Advice about approaching agents!

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Yunalesca, Jun 11, 2007.

  1.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    I wanted to gather some opinions about the process of trying to find an agent. I've currently got one finished book, which I am sending to one agent at a time. I'm also writing another unrelated book, which I hope to have finished by the end of the year.

    I'm starting to wonder if I will be able to sell the first book, and whether or not it's in my interests to keep sending it out. I have quite an unusual name so it's possible agents might remember me. Anyway, here are my concerns...

    * Are agents more like to look favourably on an author's next submission if they've already turned something down by them? Or will they look less favourably at them?

    * Is it good practice to remind agents that they've seen a previous work? This could show tenacity, but maybe this is unwise if they disliked your first book.

    Basically, I want to know whether you think I'm harming my chances by getting turned down. :eek:
  2.  
    Leisha

    Leisha Tennis-ball Robin

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    Well, this is just my opinion, but I don't think agents would look badly on you for resubmitting another novel. I like to think that they look at each manuscript in turn, and they don't hold any preconceptions before reading it. They should judge each work on its own merit regardless of what you've sent in the past (unless, of course, you were particularly awful and memorable).

    I'm not sure I'd remind them about earlier submissions you've sent in, though; many writers keep writing new work and then submitting, so it's probably quite common and expected anyway.
  3.  
    Circus Cranium

    Circus Cranium New Member

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    You don't need to send it to one agent at a time, unless they request an exclusive. You can hammer those things out like bullets until you get a full read request.

    And no, they don't look disfavorably on anyone submitting a second novel if they've turned down the first. Some will even encourage you to submit again...often they might have liked your work, and it's just one thing that didn't work for them, or they didn't get a consensus among all the editors.
  4.  
    The Ace

    The Ace Aye fur Alba

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    Run like H*ll when you see them ?:p
  5.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    Thanks so much for all the advice! It's reassuring to know I can keep submitting and writing without damaging my future chances.

    Circus - I didn't realise I could make multiple submissions. I'd read in a few places that it's best practice to submit to one at a time. I'd also read that if you do make submissions to more than one agent at a time, it's polite to inform them in your covering letter - which I didn't want to do as I thought it would make me look like I'm not really bothered about who takes me on.

    Do you think I need to inform an agent if other agents are reading my work at the same time?
  6.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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  7.  
    Circus Cranium

    Circus Cranium New Member

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    (Circus - I didn't realise I could make multiple submissions. I'd read in a few places that it's best practice to submit to one at a time. I'd also read that if you do make submissions to more than one agent at a time, it's polite to inform them in your covering letter - which I didn't want to do as I thought it would make me look like I'm not really bothered about who takes me on. )

    At the start, when you're first submitting out of the gate, everyone expects that you'll be sending it everywhere. With the amount of time it takes for some of these to get back to you, it could be 2020 before you get published if you only send out one at a time. Some find it good etiquette to inform them you have it elsewhere when they request a full, but even then, only stop subbing if they ask for an exclusive read--which is usually a few mos, depending on the agent.
  8.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    Ah, that's a huge weight off my shoulders. :) I've been calculating how long it would take if I continued this way, and it could get ridiculous. I'll take your advice about this! Thanks!

    SJAB - thanks very much for those links. It looks like there's some really useful information in there!
  9.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    You can send out as many queries as you like, but be careful that you don't send out more than one partial at a time if you're submitting to agents that ask for an exclusive look. Be courteous enough to respect the wishes of the people you hope to deal with in the future; treat them as honestly as you would wish them to treat you. You're looking for someone with whom you can form a working alliance.

    And, frankly, I would choose which agents to submit to first based on more solid criteria than whether or not they're willing to look at simultaneous subs. After all, it's not about how many agents you can go through quickly, it's about ending up with the best one.
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    Birol

    Birol New Member

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    Are you sending the full manuscript each time or a query, synopsis, and first three?
  11.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    What I've done so far is call the agency to ask what they like to receive in their submissions package, and then send them what's requested.

    I've only approached two so far - the second one still has my material. I've been sending about 30 pages of the MS and a synopsis, on the understanding that if they're interested they'll request the whole thing.

    I'd always read that it's best to send these initial submissions one at a time but I guess it's not necessarily the case! :) I'm just a little wary of breaking any rule of publishing etiquette early on in my career...

    The current agency has had my opening pages for six weeks now, but I've read it's best to leave it for twelve weeks before contacting them. Hopefully I'll hear from them before then...
  12.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    It's usually the case. And safest. It's also a good test to see if you have the patience you're going to need later on if you do find a publisher interested in your novel. Things move slowly at publishing houses.
  13.  
    Birol

    Birol New Member

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    I don't know about in the UK, but in the States, you've already broken publishing etiquette by calling. Agencies get hundreds of submissions a day. Can you imagine if each potential writer called each day? The guidelines, which will tell you what each agency wants to receive, are typically on their website.

    Beyond that, it's very good that you send each agency what they've requested. That is the way to make a good impression.
  14.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    Yeah I've noticed that about the US. I recently bought the Writers' Market book and saw that lots of agencies said not to call. So I definitely won't be doing that if I approach American agencies!

    Some friends in the British publishing industry told me I should call first, but I think I might not do this again, because I hate making the calls anyway, and as you say, most of the agencies have details of what they like to receive written down somewhere.
  15.  
    Circus Cranium

    Circus Cranium New Member

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    Yunalesca, most agents have websites with submission guidelines, detailing what they'll accept upon first contact. Some want just a query, some query and synopsis, some a packet including first three chapters. So although I disagree that calling is 'breaking etiquette rules', you can usually find the information you're looking for without having to do that.

    Here's a good place to start.

    Association of Artists' Representatives
  16.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    As everyone says, check what an individual agent wants on their website or a book like the Authors' Handbook. Be polite and professional, and don't expect them to read your material in two or three days!
  17.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    There you have it, straight from the racing thoroughbred's mouth!
  18.  
    SJAB

    SJAB The storyteller

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    Very true! I have recently had replies from query letters sent out late last year, both asking for sample chapters.
  19.  
    Yunalesca

    Yunalesca High Summoner

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    Thanks for all the advice!
  20.  
    Urien

    Urien New Member

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    When approaching an agent it is always best to hop towards them, whilst singing Amazing Grace and swinging a cat's head on a string.

    Agent' like self-confident, inventive people.

    With this method a book deal is guaranteed.
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