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Shadow_Ferret
11-06-2009, 11:55 PM
I just opened Query Tracker, after a month of despondancy, and did my search and noticed all these red circles with lines through them!

I'd never seen that before, so I hovered my mouse over it and it said, "This agent does NOT accept unsolicited queries."

Holy cow! And it wasn't just one or two. It's quite a few. And they're rather well-known, too.

What's going on?

Its hard enough finding an agent to start with, but when a whole bunch take themselves out of the hunt in the start... makes me want to cry. :)

Karen Junker
11-07-2009, 12:08 AM
Just think of it this way: those agents are too busy with their current clients to do your work any justice.

mscelina
11-07-2009, 12:19 AM
Probably part of it. Also, with the current editorial (or whatever) focus on the next big thing and their apparent unwillingness to take on unknown writers, a lot of submission policies have been tightened.

Would be my guess, anyway.

Phaeal
11-07-2009, 01:59 AM
I seem to be getting a lot of very quick, very form query rejections lately. Could be related to the red circle proliferation. I wouldn't have noticed except that the pace of rejection has really sped up, as if queries are being returned pretty much unread.

Or I could just be paranoid. Or I could just suck mightily. Let's not dismiss those possibilities out of hand.

Meh, I can't control the red circles. Onward, wearing down the rocks to make a Grand Canyon, one drop at a time. Chinese water torture works the same way, come to think. ;)

(Actually, a lot of agents have had the "no unsolicited subs" policy for quite a while. I have pages and pages of them listed in my research notes. Could QT have changed its system of marking them? Wouldn't know -- I'm an AgentQuery girl.)

Phaeal
11-07-2009, 02:03 AM
Just think of it this way: those agents are too busy with their current clients to do your work any justice.

LOL, and thinking this is supposed to make me feel better? I want my mommy...

;)

Blarg
11-07-2009, 03:31 AM
On another forum, people were talking about screenplays and treatments in much the same manner. Apparently the economic crunch is making development money very tight, so very few treatments are being bought, as well as fewer scripts. The commonality here may be that editors and their time are a cost, as is putting out a wide variety of books that may not be big sellers, and in an economic pinch, publishing houses may simply not want to take as many chances on new talent or the cost of developing new authors and their products.

scope
11-07-2009, 04:08 AM
The economic crunch has negatively affected just about every business, including the publishing industry: fewer retail outlets exist than even one year ago, less books are being sold at retail, library budgets have been slashed and libraries are buying fewer new books (the same for schools and schools systems), many publishers have closed their doors or merged, most of those publishers still in business need and buy fewer new mid-market sale books, agencies have closed and/or merged, most agencies have fewer slots open to sign new writers, and spend more of their time concentrating on the writers they rep who have turned a profit in the past, as well as on queries they formerly received that show promise, and it goes on and on. The only exception is a new, potential blockbuster manuscript received by an agent.

ResearchGuy
11-07-2009, 04:19 AM
. . . "This agent does NOT accept unsolicited queries.". . .
WTF? How do they know from whom to solicit a query? Do they find out via ESP? How would this work? "Hi, please query me about a novel!"

--Ken

IceCreamEmpress
11-07-2009, 05:23 AM
WTF? How do they know from whom to solicit a query?

Referrals from current clients.

Shadow_Ferret
11-07-2009, 05:27 AM
Well, I do find it odd. I mean, the agent is supposed to be the gatekeeper for the publishers who do NOT accept unsolicited queries,

But now if agents don't take unsolicited queries, who becomes the gatekeeper for the gatekeeper?

Haggis
11-07-2009, 05:29 AM
Well, I do find it odd. I mean, the agent is supposed to be the gatekeeper for the publishers who do NOT accept unsolicited queries,

But now if agents don't take unsolicited queries, who becomes the gatekeeper for the gatekeeper?

See post # 9.

Shadow_Ferret
11-07-2009, 05:34 AM
See post # 9.

Ah. So I should submit to Jim Butcher if I want his agent? Cool.

I would have assumed he was too busy for that.

kellion92
11-07-2009, 05:37 AM
Maybe that's what literary scouts are for. I've read about them existing but I really don't know what they do -- could they be the new gatekeepers for agents? Or does anyone know what role they play or how they get paid?

