PDA

View Full Version : Does the Agent Mean it or....



Raven1723
10-10-2011, 06:47 PM
I'm sure I'm not the first to encounter this but I haven't been able to find anyone else talking about this.

I'm querying my first MS. I was fortunate enough that a big named author offered to recommend me to a rising agent (not the author's) at a big agency.

I was hesitant because Agent has said she doesn't like dark and edgy and this is...dark and edgy.

But I couldn't turn down the recommendation. I mean...who would?

Agent read some chapters and asked for the full. Agent read another couple of chapters and stopped. Agent wrote me and said that she felt that the plot dropped off just where it started getting angsty and introspective (i.e., about 20 pages after the even that kicks everything into high gear, where the MC is trying to deal with the after-effects of said event).

Agent said that she would re-read if I ever decided to revise.

I've asked my group of crits and readers (all of who would be willing to call me on manuscript's failings) what they thought of her comments. EVERY single one of them responded with some variation of "WTF?"

Not one of them agreed with her.

Possible that they're wrong. I mean SHE is the agent after all. I've thanked her for her time and filed her email away. But it's eating at me particularly because it means I can't query anyone else at the agency.

Do I try to revise even though I'm seriously unclear about what it is she'd want me to do just not not lose the opportunity? Or just chalk it up to an occasion where I should have followed my gut and queried a different agent at the agency anyhow?

Some have suggested that she doesn't want me to revise and resubmit. That she's just saying that to keep the recommending author happy.

Totally confused.......

Thanks for any insight any of you might have....

Anne Lyle
10-10-2011, 07:19 PM
This is just one agent offering her opinion - another agent might love it for all the reasons this one didn't. And the fact that you got lucky with a recommendation from an author means nothing if the agent herself isn't keen on your work.

Move on, submit to more agents. If you get a lot more of the same feedback, then you might consider whether the agents are right and your writing group are wrong.

Ari Meermans
10-10-2011, 07:27 PM
But it's eating at me particularly because it means I can't query anyone else at the agency.


I'm not sure I understand this; could you explain why, please? I understand it's fine to query more than one agent per agency—just not at the same time.

Theo81
10-10-2011, 07:39 PM
Do I try to revise even though I'm seriously unclear about what it is she'd want me to do just not not lose the opportunity?

Only if you want to.



Or just chalk it up to an occasion where I should have followed my gut and queried a different agent at the agency anyhow?

You still can.


Some have suggested that she doesn't want me to revise and resubmit. That she's just saying that to keep the recommending author happy.

No, she wouldn't have "just said it". It would be a waste of her time, and yours.

End of the day, you queried somebody with something they didn't like. You thought up front they wouldn't like it, they didn't, but they did like it enough to give you some feedback and if, in the future, you write something which *would* suit them, you can mention this to them.

I recently read a psychological thriller. I *hated* it. It was like the 9pm version of a daytime soap opera, gradually getting more and more ridiculous. Was it a bad book? No, it just wasn't what I look for in a psychological thriller. Would I have R&Red it if I was an agent who received it? Yes, but that doesn't mean the original was bad, it just wasn't what I want to see when I read that kind of book.

If you think the agent is right, then R&R. I don't think you do though, so find an agent whose kind of thing it is, but remember this one for the future. She obviously liked your writing, just not the content. It's a good thing.

kaitie
10-10-2011, 07:40 PM
I'd send to someone else at the agency anyway. In fact, I got my agent by doing that in spite of a "don't query other people" clause, inspired by a post at BookEnds recommending it.

In regards to the revision, there are two easy options. One is to just decide that you disagree on the revision and not do it (I did this for one request that was similar in the WTF? sort of way). The other is to make a completely new file and do the rewrite there and see what you think after it's done.

It's impossible to tell without seeing your book, but you mention that you have a lot of introspection and what not in that section and that the big event happens twenty pages later. It's possible that she's hit on a flaw that everyone else just read through and didn't see. In other words, it might be that the introspection and what not is lasting too long and lingering and that section becomes twenty pages where the reader is skimming and skipping and waiting for something big to happen. I'm not sure why, but that just seems like a lot to me. Again, I haven't read it, so I can't say for sure if she's on crack or not, though.

You might find once you do the revision that you really like the changes, and you might find you hate them. If it's the latter you can just delete the file, but if it's the former you can send it back and see what she thinks. I know that when I got revision notes back, there were a couple of things that I thought, "Seriously? How on earth do you expect me to fix that? It's fine as is and I have no idea what I'd even do to change it." I contemplated for a couple of days, though, and found ways to improve each element. I couldn't believe how much stronger the book was for it.

