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MorganMarshall
12-09-2011, 05:18 AM
I'm pretty entirely totally sure that this question has been asked in here before, but since I looked and looked and didn't find a thread about it (and I'm sure that's because everyone but me has already hashed it out entirely and/or just knows somehow with that special writer's sixth sense that God chose to leave out of my particular slurry), I'm asking here. Let me know if I'm being particularly annoying in doing so. Thanks!

ANYway, so I'm curious to know whether it's bad form to query to agents and editors at the same time? I assume it is, but I want to make sure before I cut that particular option from my bag of tricks. Thanks!

Drachen Jager
12-09-2011, 06:16 AM
Agents generally aren't as interested in picking up a book with the number of placement options already reduced.

It is not an absolute, but they prefer virgin manuscripts.

MorganMarshall
12-09-2011, 06:18 AM
Good to know. I assumed as much, but I wanted to be certain. Thank you!

Now I have to decide which to query...

Chekurtab
12-09-2011, 06:52 AM
I'm no expert, but some publishers don't accept queries or unsolicited MS. The others will take a MS for a slush pile where it can sit for years. If you are lucky and you get through, you may still want an agent to represent you. Especially if you are a first timer.

Susan Littlefield
12-09-2011, 09:19 AM
Morgan,


ANYway, so I'm curious to know whether it's bad form to query to agents and editors at the same time? I assume it is, but I want to make sure before I cut that particular option from my bag of tricks. Thanks!

I'm confused. People usually submit to either agents or publishers. Is that what you meant?

The only time I've heard of submitting anything to an editor is when you want your work edited prior to submission.


I'm no expert, but some publishers don't accept queries or unsolicited MS. The others will take a MS for a slush pile where it can sit for years. If you are lucky and you get through, you may still want an agent to represent you. Especially if you are a first timer.

Some publishers do accept unsolicited queries. Their guidelines would address this specific issue.

Also, I have heard it's better to query agents before querying publishers. Agents have an array of skills that writers do not have, such as inside connections with publishers.

Good luck!

Old Hack
12-09-2011, 01:31 PM
Yep. Query agents first. It's best for all sorts of reasons.

MorganMarshall
12-09-2011, 08:27 PM
I'm no expert, but some publishers don't accept queries or unsolicited MS. The others will take a MS for a slush pile where it can sit for years. If you are lucky and you get through, you may still want an agent to represent you. Especially if you are a first timer.

I worked on that assumption for a long time and so all I queried was agents, but then I joined SCBWI and got our yearly publication guide which lists tons of editors from major houses who prefer unsolicited manuscripts. So now I'm trying to decide which to query, the editors or continue with agents?


I'm confused. People usually submit to either agents or publishers. Is that what you meant?

Yes. Editor = publisher. That's who you submit to AT the publishing house: an editor. :D


Also, I have heard it's better to query agents before querying publishers. Agents have an array of skills that writers do not have, such as inside connections with publishers.

Yes, which is why I'm considering querying agents still. But since I have queried so many agents that take my genre that I'm not sure I can FIND any I haven't queried anymore, I'm not sure... I'm thinking editors now...

I have since revised my mss a LOT and am far more confident in it, though, so maybe I can re-query the same agents? I don't know...

flygal716
12-09-2011, 08:53 PM
Morgan,

It's true, children's book publishers are more receptive to unagented manuscripts than adult publishers. That's also been my experience.

When I was a newbie, I approached agents and couldn't get any interest. Then I started going to SCBWI conferences, both regional and national, and met lots of editors as well as other writers who passed along their experiences. SCBWI is a terrific resource, as you will find!

The Highlights for Children week-long writers' conference in Chautauqua is another great place to meet editors in a relaxed, professional setting. That is where I met the editor who passed along one of my manuscripts to another editor in an elevator who then published my first picture book. I think it's certainly a good idea for you to approach children's book editors directly, by mail or in person, to place your book. I say give it a shot.

Another good resource for you to learn about publishing, acquisitions, and all things pertaining to children's books is Harold Underdown. He's a guiding light in the field and the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Publishing Children's Books: http://www.underdown.org/

Good luck!

Filigree
12-09-2011, 08:57 PM
I'm only querying publishers at the moment. I exhausted the top 65 agents in my genre (out of 100 on my list), querying one project that has gone nowhere. I trunked the first mms, switched genres, and I'm focusing on publishers looking for my new genre (most of whom don't require an agent.)

suki
12-09-2011, 09:01 PM
The general rule is not to query both editors and agents at the same time. If you want an agent, start with querying agents. And only move onto editors once you have run through all the agents you would consider working with.

