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happywritermom
06-28-2011, 08:22 PM
I recently ended my contract with my agent for whom I still have a great deal of respect. I just felt strongly that we were no longer a good fit given some changes in his agency's focus.
I am searching for a new agent for the novel I just completed, which has never been submitted, and, eventually, for the first novel. (The first novel did not sell, but received good feedback from editors. It is under revision and was submitted only to the big houses and, I believe, one of the larger indies.)
What is the etiquette in mentioning my former agent in query letters? I want to keep it brief, but at the same time, I want to be clear that the first novel did not necessarily fail and that our split was amicable.
The focus of the query is the new novel, which is mystery/suspense. I only make mention of the first novel and the fact that I am revising it.
Thanks in advance for any advice.

RoccoMom
06-28-2011, 08:50 PM
When I went looking for another agent, all i did in the queries was write, 'I am currently seeking new representation'. I didn't go into detail unless anyone asked. (no one did)

ink wench
06-28-2011, 09:09 PM
When I queried, I just said "I recently parted ways with my agent." I also made it sure it was clear that the book I was querying had never been subbed to editors.

I wouldn't bother mentioning your other book at all. It's not relevant. If one of the agents you're querying is curious who your previous agent was, or what happened to your last book, they'll ask. IME, most agents don't care. I think only two agents ever asked me, and none of those who offered me rep did.

suki
06-28-2011, 09:13 PM
The focus of the query is the new novel, which is mystery/suspense. I only make mention of the first novel and the fact that I am revising it.
Thanks in advance for any advice.


ETA: Cross-posted with Ink Wench - and yes, what she said ;)

I wouldn't make mention of the first novel at all in the query. And then I'm not sure you need to mention the agent, if the agent never subbed the new novel.

If you do wish to mention your former agent - and there are mixed attitude on doing so - then I think all you need to do is write "I have recently amicably split from my agent and am seeking representation for a new novel TITLE. As I ended the relationship before I had finished revisions on TITLE, TITLE has not been shopped to any editors."

I'm not sure I would mention the former agent at all in the query if it is for a new, unsubbed novel (I think you could save that for the telephone call, or if the agent asks about whta else you have). But if you want to mention the former agent, I'd use something like the above.

~suki

ink wench
06-28-2011, 09:21 PM
I'm not sure I would mention the former agent at all in the query if it is for a new, unsubbed novel (I think you could save that for the telephone call, or if the agent asks about whta else you have). But if you want to mention the former agent, I'd use something like the above.
Just adding on to what Suki said, because she's right - there is no reason to mention being formerly agented at all. But, before I began querying this past time, I asked a few agents about their feelings on whether to mention previous representation. All but one of them said to include it because it gave you an advantage.

But you do also risk alarming some agents, so have a good, succinct explanation for why you split ready.

stormie
06-28-2011, 09:22 PM
My two cents (been there, done that): No need to mention it in the query. It doesn't necessarily make agents sit up and take a closer look. It's a strong query and first few pages that do it.

When you do get an agent interested in repping you, you could mention it in your conversation that (a) it was an amicable split and (b) this new novel wasn't shopped at all. Later down the road you could mention the other novel and to whom it was submitted and see if they want to take on that novel too.

ETA: Just read what ink wench said. So--do what you feel is best for you. And if you do mention it in the query, be ready to briefly explain why you split.

(geez--all this cross-posting! :) )

happywritermom
06-28-2011, 09:25 PM
Great advice! Thank you all.

suki
06-28-2011, 10:39 PM
Just adding on to what Suki said, because she's right - there is no reason to mention being formerly agented at all. But, before I began querying this past time, I asked a few agents about their feelings on whether to mention previous representation. All but one of them said to include it because it gave you an advantage.

But you do also risk alarming some agents, so have a good, succinct explanation for why you split ready.


My two cents (been there, done that): No need to mention it in the query. It doesn't necessarily make agents sit up and take a closer look. It's a strong query and first few pages that do it.

When you do get an agent interested in repping you, you could mention it in your conversation that (a) it was an amicable split and (b) this new novel wasn't shopped at all. Later down the road you could mention the other novel and to whom it was submitted and see if they want to take on that novel too.

ETA: Just read what ink wench said. So--do what you feel is best for you. And if you do mention it in the query, be ready to briefly explain why you split.

(geez--all this cross-posting! :) )

Yup - this is why I said attitudes on mentioning it vary - I've seen both sides - heck, I think I've advised both sides at one time or another. And I'm not sure there is any definitive evidence either way. For some it will be a plus, others a minus, and in most cases there's no way to know which is which.

Overall, I think if the query is strong enough to get attention, it likely won't matter at all, since you are not querying a book the former agent shopped.

So I agree, go with your gut instinct. :) And good luck!

~suki

happywritermom
06-29-2011, 12:24 AM
It's good to hear that it worked out for you, Suki (and congrats on your upcoming novel!). I feel good about this decision and I'm actually excited to start the agent hunt again. My time with my previous agent was not wasted. I learned a lot.