You might do the revision and find that it hit a weakness you didn't even know was there.

Raven1723
10-10-2011, 08:19 PM
Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Ari - many agencies say that if you query one agent with a project you're querying the entire agency, so you aren't meant to then query anyone else there with the same project.

Katie - I'm going to look for that article! :-) There is a part of me that has considered it but I really don't want to break the rules out of the gate.

The "big event" happens twenty pages EARLIER. She had issues with the fallout (but her one and only comment was so vague that I don't really understand what her issue was). And yes, I've been sitting on this wondering if she has a point and what I could try to strengthen the MS.....I'm just...stumped.

Yes, she said she liked the concept, writing, and characters. Hence the confusion! :-)

kaitie
10-10-2011, 08:22 PM
Here (http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/2010/11/querying-agents-at-same-agency.html)'s the link. I just had to go check when my query was sent to know the date. ;)

Raven1723
10-10-2011, 08:42 PM
Thanks Katie. Very interesting. I've just also read something about this particular agency where they are ADAMANT not to query multiple agents. So I'm going to have to chalk this up to a learning experience and see what responses I get to the other fulls I have out there.

KalenO
10-11-2011, 05:48 AM
Raven, something you might want to consider is that most agencies that have a policy of 'a rejection from one is a rejection from us all' have that policy because they all draw from the same pool of queries, even if your query is addressed to one agent in specific - just in case another agent might be interested. But if you queried this agent directly based on a referral from one of her authors, as it sounds like, I imagine you by-passed the query 'pool' in general, so your query might be brand-new to any of the other agents there.

I'd say if there's another agent at that agency you'd really love to work with, you don't really have a lot to lose by querying them anyways. If they're interested, they're not going to reject you just because you broke the rule. If they're not interested, they were going to reject you anyways, so you're left at the same place you are now and none the worse for wear.

Undercover
10-11-2011, 05:00 PM
Yeah, I agree, keep querying. Good Luck!

Terie
10-11-2011, 05:11 PM
Thanks Katie. Very interesting. I've just also read something about this particular agency where they are ADAMANT not to query multiple agents. So I'm going to have to chalk this up to a learning experience and see what responses I get to the other fulls I have out there.


Raven, something you might want to consider is that most agencies that have a policy of 'a rejection from one is a rejection from us all' have that policy because they all draw from the same pool of queries, even if your query is addressed to one agent in specific - just in case another agent might be interested. But if you queried this agent directly based on a referral from one of her authors, as it sounds like, I imagine you by-passed the query 'pool' in general, so your query might be brand-new to any of the other agents there.

I'd say if there's another agent at that agency you'd really love to work with, you don't really have a lot to lose by querying them anyways. If they're interested, they're not going to reject you just because you broke the rule. If they're not interested, they were going to reject you anyways, so you're left at the same place you are now and none the worse for wear.

KalenO, I would be very careful about advising people to purposely disregard an agency's guidelines. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't do it at all. It's one thing for me to decide to do ignore guidelines; it's a very different thing to tell someone else they should.

In a case where an agency is 'adamant' about something, they mean it. Agencies of this nature often don't have a pool so much as they know what the other agents are looking for, so if a query doesn't appeal to one but might to another, they'll pass it along. That's why they say 'no from one means no from all'.

Agencies have guidelines in place for reasons. We writers might not like them, but ignoring them is not usually a good way to go. There are many fine agents out there; one needn't hang all one's hopes on a particular agency.

LoLo
10-11-2011, 11:09 PM
I am not sure that I clearly understand the query process. Can a well written query be turned down by an agent? I have been re-working and re-working my query. I just heard from an agent today. Does this mean that my query wasn't good enough or was the agent's response sincere? Thanks


Hi

It sounds like a very moving work, but I feel that I would have a hard time marketing it, given the current state of the publishing industry.

Perhaps another agent could be more encouraging.

All the best!

JanetO
10-12-2011, 03:51 AM
KalenO, I would be very careful about advising people to purposely disregard an agency's guidelines. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't do it at all. It's one thing for me to decide to do ignore guidelines; it's a very different thing to tell someone else they should.


Bah. I wholeheartedly agree with KalenO (no relation :)). Break a rule every now and then. I'm always rather amazed at how many people are so terrified of the consequences of doing something a little different, as if these agents are going to cast a 100-year spell for disobeying some statement on a website. In any case, the writer by-passed the traditional entry into the agent's lair, and so it's fine to query someone else there. I mean, seriously, what's going to happen? At worst, she'll get a rejection, and said agent, after receiving a 100 more queries that day, won't even remember her name. But she also might like the thing, and ask to see it...if ya don't take the risk, etc. etc.

kaitie
10-12-2011, 04:42 AM
KalenO, I would be very careful about advising people to purposely disregard an agency's guidelines. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't do it at all. It's one thing for me to decide to do ignore guidelines; it's a very different thing to tell someone else they should.

