View Full Version : Now I'm confused: Editor or agent?

07-20-2008, 08:26 PM
So I was chatting with my editor the other day. (She has a suspense manuscript of mine we've been going over for some time.) I shared with her my sadness over reading about another author, who happens to be my age, who successfully sold her MG series. Why was I sad? Because I've been having such a hard time trying to find an agent for mine! And my editor told me, "Publishers WANT a series."

But I guess agents don't?

I toyed with the idea of just stopping my quest to find an agent and go back to sending stuff off to book publishers instead. However, despite some rejections from agents, I haven't been rejected by EVERY agent I've queried. Actually, some haven't even responded yet.

Then I read in a book yesterday NOT to query agents and edotors at the same time.

Even though I stopped querying my series and instead put the focus on an adult fantasy novel, I still want to get the series out there. Which is why I've been seeking agents who do both adult fiction as well as children's/MG. (I mention I'm writing the series in the query.)

So, what should I do now? Is it that publishers want a series but agents don't? Should I change my query to just pitch the first book then mention I think it could be a series? (Book One can be a standalone, after all.) Or should I just stick to querying the novel then mention that I have a MG manuscript after signing with an agent? Help. :(

07-20-2008, 09:30 PM
Is the editor you refer to a friend who is trying to give you advice or is she an editor for a book publisher who is considering your work for the company?

Know the following:

Every writer has a hard time finding an agent to represent them or a publisher who wants their book.

Every agent and publisher wants books that sell -- individual works or series. If a series with a built in audience from book 1 one, all the better. Publishing is a for profit business.

If you are looking for a major publisher, just about all of them work through agents only. The same is primarily true for all publishers, although some definitely accept unsolicited manusripts. While a writer's work may be accepted by the unsolicited route, it's getting harder and harder to do. If you have any shot at getting an agent I'd suggest you take it (or look for it).

I don't thin it is a good idea to query agents and publishers at the same time. Let's assume you do query publishers and get rejected. Lets now assume you query agents and wind up with one who's very interested in representing you. At some point, prior to signing, it's highly likely that the agent will ask you if you have submitted your work to publishers. By telling her yes (which you must) and stating which publishers have rejected your work, you not only leave a bad taste in the agents mouth, you cut down the number of editors and publishers to whom she might have been thinking of submitting.

By seeking one agent who handles adult fiction and children's MG you dramatically cut down the pool of agents to whom you can query. Seek an agent based on one genre, concentrate on that, and worry about the other work later on. Don't dwell on the series concept until you land an agent. You could make some passing reference to it, but that's as far as I would go. If initially you dwell on the series concept--and let's assume the agent likes the idea--she may ask you for a plethora of details about future works. The job at hand is to get an agent to represent you on a singular work. All else follows from there.

07-20-2008, 09:53 PM
I agree with most of Scope's advice, especially about the unwisdom of querying publishers and agents at the same time.

I do think, though, that if you're querying for a book you envision as part of a series, you should mention in your query that you're working on a sequel. This doesn't force a series down the agent's throat, but it lets the agent know you're not a one-book wonder, and it gives the agent the option of telling publishers that if they like the first book, there are more in the pipeline.

Agents and publishers do love series--but the caveat is that they love successful series. There's no guarantee at the outset that a series will become successful, which is why writers must often prove themselves with Book 1 before subsequent books are bought. (It's also why, if Books 1 and 2 tank, Book 3 may never see the light of day.)

- Victoria

07-21-2008, 03:03 AM
Thank you so much. This is all so helpful.

The editor is one at a publishing company who I have been working with for a couple of years. I submitted my manuscript, she said she liked it and wanted revisions.

I haven't sent Book One to any publisher or editor, only sample chapters to agents. The novel, on the other hand, has been rejected by 3 publishers (two of them major). I didn't plan on trying to find an agent until I started writing the series. Up until then, I've been doing all the submissions myself. However, I would REALLY like to see my books published by a major house (not to offend any small publishers here -- you know I love you, too!!) and focus on JUST writing books and not the "trying to sell" part so much.

Plus there IS that fact that more major houses will only deal with agents. So if I want to get anywhere with the novel writing, I think it would be a good idea to have one.

This has cleared up my confusion. I'll focus on trying to find an agent first then worry about the other stuff later.