On the other hand, if you don't want an agent, you can focus on submitting to editors - and there are houses that still accept unsolicited manuscripts, and you can also scour the SCBWI conference schedule and seek out conference/workshop opportunities in your area/budget where editors at closed houses are speaking - then you can almost always submit to them, too, after the conference.

The only exception to the above is, if you have attended an SCBWI event (or otherwise made a personal connection with an editor), and have an opportunity to submit to an editor, then I say there is no problem subbing to that editor, while you also sub to agents, so long as it is only a few editor submissions.

What you don't want to do is rack up passes from too many publishing houses so that any possible agent will see the book as over-shopped already and pass.


good luck!

~suki

flygal716
12-09-2011, 09:12 PM
I just want to clarify that when I said "give it a shot," I meant if you were finished querying agents and wanted to switch to querying editors, go for it. I didn't mean to suggest querying both at once.

Susan Littlefield
12-09-2011, 09:18 PM
Yes. Editor = publisher. That's who you submit to AT the publishing house: an editor. :D


Duh :D Thanks for the clarification.

I have never submitted to a publisher/editor, only agents. Publishers should be queried after all agents in your genre have been exhausted.

MorganMarshall
12-09-2011, 10:23 PM
Thank you everyone. I've decided to query editors. That usually takes a lot more time and money, as the majority want full snail-mailed manuscripts, but with some research and a great cover letter, I should be able to make it work! (Plus, I really believe in my manuscript now... so excited!)

Suki, I actually had that experience in September at my first SCBWI conference. The editor loved my idea, but in the end she rejected the manuscript because "your protagonist was not as appealing as we had hoped". Since then I've revamped the manuscript, including a major point of view rewrite from third to first person. My fellow SCBWIers here told me to resubmit to her now, but I wasn't given that option in the rejection, so I'm not sure what to do...

Old Hack
12-09-2011, 11:37 PM
What's the worst that could happen if you resubmit to her?

Filigree
12-10-2011, 12:24 AM
The rational answer is 'She says no, again.'

The fear we all have is that we may be blacklisted as a terminal pest, as well.

Little Ming
12-10-2011, 12:36 AM
What you don't want to do is rack up passes from too many publishing houses so that any possible agent will see the book as over-shopped already and pass.


Just wanted to emphasis this point. Even if you are rejected by every agent in your genre, you can still submit directly to all the publishers who will look at unagented submissions. OTOH, if you submit to too many publishers first, fewer agents will want to take on your MS since they can't resubmit to those publishers.

Old Hack
12-10-2011, 12:37 AM
The only blacklists I've ever seen in publishing are of obsessive, threatening types who might actually kill people. Not writers who resubmit their work once they've revised it.

Tromboli
12-10-2011, 03:09 AM
The only blacklists I've ever seen in publishing are of obsessive, threatening types who might actually kill people. Not writers who resubmit their work once they've revised it.


I did hear of one writer who queried an agent, for the same novel (it was implied it was the same query but I can't say for sure)and after every rejection he just turned around and sent it back in. 42 times.


Apparently this writer also did the same to a few other agents. He wasn't officially black listed... but none of those agents would consider working with him. And I don't blame them.

Not that this is on topic. :D

Old Hack
12-10-2011, 12:42 PM
I can see how that would get him put on a blacklist. Blimey. But he doesn't sound as dangerous or nasty as some of the nutjobs I've seen submit. Imagine receiving a submission which included photos of your children leaving your home on their way to school, and a suggestion that you might want to think twice before rejecting the writer concerned. That's the sort of thing that agents and publishers really don't like and yes, it happens.

BethS
12-10-2011, 07:56 PM
ANYway, so I'm curious to know whether it's bad form to query to agents and editors at the same time? I assume it is, but I want to make sure before I cut that particular option from my bag of tricks. Thanks!

Opinions vary on this*, but here's mine: don't do it.

It's the agent's job to sell your work to publishers, and he or she can't do that if you've already muddied the waters. If you get rejected by those editors, you've eliminated those publishing houses as possible homes for your manuscript. No agent is going to take on a manuscript that's already been shopped all over town.

Edited to add: *Actually, opinions vary on whether to query editors first, or agents first, not both together, which would be a disaster.

BethS
12-10-2011, 08:02 PM
The editor loved my idea, but in the end she rejected the manuscript because "your protagonist was not as appealing as we had hoped". Since then I've revamped the manuscript, including a major point of view rewrite from third to first person. My fellow SCBWIers here told me to resubmit to her now, but I wasn't given that option in the rejection, so I'm not sure what to do...

Query her first, remind her of what she said ("loved the idea"), explain what you've done with the manuscript, and ask permission to resubmit.