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View Full Version : Etiquette for a multi-agent agency with a communal query email address



jjdebenedictis
09-26-2011, 11:17 PM
There are some agencies, like The Nelson Literary Agency or The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, that have a single email address that all queries are sent to, regardless of which agent you want to target at the agency.

I assume I should still address my query letter to the agent I'm targeting. Many agents have said how much they loathe "Dear Agent" salutations, so I've developed a protective knee-jerk aversion to the very thought of doing so.

However, there may be more than one agent at that agency who represents the sort of books I write. And the agency might have no known policy on whether you should consider "no" to be from the agent or from the whole agency--that varies across the industry.

I realize there's a good chance that an intern reads the queries first and then sorts them (thank you, plucky intern!) However, there's also the possibility that the agents themselves go through the queries and self-sort them.

And that's the possibility that worries me. If I query a second agent at the agency, is there a possibility that they may have seen my query letter previously, addressed to someone else, and be ticked off to learn that they're my second choice?

(Which is true, but it doesn't mean they might not turn out to be the perfect agent to handle that book and my career.)

What's the best way to deal with the fact that I just don't know what happens behind the scenes in cases like this?

suki
09-26-2011, 11:29 PM
There are some agencies, like The Nelson Literary Agency or The Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency, that have a single email address that all queries are sent to, regardless of which agent you want to target at the agency.

I assume I should still address my query letter to the agent I'm targeting. Many agents have said how much they loathe "Dear Agent" salutations, so I've developed a protective knee-jerk aversion to the very thought of doing so.

However, there may be more than one agent at that agency who represents the sort of books I write. And the agency might have no known policy on whether you should consider "no" to be from the agent or from the whole agency--that varies across the industry.

I realize there's a good chance that an intern reads the queries first and then sorts them (thank you, plucky intern!) However, there's also the possibility that the agents themselves go through the queries and self-sort them.

And that's the possibility that worries me. If I query a second agent at the agency, is there a possibility that they may have seen my query letter previously, addressed to someone else, and be ticked off to learn that they're my second choice?

(Which is true, but it doesn't mean they might not turn out to be the perfect agent to handle that book and my career.)

What's the best way to deal with the fact that I just don't know what happens behind the scenes in cases like this?

You address your query to the specific agent you are interested in. If more than one, pick the one you most want to query.

If an agency doesn't have a "no from one means no from all" policy you are free to query another agent if the first passes.

However, the reality is, that with communal emails, the chances are that the screener will recognize the query... so you might want to be up front and mention that you previously queried the first one, and received a pass.

And yes, it's a tough decision when you like more than one agent at the same agency, but it happens. So...you have to weigh all the factors and choose which one is your best choice. ETA: And yes, it may make the second agent less interested - both because they were your second choice, and because a colleague already passed, but you really have no choice. So, pick one, send your query, and move on :)

~suki