Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. ~E.L. Doctorow
By: Stacey Purcell
I had another article I was going to write today, but I ran across a series of emails that I felt compelled to share with all of you. Sit back and watch me eat humble pie and die!
It’s a doozie.
No, really- it was beyond embarrassing.
Background information: I’m first vice president of my writing chapter where I live. It’s a fairly time consuming and challenging job, but one I think that I handle fairly well. I bring in speakers every month from around the country to share their knowledge about writing or their particular profession. For instance, this spring we’ve had an ordained voodoo priestess, a literary agent teaching us about pitching, and a celebrated author (C. C. Hunter) sharing her inside knowledge of the YA market with us.
We’ve also gone on field trips and I’m in charge of our annual conference. Alexandra Sokoloff will be our key speaker this year, and we’ll have three agents plus an editor taking pitches as well. (If you’re in the area, it will be an awesome event and you won’t want to miss it. http://www.nwhrwa.com -Shameless plug, I know.)
Anyway, one of the hurdles I have to face is getting industry folks to commit to coming. This year, I set my sights on a particular agency. They have a wonderful reputation and both of their top agents are well liked. With high hopes I fired off my email requesting their attendance.
Things were going great. The first agent said she was already booked but would be happy to ask her associate. Yay! I loved her too. Then I waited. And waited. I sent a gentle nudge to see what was happening. And waited.
At this point, my nerves were getting frazzled. I knew I couldn’t ask another agency until I heard from this one. That would be rude. Little did I know that I would take rude to a whole new level!
Finally after two months, I got a response. It was not the one I wanted to read.
I would love to be there, but unfortunately I also already have a commitment that weekend. I hope you have a wonderful conference, though, and perhaps we can plan for 2012.
It was a perfectly lovely decline to our invite. She obviously had manners and responded with grace. What did I do? I decided I needed to let off some pent up anxiety over planning this shin dig. I wrote an email moaning over this new development with a snarky flair. I then sent it to the president of our chapter. (Hi Jenn)
Wow- they are just now getting back to me. Glad I wasn’t counting on them!!
Unfortunately I pushed the wrong button! Instead of the forward icon, I chose the reply one. OMG!!! I knew my mistake as soon as my mouse rolled over the little envelope with the arrow wrapped around it. How could I be so stupid?
Her response came quicker than I could say, “I’m moving to Siberia.”
I think this may have gone to the wrong person.
Wow. Really? Just slit my wrists and let me bleed out. I think my cheeks burned brighter than the sun that day. There was only one thing to do. I had to pull on my big girl pants and grovel like there was no tomorrow. Sigh.
After offering my first born child and apologizing until there were no words left, I waited for a response. I don’t know what I was more afraid of -getting one or never hearing from them again. I didn’t have long to wait.
No worries–I think we’ve all had that kind of email snafu. For the record, though, I responded within an hour of XXX”s email. 😉 I believe she was in Italy in when the invitation came through and then we had travel for a sales conference. We certainly try to get back to everyone as quickly as possible, and we really do appreciate the invitation.
This agent will forever be my hero. She could have raked me over the coals for my comment, instead she let me off the hook. I also made it a point to catch her in New York and introduce myself as the moron who couldn’t tell the difference between reply and forward. I apologized again and we had a good laugh. Thank goodness for folks with a sense of humor.