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View Full Version : How long did it take you to get an agent?



CAgirlforever
03-13-2011, 10:24 PM
Here's a question for all of you lucky writers out there who have signed with a literary agent. How long did you query before an agent offered you a contract?

I have been sending out query letters off and on for...a long time for my novel Secrets, the first book in a women's fiction series (and before anyone warns me about how hard it is to sell a series, the first book can definitely stand on its own). I am about to send out another round of queries and I guess I'm just looking for some encouragement. All comments are welcome, and thanks in advance for responding!:)

Shannon

http://willowwriter.blogspot.com

gothicangel
03-13-2011, 10:59 PM
Ten years in counting [okay, I took four years out with at uni . . .] :tongue

Melusine33
03-14-2011, 01:06 AM
With my first novel it took me about six months and three rounds of submissions. That agent was able to sell the novel but ultimately it turned out we weren't a good fit. I got my second agent much faster (less than a month), but I think that was a combination of already being published and having a book with a really good hook for the current market (couldn't have predicted that--just luck).

I know authors who've queried a book for as long as a couple of years and ended up signing an agent and selling that book. So just because it takes a while doesn't mean it won't happen!

IDGS
03-14-2011, 01:20 AM
One year and over 500 queries for five seperate novels.

My agent is currently repping me for a non-fiction project, but it stands to reason that she may consider my fiction work as well in the near future (I hope!)

blacbird
03-14-2011, 01:41 AM
Forever.

job
03-14-2011, 03:14 AM
Don't get discouraged. Keep writing. If your work is commercial, there is an agent out there waiting for you. Often it is the second or third submitted manuscript that gets picked up.

Have you put your query up for comment?

JoNightshade
03-14-2011, 04:38 AM
CAgirl, I took a quick look at your blog and see you've got Secrets for sale on Amazon.com. How do you expect an agent to sell your book to a publisher when you've already put it out there?

IDGS
03-14-2011, 07:26 AM
CAgirl, I took a quick look at your blog and see you've got Secrets for sale on Amazon.com. How do you expect an agent to sell your book to a publisher when you've already put it out there?

Euch. I didn't see this - yeah, I'd take that down if you intend to reel in an agent with it.

CAgirlforever
03-14-2011, 05:00 PM
JoNightshade and IDGS,

After trying and trying to get an agent, I was going crazy and decided that I needed to do something different, which is why I chose to put the first two novels in my women's fiction series up on Amazon and B&N as eBooks. I figured that if I ever got a request for a full from an agent, I would remove the eBooks from the websites, but until then, I might as well make them available any way I can. From what I gather on the Amazon and B&N forums, there are a lot of aspiring writers that are doing this, either as a way to gain a fan base, make ends meet financially, test the waters, etc. while still working to get published in the traditional sense. Do you really think this would jeopardize my chance at getting an agent? I was hoping against hope that maybe an agent would even come across my work and like what she saw (I realize that this isn't logical at all, but a girl can dream, right?)

ChaosTitan
03-14-2011, 05:26 PM
JoNightshade and IDGS,

After trying and trying to get an agent, I was going crazy and decided that I needed to do something different, which is why I chose to put the first two novels in my women's fiction series up on Amazon and B&N as eBooks. I figured that if I ever got a request for a full from an agent, I would remove the eBooks from the websites, but until then, I might as well make them available any way I can. From what I gather on the Amazon and B&N forums, there are a lot of aspiring writers that are doing this, either as a way to gain a fan base, make ends meet financially, test the waters, etc. while still working to get published in the traditional sense. Do you really think this would jeopardize my chance at getting an agent? I was hoping against hope that maybe an agent would even come across my work and like what she saw (I realize that this isn't logical at all, but a girl can dream, right?)

If you are offering your book for sale, in any format, then you've used up First Rights. First Rights are what agents sell to publishers. Since you've self-published them to Amazon and BN, all an agent could hope to sell is Reprint Rights, and unless you're selling thousands of copies, that is very, very unlikely to happen.

It sucks to learn after the fact, but any book you've self-published is probably dead in the water when it comes to querying.

CAgirlforever
03-14-2011, 06:09 PM
Even if I pull the eBooks from Amazon and B&N?

Jamesaritchie
03-14-2011, 08:23 PM
Even if I pull the eBooks from Amazon and B&N?

Pulling them down doesn't help. They've still been up for sale, and unless the sales numbers are spectacular, you've shot your chances.

It isn't about first rights, though. Book publishers really don't care about first rights. Agents simply sell publishing rights, which is why publishers do take on self-published books that have sold several thousand copies. But if you put your book up for sale, and no one buys it, that's a strong reason for agents and publishers not to want it, either.

Anyway, sometimes you get lucky, and it took me about a week to get an agent.

IDGS
03-14-2011, 08:52 PM
Yeah - to echo the others, I hear ya - but it probably wasn't the best move.

