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EricK
07-05-2010, 10:32 PM
This is probably a dumb question but I am new to writing. If I have sent a novel to a publisher who takes unsolicited manuscripts (TOR, ACE, PYR, ETC.) is it okay to shop around for an agent or should I wait until I hear back from the publisher?

stormie
07-05-2010, 10:44 PM
Wait until you hear back from the publisher. If it's a contract, then you can contact an agent of choice, telling them you have a publisher who's interested in the ms. If it's a "no" from the publisher, then query either all publishers or all agents. Not both. Agents will want to know if the ms. has been shopped around.

KTC
07-05-2010, 10:52 PM
I would say query agents TOO. Unless you offered the publisher an exclusive.

Ryan_Sullivan
07-05-2010, 11:43 PM
In all likelihood, you won't hear back from the publisher for a long time--maybe a year. Go ahead and query. (I'd recommend starting with agents in the future, since publishers take so much longer, and if you got a deal, it's nice to have an agent.)

Danthia
07-06-2010, 01:11 AM
Query agents, too. Publishers can take ages, and you'll want an agent in the end anyway. Might as well start now.

However, I'd recommend focusing on agents and not sending to any more publishers. If the book is good enough to publish, an agent will get you a far better deal than you can on your own, and protect your rights, both literally and figuratively. An agent also opens more doors for you.

Ryan_Sullivan
07-06-2010, 02:37 AM
Not to mention that if I were doing this without an agent right now, I'd probably go crazy. I wouldn't recommend going into this business without one unless you really know what you're in for.

stormie
07-06-2010, 07:10 PM
As I said, if an agent chooses to rep you, they will want to know if the ms. has been shopped around. Even if it was to one publisher.

shaldna
07-06-2010, 10:06 PM
query agents too.

EricK
07-22-2010, 09:52 AM
Thanks everyone

Ineti
07-22-2010, 09:56 AM
This is probably a dumb question but I am new to writing. If I have sent a novel to a publisher who takes unsolicited manuscripts (TOR, ACE, PYR, ETC.) is it okay to shop around for an agent or should I wait until I hear back from the publisher?

Sure, query agents too. If nothing else, put together your dream list of agencies so that when the publisher does call you with an offer, you can say "Thanks, I'll have my agency get in touch." Then you call the top agency on your list you want to represent you and say "Hi, I have an offer from such and such and I'm interested in determining if you're the right agency for me." or words to that effect. And if they pass, go to the next agent on your list.

Terie
07-22-2010, 12:55 PM
Sure, query agents too. If nothing else, put together your dream list of agencies so that when the publisher does call you with an offer, you can say "Thanks, I'll have my agency get in touch." Then you call the top agency on your list you want to represent you and say "Hi, I have an offer from such and such and I'm interested in determining if you're the right agency for me." or words to that effect. And if they pass, go to the next agent on your list.

I agree with all of this except the part I bolded. Don't lie to an editor. Don't state or even imply you have an agent when you don't.

First of all, it's just bad karma.

Secondly, the editor will wonder why your agent didn't shop it instead of you. Read that: they'll probably know you're lying.

Thirdly, it might take some time to secure an agent, even with a contract in hand. Read that: if you really had an agent, the agent would've contacted them immediately, not in a couple of weeks. That is, they'll find out you lied.

And fourthly, you might not secure an agent, even with a contract in hand. Read that: when you contact them again yourself in a few weeks and there's no agent, they'll find out you lied.

There's nothing wrong with asking them for a little time to make a decision then trying to find an agent post haste; that kind of thing happens all the time.

But don't lie. When the editor realises you lied, they might find that they're really not so keen to work with you after all.

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2010, 08:29 PM
There's never a need t lie to an editor or an agent. If an editor offers you a contract, you say, "Thanks, I believe I'll try to find an agent to handle the contract."

Editors understand this, and expect it.

When you do get an offer from a large publisher, you are then allowed to skip the query process, pick up the phone, and call an agency.

Cyia
07-22-2010, 09:05 PM
This is probably a dumb question but I am new to writing. If I have sent a novel to a publisher who takes unsolicited manuscripts (TOR, ACE, PYR, ETC.) is it okay to shop around for an agent or should I wait until I hear back from the publisher?