Karen Junker
11-07-2009, 06:38 AM
Ah. So I should submit to Jim Butcher if I want his agent? Cool.

I would have assumed he was too busy for that.


Nah...you can just submit to his agent. She's listed as accepting queries.

blacbird
11-07-2009, 07:17 AM
So, given this situation, how exactly does the unpublished writer "break in"?

caw

Miguelito
11-07-2009, 07:22 AM
So, given this situation, how exactly does the unpublished writer "break in"?

caw

Lock picks. Glass cutters. Ninja suit.

Just my unprofessional advice.

eveningstar
11-07-2009, 07:22 AM
I submitted to one agent at an agency with a general query e-mail and my query was picked up by the assistant of a different, red circled agent. Still talking to that particular agent about revisions, too.

So referrals are one way, but there are others.

Karen Junker
11-07-2009, 07:28 AM
So, given this situation, how exactly does the unpublished writer "break in"?

caw

Never underestimate the power of networking in the bar at writers' conferences.

Shadow_Ferret
11-07-2009, 05:36 PM
Nah...you can just submit to his agent. She's listed as accepting queries.

I've already done that. I was rejected, but I was just using him as an example
Never underestimate the power of networking in the bar at writers' conferences.

So if we can't get to these writers' conferences (they all seem to be 1000 miles away), or we are socially inept, then we're screwed? ;)

Ken
11-07-2009, 05:40 PM
... probably true about the economy having some effect on agencies policies with queries. Depends a lot too on how the book industry as a whole is doing. Any recent measures of this?

Toothpaste
11-07-2009, 06:32 PM
Let us not go overboard. It sucks right now for authors yes, both submitting to agents, or for those of us who are agented, submitting to editors.

BUT. While many agents had a red line through their name, not all did.

And while many editors aren't acquiring new books, there still are some who are.

This isn't an all or nothing situation of, "Well what do I do now, now that all agents are only accepting queries on recommendations?" Just last week a friend of mine had a request for a full with an unsolicited query.

Yes, it is harder now, it is harder all round in every profession, but it isn't impossible, and Shadow, it isn't as bleak as you are making it sound like. But here's a suggestion, you're in the UK right? You were complaining about conferences 1000 miles away. There's the book festival at Hay (http://www.hayfestival.com/portal/index.aspx?skinid=1&localesetting=en-GB) ever May (the website even lists other such events). I know my agent is always there. There might not be as many conferences where you are, but there's that festival near you that you might want to check out. If for any other reason that I hear it's awesome (also don't forget about the Edinburgh Book Festival).

Clair Dickson
11-07-2009, 06:43 PM
An agent that does not take unsolicited queries may have other methods of hearing about new talent. I've been solicited twice by such agents based on my short stories out there on the internet. (Nothing came of either, dammit. Well, one got a request to revise and resubmit.)

I'm guessing these agents are pretty busy or otherwise want a break from slush. They're likely not completely closed to new submissions, but are taking them from agent-friends or conferences or roaming the internets.

Wayne K
11-07-2009, 06:47 PM
They roam the internet?

Clair Dickson
11-07-2009, 08:13 PM
They roam the internet?

Some do. Some don't.

Libbie
11-07-2009, 08:16 PM
Network, my friends. Network.

Also, I started querying agents in early September, and yes, I saw a lot who weren't accepting unsolicited queries. But I found about fifty who were, and that's just in my genre. I've already had a full request that turned into a request for a revision and resubmission, from an unsolicited query to an agent at a major agency. Sure, it took me about two weeks of research to put together my list of agents. It took a lot of searching to find a bunch who liked my genre, made good sales, and were taking unsolicited queries. But I found them. If I can, anybody can.

Shadow_Ferret
11-07-2009, 08:17 PM
They roam the internet?

Well, not sure what you mean by "roam" but many are on facebook and twitter and many probably read online fiction magazines. Not necessarily scoping out talent but just because they like to read.

TrixieLox
11-07-2009, 09:54 PM
My agent wasn't accepting unsolicited queries when I queried her... I didn't realise as she'd changed her policy a few weeks before and info I had was a bit out of date. She still took me on cos she loved my work (and my query letter caught her eye just as she was about to delete I imagine).

