Monday, July 13, 2009
Sometimes stealth is not the quality I am looking for.
I have a ninja manuscript. As of Friday, four out of the ten agents who asked me to send more pages -- either a partial or a full -- have now admitted to misplacing those materials, at least temporarily. But I don't blame the agents. I blame the book.
Apparently, my novel has become quite skilled in the art of being unperceived over the last several weeks. I imagine it first developed a plan of attack after three quick captures and rejections by partial-requesting agents early in the process... perhaps hoping to avoid further rejection, it then switched to active stealth mode. Of the remaining seven agents, two failed to realize the manuscript was on the premises, but were able to find it when prompted. One thought she had the manuscript, but was subsequently unable to open the document. Most recently, an agent was unable to find a single trace of the document, even with extensive searching, and another copy had to be sent. Two more remain unaccounted for (the agents haven't gotten back to me yet) and only one appears to have arrived without incident... perhaps it was thrown off its game by the fact that I printed that one in hard copy and mailed it.
This is not ideal. I do kind of like it when the (universally apologetic) agents and agency assistants promise to move my now-captured novel to the top of the pile, but since I didn't check in with these agencies until after the review time guidelines had passed, this is all taking place 8-10 weeks after the manuscripts were first sent in. Industry etiquette only aids the ninja novel in its campaign of stealth and illusion.
Writers, your only defense against the ninja novel's expert sabotage techniques is good record-keeping and a willingness to follow up. Without my Excel spreadsheet, I would not know when the manuscripts were sent, or when it would be appropriate to check in, and my manuscripts would be forever hiding in plain sight like Keyser Soze.
And like that... it's gone.