View Full Version : Whom to Query When

04-13-2007, 06:51 AM

04-13-2007, 07:16 AM
I personally think that you should complete your agent search first. What if you are not having much luck finding and agent right away but a small press wants your MS very quickly. You might be able to get an agent for a small press, but you'll also always have to wonder if you might have been published with a big house if you had only stayed in the agent search game a little longer.

I don't think anyone will disagree that an agent can open doors for you that you cannot open for yourself, but sometimes getting involved with a small press to early can close those doors right up.

Just my $.02 ;)

04-16-2007, 04:54 AM

David I
04-16-2007, 05:34 AM
I'm not sure there's a right answer to that question, since it involves slightly different strategies.

Maprilynne's strategy (agents first, houses open to unrepresented submissions second) is one approach, and a very sound one.

On the other hand, a sale in hand--or even having an editor reading--can often be a good way to get a top-class agent.

Both approaches have risks, both have potential rewards.

When I got my first offers of representation from agents, a senior editor at Random House was reading a partial. I think that I would have gotten an agent in any case, but being able to mention that an editor at a big house was reading certainly didn't hurt my query letters...

...but saying "My book has already been turned down by an editor at Random House," doesn't have quite the same effect!

("But isn't Random House closed to unsolicited submissions?" Yes. But I met the editor at a conference, she liked my book's premise, she read the opening pages and liked them, and she asked for me to send her the opening chapers. Once she asked, it wasn't unsolicited.)

I wouldn't query the small presses until I was well down my list of agents. But if an interesting opportunity cropped up, I wouldn't ignore it just because I wasn't done with querying agents.

There. Does that suitably confuse things?

04-16-2007, 06:27 AM
I'd keep agents and houses separate. Some agents say that they won't touch a ms. that has been sent to a publisher, presumably because they're afraid that too many wells have been poisoned. Maybe the agents you're dealing with aren't like that, but I still say, Don't approach publishers yourself until you've exhausted your list of agents.

04-16-2007, 06:37 AM
The question is: how do you know when you've exhausted your list of agents? Fifty? A hundred? It's a gut feeling, as far as I'm concerned. I 'felt' I'd exhausted my list of agents for my first manuscript, and subsequenty sold it to a small press. It remains to be seen how much this novel will earn.

In the meantime, I'm at number eighty or so with my second, and I'm still ferreting out some more agents.

But I must admit, I did send it to Harlequin last week. If they show interest, I'm not sure what I'll do next.