Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Variety Hand Gestures Related to Agent Responses

Look here
This symbol  is a printer's mark, called a manicule (from the Latin root 'manus' for 'hand') or printer's fist. Though less common today, it was regularly used between the 12th and 18th centuries, hand drawn in the margins of books, and was formerly included in lists of standard punctuation marks. Today it's used primarily as a bullet point in documents, or as a graphic compositional element. I've spent some time looking at old manuscripts at the in Chicago's very lovely Newberry Library and was interested in the variety and style of the loose interpretations of the mark by various artists (mostly monks). My brain brought these marks back over the past week as I received my first several responses from literary agents. 

You do not win my approval
 I have had responses from seven agents in the first week since starting the submission process. Most have been very kind, professional and in several cases even encouraging. Certainly they have been prompt. I was stunned when one agent asked to see my entire manuscript within an hour of sending my query and the first five pages. He passed on the project a few days later, but recommended I submit to a specific agent at another agency who he felt might really enjoy the material. Of course, I followed up on his suggestion. Who knows?

I find you meet minimum standards

I was asked by a second agent for more material. The request came with a disconcertingly enthusiastic note. I was warned it would take a few weeks to get to the submission. Frankly, waiting is hard, but I expected to hear nothing for months. All of the correspondence has knocked me off my plan. I have an article deadline fast approaching, and have been unable to pull myself into the right mindset to wrap it up. I also have a new book to get moving on, but am unable to get any real traction. 

Also, I've gotten a few rejections that irritate. I make things all the time, and have for many years. Rejection is an expected part of the process and I am not particularly sensitive or thin-skinned about it. I actually am more suspicious of hyperbolic compliments than of reasonable critique. But, three rejections have come back with the explanation that the agent is not taking any new projects, and this I don't know how to feel about. Why? Because I researched the agents and agencies and it was clear from everything available to me that they were, in fact, taking submissions. So, either it is a weak kind of brush-off or their materials simply aren't up to date. Either is fine. I just wish I knew. This process produces anxiety. 

Now f-off

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