a form reject later on.

Could just be coincidence, though. ;)