I'm not sure if it is a good idea to query an agent who's closed to queries but what I'm saying is, sometimes rules might be meant to be broken, I donno....

TrixieLox
11-07-2009, 09:55 PM
Oh, and to add, another agent asked to see my work after reading my 140 description of it to a friend on Twitter ;-) So yeah, network baby!

LOG
11-07-2009, 10:11 PM
Network, my friends. Network.
How exactly does one go about that?
The only place I have for networking with other authors is this site. Although I could appeal to my professors, I know a few that have published books, though their books seem to be in different genres than I write in.

Karen Junker
11-08-2009, 04:10 AM
So if we can't get to these writers' conferences (they all seem to be 1000 miles away), or we are socially inept, then we're screwed? ;)

The writers' retreat I put on is just a small group of friendly people--even if you're socially inept, we put up with you and share what we know about writing and the industry. Sometimes it's possible to find people online who are willing to share the same way, such as on here at AW.

I've met some writers who had terrible social skills but who were NY Times bestsellers--sometimes it helps to just have written a great book with a fresh voice.

benbradley
11-08-2009, 06:25 AM
Lock picks. Glass cutters. Ninja suit.

Just my unprofessional advice.
Then what? Slide my MS into the middle of the slush pile?

I've already done that. I was rejected, but I was just using him as an example

So if we can't get to these writers' conferences (they all seem to be 1000 miles away), or we are socially inept, then we're screwed? ;)
I skipped out on meeting Nathan Bransford a couple years ago (when he was at a conference within 100 miles of me) because not only am I socially inept, I didn't have anything near a novel-length work to even interest an agent in.

I'm hoping to fix working on fixing that second part this month.

The writers' retreat I put on is just a small group of friendly people--even if you're socially inept, we put up with you and share what we know about writing and the industry. Sometimes it's possible to find people online who are willing to share the same way, such as on here at AW.

I've met some writers who had terrible social skills but who were NY Times bestsellers--sometimes it helps to just have written a great book with a fresh voice.
So, as long as I can write the book, there's hope...

scope
11-08-2009, 06:41 AM
If today, more than in recent years, agents aren't open to unsolicited submissions, I fall back on what I said in an earlier post. I can't see how it can be anything but a direct reflection on the horrendous economic times. Lets face it, agents and the agencies they work for stay in business by supplying publishers with new, exciting writers -- in addition to handling the flow from the published authors they now have in print. Were agents not able to supply publishers with fresh blood, if fresh blood was in demand, publishers really wouldn't need agencies. So, beyond the backlog of submissions which always exists at agencies, what beyond today's economic crisis, and its spurious fallout, would suddenly make so many agents hang up an "no unsolicited queries and/or manuscripts sign" sign?

Julie Worth
11-08-2009, 07:03 AM
I believe that querytracker recently added that stop symbol, but agents not accepting queries is not a new thing. If you search for "all fiction," you get 848 results, and if you select the box that eliminates those not accepting queries, you get 659. So 78% of the listed agents are accepting queries. Which is no reason to panic.

C.bronco
11-08-2009, 07:14 AM
The economy stinks on ice.

Wayne K
11-08-2009, 07:41 AM
I'll keep submitting. I was going to give up and become a banker instead but the TV told me I don't understand the economy. I'm better at this anyway.

Shadow_Ferret
11-08-2009, 06:32 PM
I believe that querytracker recently added that stop symbol, but agents not accepting queries is not a new thing. If you search for "all fiction," you get 848 results, and if you select the box that eliminates those not accepting queries, you get 659. So 78% of the listed agents are accepting queries. Which is no reason to panic.

I wasn't panicking, merely noticing something new and wondering if it was normal or a reflection of the bad economy.

Many of those agents now listed as NOT accepting unsolicited queries I had queried previously and... hmm. Wait. Was it my fault? :D

timewaster
11-08-2009, 07:03 PM
Well, I do find it odd. I mean, the agent is supposed to be the gatekeeper for the publishers who do NOT accept unsolicited queries,

But now if agents don't take unsolicited queries, who becomes the gatekeeper for the gatekeeper?