First, consider the consequences.

If you sub to a bunch of publishers and get nowhere, even if you get an agent, you've narrowed the places they can submit to.

Second, consider the submission policies.

Many publishers with open policies specify Exclusive Only submissions, which means if you sub there you CANNOT send it anywhere else. Not an editor, not an agent. You have to withdraw the initial submission.

Also don't count on the "I have an offer, now I can get an agent" advice.

Don't cold call an agency. It doesn't matter if you have an offer. Don't bank on an agent seeing "offer on the table" and jumping at it. They still want to read the MS and see what they're working with, and that takes time. Some agents respond quicker than others. While you might get a response the day you send, it could also be weeks, and that's time the publisher isn't going to wait - not when they've got other options.

Ineti
07-22-2010, 10:35 PM
Don't cold call an agency. It doesn't matter if you have an offer. Don't bank on an agent seeing "offer on the table" and jumping at it. They still want to read the MS and see what they're working with, and that takes time. Some agents respond quicker than others. While you might get a response the day you send, it could also be weeks, and that's time the publisher isn't going to wait - not when they've got other options.

I think we need to be careful when we say 'do this' or 'don't do this', especially when talking to new writers. What works for one writer may not work for another. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling an agency after you have a publisher's interest in your manuscript. The worst that is going to happen is that the agent or agency will say they're not interested. Then you go on to another agency. There's certainly no shortage of them. Failing that, a writer could self-represent, or even hire an intellectual property lawyer to handle the contracts. IP lawyers charge by the hour, and that could cost less than the 15% an agency will claim. Just another option to consider.

If a writer has a plan in mind before picking up the phone, calling an agency cold is perfectly acceptable. You could call them up and lay it out. "I have Big House X/editor X interested in my manuscript and I note that your agency handles books similar to mine, such as X Y and Z. I'd like to talk to you about possible representation for this book and possibly my career." Talk to them about your career goals, what you're looking for in an agency, etc. etc.

Whatever the case, I encourage the OP and other writer to continue asking questions on boards like these and other websites and other writer sites and other agent sites and so on. Ask questions, get a broader picture of the business, and get informed. The better informed you are, the better off you're going to be in the ever-changing writing business world. (Holds true for any business, really.)

Cyia
07-22-2010, 10:41 PM
I think we need to be careful when we say 'do this' or 'don't do this', especially when talking to new writers. What works for one writer may not work for another. There is absolutely nothing wrong with calling an agency after you have a publisher's interest in your manuscript.

Please don't post advice like this. It's not only incorrect, but easily researched.

One of the #1 "don'ts" on every agency's list (going by blogs, etc) is that they DO NOT want to be called by people they don't represent. Not only is it the mark of a newbie who hasn't done basic research, it's annoying, an interruption to their day, and more often than not results in the person's query being rejected for not following guidelines. And yes, even with an offer, you need to follow agency guidelines.

E-MAIL a query, if the agency accepts them. DO NOT CALL.

Terie
07-22-2010, 10:54 PM
Cyia, with all due respect, this is one occasion where it's all right to call an agency to ask if they might be interested.

Ineti
07-22-2010, 10:58 PM
One of the #1 "don'ts" on every agency's list (going by blogs, etc) is that they DO NOT want to be called by people they don't represent. Not only is it the mark of a newbie who hasn't done basic research, it's annoying, an interruption to their day, and more often than not results in the person's query being rejected for not following guidelines. And yes, even with an offer, you need to follow agency guidelines.

E-MAIL a query, if the agency accepts them. DO NOT CALL.

Please don't post advice like this. It's not only incorrect, but easily researched.

Some quick research that took me all of five minutes on Donald Maass Literary Agency and Writers House's websites. Neither agency's submission guidelines prohibit phone calls. In fact, both list their office numbers right on their websites. The worst that can happen is the agency's receptionist saying something like "I can't connect you with an agent for X reason and here's why and here's what to do."

Some agencies don't want phone calls. I note that Nelson Literary Agency specifically asks for no phone queries. Please don't assume that because some agencies won't accept phone calls, ALL agencies won't accept phone calls. There are no absolutes in anything, much less the publishing business. This is why, if nothing else, writers should do their own research and not rely on the say-so of other writers.