In a case where an agency is 'adamant' about something, they mean it. Agencies of this nature often don't have a pool so much as they know what the other agents are looking for, so if a query doesn't appeal to one but might to another, they'll pass it along. That's why they say 'no from one means no from all'.

Agencies have guidelines in place for reasons. We writers might not like them, but ignoring them is not usually a good way to go. There are many fine agents out there; one needn't hang all one's hopes on a particular agency.

I'm not 100% sure I agree. Granted, when I saw that they were adamant I backed off for the same reason you mentioned, but I do think there are times when it's reasonable to go against a guideline like this--and I know of enough people who have had good results (aside from myself) that I think it's occasionally worthwhile.

There are some guidelines that should always be followed--only query one at a time, always send a query first, etc. But I've seen professionals in the field recommend breaking this rule. In a similar fashion, Janet Reid has said that you should always send the opening pages even if the guidelines say "query only." That's something I often recommend people do and something I did myself. The only three exceptions I had to the policy were agents who specifically said "Query will not be read if sample pages are attached." In other words, adamant.

It's a cost/benefit thing. Cost--getting a rejection. Benefit--might get a request from someone you would have disregarded otherwise. I'm not saying everyone should follow the advice, but I do think there are appropriate times when it should be considered and not just automatically written off. In some cases the worst that is likely to happen is you get a rejection.

I'm not saying people should just blatantly disregard the rules. I'm just saying that a lot of times the rules are more flexible than that, and there are times when bending them might be appropriate.

kaitie
10-12-2011, 04:44 AM
I am not sure that I clearly understand the query process. Can a well written query be turned down by an agent? I have been re-working and re-working my query. I just heard from an agent today. Does this mean that my query wasn't good enough or was the agent's response sincere? Thanks


Hi

It sounds like a very moving work, but I feel that I would have a hard time marketing it, given the current state of the publishing industry.

Perhaps another agent could be more encouraging.

All the best!


Slight derail, but just having a great query doesn't mean you'll get requests. It has to be something that sounds interesting to the agent and that they think they can sell. On the other hand, having a really terrible query is a good way to guarantee few if any requests.

In other words, you should have a great query, but that alone doesn't mean that you'll get requests. You'll be able to tell pretty quickly how good the query is, though. If you're getting over a 10% request rate you're doing fairly well. Really good queries are even higher.

jjdebenedictis
10-12-2011, 08:37 AM
I am not sure that I clearly understand the query process. Can a well written query be turned down by an agent?Yes.

Agents specialize, so you can have a fantastic query, but if the book is in a genre that agent doesn't represent, then they will reject it. Also, agents have specific tastes, so if your book doesn't suit their tastes, they will reject your query, even if it's for a great book.


I just heard from an agent today. Does this mean that my query wasn't good enough or was the agent's response sincere?

It sounds like a very moving work, but I feel that I would have a hard time marketing it, given the current state of the publishing industry.

Perhaps another agent could be more encouraging.

All the best!
This could be a form letter, which means there's nothing about it (good or bad) that you should take personally. All it means is, "No, thank you."

It's very rare for an agent to give any feedback.

LoLo
10-12-2011, 09:06 AM
Yes.

Agents specialize, so you can have a fantastic query, but if the book is in a genre that agent doesn't represent, then they will reject it. Also, agents have specific tastes, so if your book doesn't suit their tastes, they will reject your query, even if it's for a great book.

This could be a form letter, which means there's nothing about it (good or bad) that you should take personally. All it means is, "No, thank you."

It's very rare for an agent to give any feedback.



Thank you so much for responding. I really appreciate it. I agree, it is rare for an agent to give any feedback.

LoLo
10-12-2011, 09:12 AM
Slight derail, but just having a great query doesn't mean you'll get requests. It has to be something that sounds interesting to the agent and that they think they can sell. On the other hand, having a really terrible query is a good way to guarantee few if any requests.

In other words, you should have a great query, but that alone doesn't mean that you'll get requests. You'll be able to tell pretty quickly how good the query is, though. If you're getting over a 10% request rate you're doing fairly well. Really good queries are even higher.

10% request rate. Well back to the drawing board. At least I received more requests this time because I reworked my query. But, I see that I have more work to do. Thank you so much for responding.