This kinnnnnnda should go without saying, but even if you live next door to an agency do not stop by to drop off an unsolicited query or manuscript or ask to speak with an agent. If you saw some of the e-mails I get you’d know there’s no way I’m coming out of my office.
Marilyn Peake says
I’m wondering if being at the right place at the right time makes a huge difference as to what’s acceptable behavior. I was watching a televised show of Book Expo America a couple of years ago. At one point, as the commentators were pausing, a young man ran up to a famous film director who was leaving the conference and handed him something. The film director paused, looked surprised; then smiled and said, “Sure, I’ll be happy to take a look at it. I’ll read it on the plane.”
This didn’t inspire a novel, but it showed up in my writing groups prompt for the week. We had to write a query letter that was also a marriage proposal… inspired by this story at pubrants
Frank Cole says
Ah, but I already booked my flight!
Okay- I commented yesterday but took it down because I mentioned that my my friends have warned me to stop posting pictures of my children on my blog because they are worried about stalkers. I think it’s crazy. Then, I had a twinge of fear and removed my comment. But, after thinking about it a little longer I’m back to my original feeling. I’m not afraid that blogging will encourage stalkers. At least not for someone like me who has nothing to offer- unilike Nathan.
However, I this post is funny. I’m sorry. It’s also scary. But, Nathan has a way of making light of the situation. I would probably be really freaked out, take down my blog (so I wouldn’t encourage stalkers.)
Don’t take your page down- it’s too interesting. In my next life I want to be a writer. I enjoy all your great tips.
I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. Perhaps the person thought your office was like other businesses. I know I can drop off my electic bill at our electric company. I can drop something off at the cable company. Were they attempting to talk to you or simply drop off a piece of business correspondence at a place of business?
When I had my Western Wear store in Arizona (yes, I really did) I used to get letters stamped “State Penitentiary” from inmates trying to sell me hitched horsehair.
I went back to Chicago and got a paralegal certificate and that’s when the fun really started. I used to have to hand-deliver documents to various law offices all over town and I’d have to say that in half the offices I delivered to, the receptionist was behind bullet-proof glass.
Then the calls started at my own office, right around Christmas time, with the psycho who wanted the attorney’s cell number and wouldn’t stop calling. I did Worker’s Comp and this guy was brain damaged from a work-related car wreck and he was off his meds. Then there was time the Psych Ward called and warned the attorney I was working for that they were holding a guy who still had a grudge against my boss because he had lost his case several years ago, and that legally they could only keep him for a few days and then they would have to let him loose, and that we should “plan accordingly.”
One day around Halloween I asked my boss what he was going to be for Halloween and he said, “An attorney. For me it’s Halloween every day.”
But for your garden variety publishing industry psychos the junior high teacher as bodyguard sounds just about as good as any:
“What all you doin’ in here, boy? Ain’t I done told you not to show up widout a ‘pointment? Now go on and get outta here ‘fore I call yo daddy. You don’t want me to go there, boy. I know yo daddy done beat the tar outta you the last time this happened.”
For years I was one of those dragon ladies outside the boss’s door. My job was to keep everyone out and screen every call. I got a kick out of it (strange little power trip?). Once I even told a salesman to his face that my boss was out when in fact she was standing behind me, and another time I escorted by boss’s business partner’s new employee out of the building because they didn’t recognize her (again she was standing right next to me). I hope you have a good dragon lady outside your door!
Will Entrekin says
My mental image was more Being John Malkovich John Cusack than Say Anything . . . John Cusack.
OK. I deleted my post, but following jeanne’s lead, I’ll republish it.
I don’t want to sound like a bumpkin, but Nathan, I am surprised by your post. It would seem to me that dropping off a manuscript at an agent’s office would be, uh, normal and not at all creepy.
Maybe I’ve lived in Louisiana too long or something (well, I’m smart enough to know *that* to be true).
I can only imagine the many faux pas I’ve committed in this lifetime without knowing it…
Marilyn has a great idea: Send monkeys to you with manuscripts…
Meg Wiviott says
Do some people just not think??
I just had an oven repair man here – my oven needs a new “mother board” or some such thing – but he told me to be sure I’m not using the oven when he comes back to repair it. He said there are countless times when he goes to someone’s house to repair the oven and they’ve been using it! How can he repair the oven if it’s 400 degrees??
It makes for a scary world.
Nathan Bransford says
Well, there are a couple of reasons why we publishing people get skittish about unsolicited drop-ins. For one, it’s just simple politeness to arrange these types of things ahead of time. But most importantly, we are subject to a whole lot of hostility from a whole lot of unbalanced people, and that tends to make us paranoid.
And for the record, this person wasn’t just dropping something off, they wanted to speak with me. I didn’t come out of my office. If I were in another line of work I might not be as skittish, but not this one.
He is alive! Phew!
Unbelievable… I must live in a bubble, because I would never have imagined!
I could see myself handling that both ways depending on how I felt at the moment.
You have to trust your instincts.
There are very few white collar professions that don’t give a serious going over to walk-ins.
On a good day I would have eye balled the perp with the trusty stare of death while listening; then read him the riot act.
On a bad day I would be peeking out the
drapes taking down his license number and swallowing a chill pill.
This would make good contest material.
Character X has to convince character Y against their will to do action Z.
Fictional response to an office interloper.
“Are you the guy who has been calling me at 2:05 am for the last five years?
(Throw in eye twitches and involuntary grimaces) Cause if you are today is your day. Brother!! Today is yorrrrrrr DAY!”
Hang tough dude.
This too shall pass.
I can totally see how being in a job like Nathan’s could be “dangerous.”
First off – think of the guy in “Sideways” with the 10,000 page story of his life that he was so stressed about having published. Someone pours their very complicated insides out onto paper and feels vulnerable, and wants validaton.
Then, I’ve got a few Mensa members in my extended family. The smartest people I will probably ever know. Also, people I would be freaked out to see in a dark alley- if they weren’t my blood. In fact- maybe even then. You know the saying about “genius being close to insanity..”
So, hang in there Nathan. And I promise my Uncle (the weirdest one with the 160 IQ) isn’t into writing- and will never bother you. He makes jewelry and goes to Roswell every year to commune with the Extra Terrestrials.
I LOVE the movie “Sideways” but I hope to God I never become “Miles.” “Jack” maybe, but never “Miles.”
And for the slightly deranged and scary bodyguard I was channeling Dwight Yoakam as the abusive boyfriend “Doyle Hargraves” in the movie, “Sling Blade.”
Get yourself an assistant like this Nathan, to run interference for you and you’ll never have to worry again.
Wandering Chopsticks says
Umm, this would be like when a reader, who had never ever commented before, emailed me to ask if she and her hubby could come over for dinner.
lone lawyer says
I feel for you! I am an attorney who practices as a public defender, so I get whoever the court assigns to me. We live in a very small town, so a low profile is not possible. One day I walked out my back door and found one of my creepiest clients sitting in the back yard. I am pretty good at getting rid of people, but this one was tense. I have to be nice, I like having glass in my windows. However, boundaries must be set . . . and set them I did.
BTW, this client had a delusion that she was a groupie for a well-known ‘boy’ band and that each member of the band was the father of one of her kids . . .
Soldier on and have an escape plan!