Ryan_Sullivan
07-23-2010, 12:21 AM
Please don't post advice like this. It's not only incorrect, but easily researched.

Some quick research that took me all of five minutes on Donald Maass Literary Agency and Writers House's websites. Neither agency's submission guidelines prohibit phone calls. In fact, both list their office numbers right on their websites. The worst that can happen is the agency's receptionist saying something like "I can't connect you with an agent for X reason and here's why and here's what to do."

Some agencies don't want phone calls. I note that Nelson Literary Agency specifically asks for no phone queries. Please don't assume that because some agencies won't accept phone calls, ALL agencies won't accept phone calls. There are no absolutes in anything, much less the publishing business. This is why, if nothing else, writers should do their own research and not rely on the say-so of other writers.

Neither prohibits it because it's common sense--you follow the submission guidelines, which tell you to E-mail or snail mail submissions, never call. If they don't say you can do something, you can't. Writers House is my agency--do not ever call them unless they have expressed extreme interest--and even then it's iffy. Calls are okay in non-US places, but I guarantee, if you call an agency here, it's the worst move you could possibly make. They don't need to state what they say time and time again.

Stacia Kane
07-23-2010, 09:18 AM
Yeah, the general routine if you get an offer from a publisher is, rather than call the agency--which, while there may be a few agents who don't mind, most of them do, even in this situation--is to email, and make the subject of your email: I HAVE AN OFFER FROM PUBLISHER X, SEEKING REPRESENTATION or something similar.

Then in the email itself you state what the offer is (if you've been given terms, you may not have), who the offering editor is (and be assured, the agent absolutely will call to confirm; that's another reason why saying, "I'll have my agency get in touch," is a bad idea), and your query blurb and first few pages. Ask them to give you a call or let you know whether or not they're interested. They probably will call. (Also, don't attach your manuscript; a lot of agents will delete unread any email with an unsolicited attachment, and will decide your subject line is a clever lie from a hacker or whatever.)

It's always better to let them call you; an agent expecting an important call from an editor or client, or about to head out the door for a lunch meeting or whatever, isn't going to be pleased about having that interrupted. Like calling anyone else, you never know if it's a good time, and agents are very busy people. :)


ETA: It occurred to me not long after I posted this that the "Don't call no matter what" policy is fairly new. When I first started looking at agent websites, before I was even writing seriously (like 2003), the "Call if you have an offer" line wasn't necessarily standard, but it was a lot more common. I think that's probably in large part because not everyone had email then, and few agents took email queries, so if you had an offer you would have had to snail-mail the details and hope they opened the envelope quickly, you know? So since there are other ways to get in touch with agents, they started asking that you not call.

So I'm just making a guess here, but Ineti, is it possible that the last time you were agent-hunting, or in this situation, was several years ago? Maybe before this policy was implemented? It's really only in the last few years that I've seen it. Just a thought.

Jamesaritchie
07-23-2010, 05:56 PM
DO NOT Call, is for writers who are querying, and they mean it. But when you already have an offer from a major publisher, it's different. I've yet to find an agent who minds getting such a call. You're offering the agent money. She doesn;t have to submit anything, anywhere. She has to spend zero time thinking about which agent would prefer the manuscript. She doesn't have to weigh market potentaoil, or anything else. She simply has to handle the contract.

It's nonsense to say calling is the worst move you can make. If you have an offer from a major pubisher, not calling is the worst move you can make. Any agent who gets mad at a call offering them money for nothing but handling a contract is not an agent you want.

Seriously, has anyone here ever picked up the phone and called an agent out of the blue? No agent wants query calls, and for good reason, but agents are not ogres, they don't even scream at every person who calls. Most of them are really nice people, and have a good deal of common sense. It all depends on why you're calling, and on how professional you sound when you do call.

Though sometimes giving good phone can work, even if you don't have an offer.

E-mail if you like, but e-mails can take a long time. They can be overlooked, they can be accidentally deleted, they can be read by some fourth level assistant who's having a bad day, etc.

waylander
07-23-2010, 06:09 PM
The gospel according to Miss Snark was to e-mail rather than call in this situation
http://misssnark.blogspot.com/search/label/Agent%20Protocol

Ineti
07-23-2010, 08:02 PM
So I'm just making a guess here, but Ineti, is it possible that the last time you were agent-hunting, or in this situation, was several years ago? Maybe before this policy was implemented? It's really only in the last few years that I've seen it. Just a thought.