I think that right at the moment fewer books are being published so agents are busy trying to place work by their existing writers.
If they are closed to submissions it probably means they have more than enough to deal with and are prepared to risk the remote possiblity that they are thereby closing the door to next big thing.

blacbird
11-13-2009, 12:10 PM
Never underestimate the power of networking in the bar at writers' conferences.

Been there, done that, numerous times, am terrible at it, found it a truly horrifying experience.

caw

Libbie
11-15-2009, 09:22 PM
How exactly does one go about that?
The only place I have for networking with other authors is this site. Although I could appeal to my professors, I know a few that have published books, though their books seem to be in different genres than I write in.


Sorry I didn't check this thread sooner to see your question.

Make friends with authors. Through them, make more friends with more authors. If you're making friends with good authors (who are also nice people with whom you want friendship), sooner or later you'll be friends with published authors who've got agents.

Through total serendipity, I happen to have a really excellent contact in the publishing world -- a three-time, well-reviewed MG author who's also an editor at an FSG imprint. Her parents were one of my husband's foster families while he was growing up, and he lived with them a long time and became very close to their kids, so she's kinda-sorta my sister-in-law. Sort of. She caught the bouquet at our wedding, and I guess that's all the contact you need. ;) She hooked me up with "permission" to query an agent who doesn't take unsolicited queries, but does like my genre. She knows this agent because she (the agent) works at the same agency at my friend's agent.

As it turned out, I got this full request before I queried the hooked-up networked agent, and the request was exclusive. But if the gal who's currently interested ends up rejecting my manuscript, I can go on to query this other agent.

You never know what kind of opportunities your network may open up for you. But it's up to you to seek out and tap those opportunities. They won't fall into your lap. You've got to assess your "surroundings" and be proactive.

maryland
11-15-2009, 10:00 PM
While there is good luck, there is also bad....the authors I know would rather walk barefooted over broken glass than tell me who thier agents are.They keep all valuable info to themselves.
If I appeared to share an agent with them, all by accident, it would be embarrassing, like crowding their privacy.Thank goodness for this site and the internet in general, plus the directories of agents - I am really grateful.
At any conference, the pushy writers crowd anyone important to their future careers. Very difficult, even if you're charming and efficient, to elbow in at the bar/cafe/corridor.

Irysangel
11-15-2009, 10:37 PM
While there is good luck, there is also bad....the authors I know would rather walk barefooted over broken glass than tell me who thier agents are.They keep all valuable info to themselves.
If I appeared to share an agent with them, all by accident, it would be embarrassing, like crowding their privacy.Thank goodness for this site and the internet in general, plus the directories of agents - I am really grateful.
At any conference, the pushy writers crowd anyone important to their future careers. Very difficult, even if you're charming and efficient, to elbow in at the bar/cafe/corridor.

Maryland, I find the bar scene at most conferences intimidating myself unless I know someone. However, the reason why conferences are so awesome is that lots of agents take pitch sessions and do panels, and they are very easy to approach post-panel and chat with. I am not the most outgoing person and I've managed to talk to a lot of people.

Alpha Echo
11-15-2009, 11:43 PM
Well, not sure what you mean by "roam" but many are on facebook and twitter and many probably read online fiction magazines. Not necessarily scoping out talent but just because they like to read.

Is it a good idea to have a facebook, twitter, etc, just for my writing then?



I skipped out on meeting Nathan Bransford a couple years ago (when he was at a conference within 100 miles of me) because not only am I socially inept, I didn't have anything near a novel-length work to even interest an agent in.


Wow. I don't know I could have met with him either. Good luck!




Make friends with authors. Through them, make more friends with more authors. If you're making friends with good authors (who are also nice people with whom you want friendship), sooner or later you'll be friends with published authors who've got agents.



I appreciate what you're saying. I'm only friends with one soon-to-be on the shelves author. I'm so intimidated by her work - it's excellent. And I would feel like I was taking advantage of our friendship by ever trying to get to an agent or publisher through her.

As far as conventions and such, I can't afford them right now. I'm paying down debt in preparation of starting a new family...so that's out. Priorities and such, and my family means more to me than getting published.

Though I'm not giving up.

I need to query again.