All things in the writing game take a hell of a lot of time, be it awaiting responses from agents, publishers, publicists, etc. It's easy to get stircrazy, but with the next book I'd try to stick it out!

Best of luck!

CAgirlforever
03-14-2011, 08:57 PM
Thanks for all of your advice and well wishes. I'm new at this publishing business(obviously!) even though I've been writing all my life, so I'm trying to learn everything I can along the way. I have heard of people having success getting an agent and a traditional publisher after self-publishing, but I was thinking that e-publishing was a different story anyway because the books aren't in print, they're only electronic. I appreciate all of the great info!

gothicangel
03-14-2011, 09:05 PM
Thanks for all of your advice and well wishes. I'm new at this publishing business(obviously!) even though I've been writing all my life, so I'm trying to learn everything I can along the way. I have heard of people having success getting an agent and a traditional publisher after self-publishing, but I was thinking that e-publishing was a different story anyway because the books aren't in print, they're only electronic. I appreciate all of the great info!

I think you managed to get muddled up about e-rights.

As for people finding an agent after self-publishing, this is incredibly rare. GP Taylor for example self-published a book only intended for his parish and the whole thing blew up. Christopher Paolini's parents ran an independent publishing company who almost bankrupted themselves. In the end Paolini got lucky, Carl Hiassen's step son came across it, Hiassen then passed it to his editor at Knopf.

James D. Macdonald
03-14-2011, 09:25 PM
About twenty minutes. In a hotel room at a convention.

We'd already had two novels published by then. We were introduced by a mutual friend, we showed up with a list of the projects we had in mind,* and it was a done deal.

-------------
* Most of which still haven't been written -- the career went in other directions.

CAgirlforever
03-14-2011, 10:34 PM
Wow! 20 minutes is extremely fast. Good for you! If there is ever a writers' convention in my area or I am able to travel to one, I would definitely go. They sound very interesting and full of opportunities. Thanks so much for sharing all of your opinions and experiences everyone!:)

http://willowwriter.blogspot.com

Anaquana
03-14-2011, 10:50 PM
From the time I *seriously* began querying to when I finally landed my agent was eleven months.

kaitie
03-14-2011, 11:25 PM
A little over a year of actual querying, but I'd say two years or so if you include the time I spent learning about the industry and researching and editing.

OctoberRain
03-15-2011, 05:48 AM
I queried for just over 3 months and sent out close to 100 queries.

Best of luck, CAgirlforever!

Amarie
03-15-2011, 04:29 PM
A LONG time. Let's just say years.

Anne Lyle
03-15-2011, 04:39 PM
Five months, five submissions - two rejections, two no-replies, and the fifth is now my agent. Mind you, I already had interest from a publisher (whom I had met by chance at a convention) by the time I queried #5, so it probably would have taken me at least twice as long without that.

(The reason I only queried five agents is that a) there aren't many SF&F agents in the UK to begin with, and b) with a publisher already interested, I was wavering between going it alone and continuing to try for an agent.)

willietheshakes
03-15-2011, 04:50 PM
Once I got serious? About a week.

cwfgal
03-15-2011, 06:15 PM
The first time, it took me a couple of months and thirty queries. Sadly, she retired after selling three books for me and the second time I went looking, it took a year or so and I don't remember how many queries. I fired that agent after a couple of years and the third time I went looking took nearly a year and 30-40 queries?? Dont' recall the exact number. For me, being published and having had an agent didn't make it any easier to get a new one.

And FWIW, my novel, Working Stiff, below, was self-published for a few years and I still managed to sell it as the first in a series and part of a three-book deal to Kensington Books. But I pulled it and it was unavailable when I started querying for it. It is VERY rare but it can happen.

Beth

raburrell
03-15-2011, 06:25 PM
First book, I sent 5 or 10 queries before realizing it still needs work.
Second book, the first agent who saw it picked it up, but I spent about 3 months doing revisions she asked for first.

JRVogt
03-15-2011, 11:26 PM
About 8 years from the time I "officially" decided to pursue being an author. This also includes a year with a junior agent who eventually left her agency and we split on amicable terms. It has now been about 6 months since signing on with my new agent, and the novel has been on submission to publishers for about 2 months.

Smaddux
03-15-2011, 11:29 PM
So once you self pub, your done? I have two works on amazon, i am on my third but thinking about query this one. Can I get an agent with the third?

Anne Lyle
03-15-2011, 11:53 PM
So once you self pub, your done? I have two works on amazon, i am on my third but thinking about query this one. Can I get an agent with the third?

With that third one yes, you can try for an agent.

From the contract I signed literally minutes ago:

"The Author warrants to the Publishers that...the Work has not previously been published or distributed in any of the forms or territories covered by this Agreement."

I would not be able to sign this contract if the book had been made available on CreateSpace or a similar service, because the publisher has requested electronic as well as print rights.

In exceptional cases, publishers will pick up an already-published book, but that would require a non-standard contract.

Smaddux
03-16-2011, 12:02 AM
Thanks, that clarifies my problem!