Nope. I'm not actively seeking representation. I'm writing and submitting to publishers and editors and continuing to research the value or lack thereof of making us of an agent for my own career.

Could you go into more detail on this no-call 'policy' you're talking about? Do you have some links to where it's spelled out? Maybe a list of agencies that have implemented or follow this policy?

Because, honestly, the 'don't call us even if you have an offer in hand' policy you're talking about sounds a lot like a writer myth created by any number of writers unwilling to pick up a phone and talk to real people, maybe out of the same fear of rejection that most of us writers have. Maybe it's less painful to get a no over email than over the phone, I don't know. It's also maybe because in my regular day-job, to get anything accomplished, you pick up the phone and get a direct response.

I've seen nothing in publishing and have heard nothing from the editors and agents I've talked to suggesting that anyone's going to blacklist a writer because they had the gall to pick up a phone and ask for representation with an offer in hand.

waylander
07-23-2010, 08:12 PM
Could you go into more detail on this no-call 'policy' you're talking about? Do you have some links to where it's spelled out? Maybe a list of agencies that have implemented or follow this policy?

Because, honestly, the 'don't call us even if you have an offer in hand' policy you're talking about sounds a lot like a writer myth created by any number of writers unwilling to pick up a phone and talk to real people, maybe out of the same fear of rejection that most of us writers have. Maybe it's less painful to get a no over email than over the phone, I don't know. It's also maybe because in my regular day-job, to get anything accomplished, you pick up the phone and get a direct response.

I've seen nothing in publishing and have heard nothing from the editors and agents I've talked to suggesting that anyone's going to blacklist a writer because they had the gall to pick up a phone and ask for representation with an offer in hand.

Mixed opinions on this one from out there in agent land
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/04/dont-call-us-well-call-you.html
http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2006/06/agenting-101-part-one.html

Ineti
07-23-2010, 08:19 PM
Mixed opinions on this one from out there in agent land
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2007/04/dont-call-us-well-call-you.html
http://pubrants.blogspot.com/2006/06/agenting-101-part-one.html

Thank you. I had hoped someone would post that link. In the comments section of the linked thread:



Anonymous said...
Nathan, what if you have agents looking at partials and fulls, and one makes an offer of representation? Can you call the other agents on the phone?

Nathan Bransford (http://www.blogger.com/profile/17938449789819847825) said...
Anon-

That's one of the exceptions. In that case, yes, it's ok to call.

EDIT: Also glad you linked to Nelson's comments too:



Now, I recommend that once you have the deal points in hand, call your absolute favorite agents—the ones you’ve had your eye on. Call and say, I have an unaccepted offer in hand from XYZ publisher and I’m looking for an agent to negotiate this deal and potentially represent my future works.

Let me tell you. Your phone will be ringing—and promptly. Agents love the words “deal on the table from a big time, reputable, can-pay-real-money publisher.”

Stacia Kane
07-23-2010, 11:40 PM
I've seen nothing in publishing and have heard nothing from the editors and agents I've talked to suggesting that anyone's going to blacklist a writer because they had the gall to pick up a phone and ask for representation with an offer in hand.


I never suggested a writer would be "blacklisted" for calling, just that most agents prefer it if you email or ask that you email rather than call. I didn't say that ALL of them tell you to email instead of call, either; lots of agents haven't gone on record as saying either, because lots of agents don't blog or haven't touched on this subject.

I just said the majority of agents I've seen speak on this prefer an email, and that I wondered if--this being fairly new as far as seeing this "email not call" opinion--may be because now everyone can email and it's much simpler and easier. Not to mention that even if you do call, you're still going to have to email them your ms so they can take a look.

Old Hack
07-24-2010, 01:13 AM
I'm with Stacia on this. If you have an offer, it's not only ok to phone, it's welcomed--because you're giving the agent concerned a jump on the competition. If you get a poor reception when you phone you can always apologise, and email instead. Agents are people too.